The Making of My Paris Kitchen

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

(Photo by Ed Anderson)

My Paris Kitchen is finally here! It’s taken me a few years to get to this day, and I thought I’d give you a little look behind-the-scenes of how the book was created. There’s a certain amount of conversation about blogs versus cookbooks, and since I have a foot in both, I am keenly aware of the connection between the two, but also what makes them different.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

There’s a lot of talk about whether food blogs are overtaking traditional cookbooks. What’s changing – in my view – is that people are looking for something else in a cookbook – not just collections of recipes, which can be found online, but a storyline that carries the book. I read blogs when I’m sitting in front of my computer, but I love settling into a chair (or cozy bed) with a good cookbook, and reading all the stories that accompany the recipes.

So when people ask me, “What’s your book about?” I answer that it’s a story about how I cook in Paris – where I shop, how I find ingredients, the friends I like to cook with, as well as recipes from Parisian friends, chefs, and pastry chefs, with plenty of photos (and stories) of the outdoor markets, pastry shops, bread bakeries, bistros, and cafés. The book starts with recipes and stories for l’heure de l’apéro (cocktail hour), and goes through soups, salads, and main courses, before heading to dessert, ending with a spectacular bûche de Noël, that concludes the year across France on a sweet note.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

In addition to showing the spectacular city of Paris, I also wanted to highlight its diversity through visits to some of the ethnic neighborhoods, presenting some of the multicultural recipes I picked up there, which Parisians have embraced. Unlike the other regions of France, Paris is a mix of cultures and cuisines – there are very few things that are “Parisian cuisine” since so many residents of the city have come from other parts of France, and the rest of the world. Like me.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

So there are recipes and stories from Provence, the Jura, as well as North Africa and yes, even the United States. You’ll see me eating my first sandwich merguez stuffed with frites (finally!), as well as rifling through boxes at the flea market, scoring kale at the marché bio (organic market), and sitting down to everything from a warm chocolate cake with salted butter caramel sauce from a favorite bistro (with the chef’s recipe and secret technique for dialing up the chocolate flavor), to an exhaustive search for the best way to make madeleines with that picture-perfect hump – with two recipes, and notes – that explain the madness in my method.

Writing a book is an all-consuming process, at least for me. My Paris Kitchen started out as a non-cookbook proposal that took me nearly eight months to write. People who want to write a book are always astonished when I tell them that it takes that long (at least it takes me that long), to write a proposal. But it’s the most important part of the cookbook process. It’s where you clarify and distill your ideas, and create your vision of the book. And in turn, it allows the publisher to grasp your idea of your book, who you are, and the intended audience.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

(Publishers aren’t always right. My ice cream book was turned down by a major publisher because, they told me, I didn’t have my own show on Food Network. I had taught a class and was surprised when so many people raised their hands when I asked who makes their own ice cream. I did some research as well for the proposal, noticing that an ice cream maker was the #1 best-selling kitchen appliance on Amazon, so another publisher – the one who is my current publisher – snapped it up. And it’s probably my best-selling book. So it pays to persevere if you love your subject, and are sure you have a good idea on your hands.)

After I sent the publisher at Ten Speed Press the proposal I had slaved over, he sent me a message: “You should do a book of recipes about how you cook. What is your Paris cooking?”

Grrr, eight months down the drain. But as a writer, sometimes you write and write and write for hours, thinking you came up with something brilliant. Then you go back and reread it the next day, and delete the whole thing. And start all over again.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

So I rewrote the proposal, using a title that Aaron Wehner, the publisher, came up with – My Paris Kitchen – as my guide, and that was that. I’d written several other books in my tiny Paris kitchen, in my charming but – um, very tiny rooftop apartment. Around the same time I signed the book contract, I was signing a contract to buy my first apartment in Paris, and getting ready to embark on what I thought would be a relatively straightforward renovation. The contractor told me it would take two months and because I used to believe what people told me, I didn’t think anything of it, and went to work on the book.

As they say, expect everything to take twice as long, and cost twice as much. But, of course, I’m the exception to the rule and the renovation went on for about 1 1/2 years. During that time, anything that could go wrong, did. And then some.

Over a year-and-a-half later, after I had to put my entire life on hiatus – including the book (all my things were stored under a giant plastic tarp that was covered with a thick layer of dust, which I was afraid to move, and I had no idea where anything was) – I finally forced my way into my half-finished apartment, got someone to fix what could be fixed (I won’t go into detail, but if it wasn’t for the competent contractor mentioned on page 94, I most likely wouldn’t be alive today), and got back to the book I had started.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

A friend made me promise not to write a book about what happened, so I will save it for when we can all get together and have too-many glasses of rosé on ice together. But after losing everything that I had worked on, I pulled myself – and what I had managed to piece together – and started with a fresh beginning. (Kind of like my proposal.) I began cooking and baking in my new kitchen, loving the space, the light, discovering the markets that were nearby, as well as butcher shops, fromageries, and bakeries.

A journalist who interviewed me recently said, “The book really surprised me.” So I asked her why. “It’s so personal,” she replied, which I thought was curious since writing a book, especially a book where you are cooking and baking, and keeping notes of thoughts, tips, ideas, and stories, is a deeply personal experience. But then again, I wasn’t planning on writing a cut-and-dry cookbook. The book is meant to be a story, with the story running through the recipes, text, photos, and headnotes. Like Paris, and life itself, there’s everything in the book; the good, the unexpected, the quirky, the tasty, and the sublime.

Often people ask me how I work. And an editor that came to Paris once was shocked that I worked in longhand. When I start a book, I work in files, creating one for each chapter and subject. I handwrite all the recipes, and put them in those folders. Each recipe sheet is filled with information, not just with lists of ingredients and techniques, but notes, suggestions, improvements, and things to try on the next round of testing. Most recipes are tested at least three times, often more. (Because I am crazy, the tarte Tropézienne – a cake with four separate components – was tested seventeen times. Do the math – and the dishes – on that one!)

Once I’m satisfied, I type the recipe up on my computer to make documents, which I put into files named after the book chapters. Then the recipes get sent off to someone in the States, who is a good home cook and baker, which is exactly the kind of person I want because she knows what should be pointed out or clarified, and what changes I might consider making. Then I make it again. And sometimes, again.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

(These croissants were enjoyed by the team that eventually came to Paris to do the photos for the book. If you want to make your own, my croissant recipe is here.)

As the deadline neared, with the help of my friend (and former editor) Susan Friedland, who came to Paris, I pulled the massive amount of notes, recipes, stories, and tips together, and made it a complete book in one giant document on my computer. Since this book has a lot of stories, and many of the stories refer to others in the book, I had to be extra-careful to make sure that if I referred to something previously, that the story actually showed up before the second mention. With 130,000 words to sort through, for a few months, I became a different person and I think my friends were conspiring to do some sort of intervention.

Word count is important and that’s specified in most writers’ contracts. My book was – gulp – thirty percent over what the publisher wanted. (If you’re not familiar with publishing, making a bigger book doesn’t just affect the physical size of the book, and the printing costs, and paper costs, but also affects packaging and shipping, things that we don’t always think about when buying a book.)

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

Fortunately, I have the most amazing publisher and editor in the world and they said “Fine, David. We’ll make it a bigger book.”

You can only imagine what it’s like to spend years writing, crafting each word and sentence as if each is the most important word and sentence you will ever write. Then to be told that you need to delete one-third of them. And since all the stories in my book are intertwined with each other and the recipes, that kind of edit would have made me put my head in the oven. Which I almost did for another reason, that’s recounted in the book.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

Top-notch cookbook editors are an astute bunch, and know about writing recipes – and cooking – and mine, Julie Bennett, was no exception. The first edit is called a “developmental edit” where the bigger picture of the book is considered. Are some chapters too heavy and others too light? Do the chapter openings need to be expanded, or reduced? Do you need to add discussions or explanations about ingredients and equipment? Are there too many recipes and will some need to be cut? Will anyone make the frog leg-turnip omelet recipe with snail-raisin-white chocolate butter? Sometimes you need someone to reel you in, and that’s the job of the editor.

After that first edit by your editor, your book gets copy edited by someone who asks (queries) things like “When you say ‘chill,’ what do you mean?” Or “Doesn’t Dijon mustard have to have white wine in it?”, which means you have to go research all those things. (The chill one, however, I could answer without looking it up.)

They also make sure the ingredients are all listed, and in the right order, that is, listed in the order in which they’re used. And they also make sure that the recipe says when to add each one, which is a tricky task and although every cookbook author lives in fear of getting their copy edits back, it’s one of the most critical steps in writing a cookbook.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

In some ways, the editing process is the least fun part of the process, because that’s when each word, comma, thought, recipe, hyphen, idea (which, of course, you think are all incredibly brilliant), conversion, and technique is challenged. Much of it makes you want to drive your head through the computer screen, but all writers need editors because, like parents – whose job it is to take care of the kids, editors mind authors. and you can thank Julie for sparing you a line about a certain physical reaction I’d had after enjoying a particularly excellent French pastry. (Her words about it were “Too much” – which she didn’t even bother to phrase as a question.)

So you make changes and answer queries on the manuscript, which are sent back and incorporated by your editor. Then the book is sent back to you, again, for another round. Those corrections should be made on a separate document and I had over a dozen pages, and here’s a snippit of just half of one page of mine that I sent back to them, to incorporate:

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

Aïe!..as they say in French. And that’s just for six pages of a three hundred and forty-four page book.

After going through a few rounds of the back-and-forth (and realizing that putting your fist through the wall, or sticking your head in the oven, probably aren’t the answers to your problems), your book is finally sent to a proofreader, then back to you for one last look. At this point, the type has been set and any changes need to be minor critical. In spite of it all, there are invariably a few goofs or typos in a book (supposedly it took Julia Child ten years to iron out all the mishaps in her seminal book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.)

Writers spend days and days and days looking at the same words on the screen over and over and over again, so it’s entirely possible that when you’re scrolling through 130,000 words for fourteen hours a day for weeks on end, you might misplace an apostrophe or a comma, or get a teaspoon mixed up with a tablespoon in an ingredients list.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

(It makes you crazy to find errors – but on the other hand, I just read a story in the NYT about elderly women in Northern Africa who carry giant, oversized loads on their backs, each roughly the size of a Mini Cooper, to the borders of their country three times a day for almost no pay, puts a lot of other stuff that drives me bonkers into perspective.)

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

When I started the book, I told my publisher that My Paris Kitchen should look and feel “real,” like Paris. The book would have to capture the stately beige buildings framed by gray-violet skies with often break open in a brilliant shade of blue, punctuated by colorful fruit tarts in bakery showcases, crates of the cherry tomatoes that no party in Paris would dare to be without, butchers trimming meaty steaks, and colorful clementines tumbling forth at the markets.

I wanted to show the splendor of the Seine and the grand boulevards, as well as the multicultural neighborhoods with their vibrant grocers, whose aisles I love strolling down, sniffing out spices, and where I get my nuts and dried fruits. And, like the streets of Paris, it’s not possible to replicate that anywhere else and we needed to shoot the food in my Paris kitchen, since that is what the book is about.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

So photographer Ed Anderson flew to Paris with his camera and gear, and we met up for lunch, tentatively checking each other out. I assumed that Ed would be experiencing jet lag, since he had just arrived that morning. But he had his camera in hand, ready and eager to go. I wasn’t sure what to make of this shy, understated fellow who was going to be shooting my book, who I’d never met. But I was a big fan of the pictures he took for other books with my publisher, Bitters and My Sweet Mexico, and had a feeling he was the right guy to capture the moods of Paris, and the textures of la cuisine française.

After we finished circling each other that afternoon, we quickly hit our groove together by the middle of the first day of photographing in my kitchen, and we spent a little over a week shooting everything I could cook and bake, along with Valerie Aikman-Smith, a food stylist from Los Angeles, who not only had awesome celebrity gossip, but was an ace cook and co-worker. (It was kind of funny because before she arrived, we spoke on the phone and she told me that she was planning on bringing a bunch of equipment, like knives and tools, because food stylists have to be ready for anything. When I told her that I had about six of everything that she was planning to tote along, I heard an audible sigh of relief on the other end of the line.)

A food stylist doesn’t just put food in front of a camera, he or she also shops and cooks the dishes. At the start, Valerie handed me a list of recipes she wanted me to make (mostly the desserts), which I was happy to do because since the recipes are mine, I would be the best person to make them for the pictures.

(Sometimes food stylists take liberties with recipes and as an author, when your recipe calls for “chopped almonds”, and the picture that ends up in the book shows whole almonds because someone thought they looked nicer, you take out your crystal ball and see the messages coming into your Inbox, asking if indeed, the almost should be chopped, or added whole.)

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

Since I’m often working by my lonesome self in the kitchen nowadays, unlike when I worked in restaurants, it was a pleasure to work side-by-side with her in my kitchen. We coordinated and divided up the tasks according to who excelled at what, Valerie using her food-stylist skills to get nice grill marks on les croques monsieurs, making sure the caramel sauce on the caramel ribs looked as shiny in the photo that winds up in the book as it did when it came out of my oven, and all that ridiculously good crackly skin on the counterfeit duck confit (which doesn’t require three to five quarts of duck fat, or four days of work), to look as succulent as possible.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

(Photo from My Paris Kitchen, by Ed Anderson)

Ed is great at capturing all those little things about food that make it appetizing, such as drips in bowls, and sauce scrapes in pans. Whenever I tried to clean something up for the camera, and put it before him, I could sense that he preferred that I hadn’t made that final pass over the food to make sure it looked okay. Then, one day, he said to me, “The messier it gets, the better it’ll be.” Which has become my mantra. So much so, that I wrote it down and keep his words around as a constant reminder in my kitchen.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

After realizing that even my large refrigerator – at least by Paris standards – wasn’t able to hold all the food that we were amassing for the shoot (in spite of hitting the markets first thing every morning), Romain came to the rescue and brought over his fridge, too. We stockpiled a lot of food and though it’s been almost a year, I’m set for the next decade on Dijon mustard, green lentils, fleur de sel, and pomegranate molasses.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

(Photo from My Paris Kitchen, by Ed Anderson)

Although you’d never know it from our banter (and post-production rosé consumption), we were a team of serious food professionals, and a schedule was drawn up, which was necessary because some of my friends featured in the book came by to cook their dishes that appear in the book with me. One was my friend Beena, who makes a tasty naan fromage (cheese-filled Indian flatbread), and Paule, a friend who not only shared her family recipe for gnocchis à la Parisienne, but provided some lively banter, which I recount in the book.

(Hint: She didn’t like my flour, cookware, or cutlery. But we’re still friends.)

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

As we cooked our way through the week, Ethel Brennan, who came to Paris from San Francisco, rifled though the markets for plates, boards, and silverware, to add to my own stash of housewares for the photos. I also raided the in-laws’ apartment because their dinnerware is incredible, and most readers of my blog have seen all my plates and forks and it was time to show ya something new. (Even if “new” means a French plate that is two hundred years old.)

A fluent French-speaker, and married to a Frenchman, Ethel helped Valerie navigate the French supermarket check-outs, which – as I recount in the book (page 65) – can be a terrifying experience. Even though she’s worked with some pretty high-maintenance celebrities and celebrity chefs (which I hope doesn’t include me!), Valerie confessed that she couldn’t bring herself face the poker-faced cashiers at the supermarket after her second visit. She’d made the mistake of trying to pay for things without having exact change, and had been reprimanded for doing so. Looking back, I guess I should have warned her.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

In my kitchen, there was another warning, one that I made absolutely clear from the start: Do not touch David’s peanut M&M’s.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

But I did share my bottles of rosé, which we kept opening for photos, and had to finish off during our meals and breaks. (Oddly, no matter how full my refrigerator was, we always seemed to find room in it for another bottle of rosé.)

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

So we cooked and cooked, and baked, and frosted for the week. I made a massive cassoulet, stuffed sandwiches with homemade duck terrine with figs (page 113), and kept the wine – and coffee – flowing.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

Equally fun was heading out as a little group in Paris, hitting my favorite markets, stopping for couscous, enjoying plates of charcuterie at wine bars, before collapsing in our respective beds at the end of each day.

Picking out the cover shot of a cookbook is a very important decision. It’s the first impression people have of a book, and it needs to convey as much as it can in one succinct image. I didn’t want my mug on the cover, but thought that somehow, I needed to be on there in a less in-ya-face way. After all, the title has “my kitchen” in it, and I didn’t want a shot that could have been taken anywhere. But because so many books are featured on the web nowadays, in addition to wanting to stand out on crowded bookstore shelves, I thought it’d be nice to have a bold image that was simple, straightforward, and clean that looked good online, too.

After I pulled the mustard chicken off the stove, with the rich sauce simmering and bubbling away around the sautéed pieces of chicken in one of my heavy copper pans, I grabbed one of the kitchen towels that I’d picked up at a flea market, hefted the copper pan up with both hands, pointed it in the direction of Ed, and said “Yo, Ed – how about this?”

My Paris Kitchen

(Photo from My Paris Kitchen, by Ed Anderson)

Ed looked at me, tentatively grabbed his camera, and after taking a few snaps from a few different angles, did a little cropping and mock-up on his laptop. And when I saw what he did, I said – “That’s the cover!”

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

The picture said 1) French cuisine, 2) Home cooking, and 3) Yours truly – all at once. And we all agreed.

(I once had a mock-up of the cover of one of my books sent to me, and as it downloaded on my computer screen, actual tears – not of joy – started downloading from my eyes simultaneously.)

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

After all the photos were shot, everyone split to return home. And a few weeks later, I got the “pages” back from the publisher (sheets of paper resembling the book), I took on the task of indicating on each page of my manuscript where each photo should go, and with what recipe or story.

The designer at Ten Speed Press, Betsy Stromberg, provided an amazing look to the book – clean and classic, not detracting from the text or photos, but complimenting them. It said “Paris”, but wasn’t fussy – and let the pictures, rather than a bunch of design elements, tell the story. Normally I nit-pick everything because I’m that way. But aside for maybe one or two minor suggestions, she’d landed on exactly what I was looking (and hoping) for.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

Reviewing and matching the photos was a pretty daunting task – and even though I knew the recipes and stories by heart, with over thirty sheets of pictures, with sixteen photos on each, the project took over my kitchen counter as I spent a couple of weeks matching the pictures up with the text, scratching notes to my editor and the designer with a red pen as to where they should go. It made me a little loony, but I wanted to ensure that the pictures, the stories, and the recipes all corresponded with each other.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

Enfin, the moment arrived in March, that special moment when a copy of your book lands at your front door, and you slip that very first copy out of the large envelope. And you kind of can’t believe it. Then, a few months later, a few boxes of books arrive to confirm that the finished book actually exists.

My Paris Kitchen Photoshoot

It’s always a thrill when you tear open that carton and face that stack of shiny new books, the result of two years of writing, editing, and cooking. (However the work on the apartment, I’m sure will be finished, someday…)

But there you have it, your book – and mine!


My Paris Kitchen

  • My Paris Kitchen is available at your local bookseller and online from Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound and Amazon.

  • The book is available internationally through Book Depository, which offers free worldwide delivery.

  • 296 comments

    • This was a generous look into the process! Also, geeky question: Curious which font is that on the edit notes excerpt? Thank you!

    • Book arrived yesterday…a “feast” for the eyes. Even the texture of the paper and cover are amazing. Now for some serious reading!

    • I love your new book! I took it to bed with me last night and giggled so much my husband asked me what I was reading! “The introduction to my new David Lebovitz cookbook!” I have all your books and you are so right, the stories and remarks truly make the book so enjoyable! I laughed when you were talking about your sink. I lived in Europe for 7 years and usually had no bathroom or shower, and washed the family’s laundry by hand in a bucket also used for a bath tub later. But, it was the 70’s and we were just kids! It was usually a fun adventure. Maybe tonight I will make it to some yummy recipes! Thank you so much for writing another very personal and beautiful cookbook. Best wishes in all you do!

    • So delighted to see another of your books out. I have all of them! They are wonderful. Can’t wait to get this one too. You’re right about the difference between reading a blog vs. a cookbook – both are good experiences but very different.

      Hope the newest cookbook is a smash hit! With continuing thanks for your delightful blog, also!

    • I’m still waiting for my copy!! I can’t wait!!

      We’ve chosen it for our cookbook club in May… so will be leafing through planning what I’ll cook…

    • David, congratulations! Thank you for a fun and informative talk at the American Library tonight. See you at WH Smith with a copy to sign in June, however, it may be well-splattered by then!

    • I attended your talk and book signing tonight at the American Library in Paris. What a great evening and I can hardly wait to go through your book. When I get home to Salt Lake City, I’m going to encourage our local book store to try to get added to your tour list. There are some great foodies in SLC and I know that an evening there could be almost as fun as tonight. Please think about it…

    • Congratulations! It looks great! So exciting! I am looking forward to buying your book!
      I hope to see you when you are in the USA for your book tour!
      Hope you will post your tour dates on your blog………

    • David, congratulations on the new book! I can’t wait to buy it when I get to the US this summer. I´ll also be in Paris in Sept, can I look you up? Just joking. Your tale of the process of writing and publishing a cookbook was very interesting. A little more than throwing some recipes together, no? So congratulations again, I love your blog and always look forward to it. I have two of your books and will soon have three. Keep up the good work.

    • Love love your story telling! I have been a faithful fan of your blog for years. I will get this book, as I have a more savory than sweet palate. Do do continue what you do, it is funny, inspiring and beautiful.
      Your fan from Singapore.

    • Hi David – I just ordered My Paris Kitchen, and am so excited that it will be coming to me in the mail in a few short days.

      Yours is the only blog I read, and I have started collecting your books. I very much appreciate that you have recipes that I feel courageous enough to try as I’m not a confident cook/baker.

      Thank you for this newest book, and I look very much forward to reading it.

    • “My Paris Kitchen” arrived today. Gorgeous! Can’t wait to curl up with it. Congratulations on another beautiful book!

    • Your book was one of the first downloaded on my new iPad — what an interesting and fun read! I can’t wait to make the salted olive crisps for a party and also getting great ideas for a dinner party. Thank you!!

    • I might read a good novel once or even twice; but a glorious cookbook like My Paris Kitchen will bring joy to the dinner table recipe after recipe, year after year.

      Many congratulations!

    • Lovely! Thank you for the obvious time you took not only in preparing the book and cooking, but in writing about this process. I have hopes of writing and publishing a book of my own one day — not a cookbook — so to learn more about the process is really fascinating. Also, like most things, the reminder that things take time is a good one. What a beautiful accomplishment!

    • I really enjoyed reading about the making of your new book. What a lot of work to collate all the recipes, thoughts and photos into a coherent whole! Well done, David – I’m looking forward to reading it. (BTW, my husband is an author and although he works very hard to stick to his word count, sometimes the publishers change their minds and then – hoo boy! Editing your creation is no fun, is it?)

    • I received my copy of your new book this week. What a feast! The stories and photos are delicious and I can hardly wait to get back into the kitchen to read and cook some of your interesting dishes. Thanks for all your hard work!

    • I pre-ordered long ago. Then the email informing me that my book was en route came. Then I was antsy. Then I made your chocolate chip cookies because I had to make some kind of DL recipe in the interim. And then the book arrived! It is beautifully written and photographed and I am already mapping out my game plan. Well done, David. Wish you were in Chicago. How I’d love to visit with you over a nibble and some rose…

    • What a beautiful story of the writing of a cookbook! I especially love the front cover. Great choice. This seems like the kind of cookbook I love to leaf through and drool over again and again (a bit like Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries – one of my favourites!) and is now firmly on my cookbook wishlist!

    • I am not sure how I even found your blog, but I am so glad I did!!! I devour every word and I am addicted. I cannot wait to buy “My Paris Kitchen”…..
      So enjoyed reading about the process of writing your cook book. This seemed a monumental task but so worth it. Congratulations it looks beautiful!

    • David, this was so lovely to read! Thank you so much for letting us in behind the scenes. Can’t wait to grab my own copy!

    • Amazing David, you are amazing. I mean you just hit me in the gut and showed me what it really takes to write a cookbook. I can’t wait to buy it.

    • Lovely fun blog post. I am ordering this book right after writing this comment – which is not actually about the book itself. Your gorgeous cover shows chicken which has been fried at fairly high heat in a large copper skillet, lined with tin. I have one of these giant pans, but have barely used it in the 30 years it has hung from my pot rack, for fear of ruining the temperature-sensitive tin. Can I just go for it? The pan itself must be worth a fortune just in the copper content, and I’d love to use it.

    • My cookbook arrives today! You are correct I can get recipes from the net but I am looking for a deeper experience just like a perfectly prepared meal. Your new kitchen story made me love and respect you- it was intimate and divine.

    • Congratulations David. What an excellent post about the making of the book! I hope you sell millions!

    • Congratulations, I always feel disappointed when recipes are presented without ant introduction or story. I so look forward to purchasing this book. Thanks for the behind the scenes perspective.

    • Congratulations on a huge achievement! I’m looking forward to reading and cooking from it.

    • David, an apartment never could be finished….so just keep the wine flowing.

    • My copy arrived today. It’s dazzling and I can’t wait to try so many if the recipes.
      Tres bien fait. Congratulations!

    • I just received your book today and have eagerly read through all the sections and thoroughly enjoyed them. Next I will try some recipes but just the reading has made the book worthwhile.
      Thanks!

    • Got my mitts, (bad pun intended), on My Paris Kitchen yesterday, and it is exquisite. I noted the feeling of the pages immediately as I turned them, the photographs marry with your stories & recipes,…really,
      it is just lovely. Congratulations.

    • David,

      I love My Paris Kitchen. I am almost through reading it and can’t wait to start making some of the recipes. You have done a fantastic job. Kudos!

    • Hi – What about the big reveal of the lovely redone kitchen? Did I miss it? We really do want to see.

    • I’m going to buy a proper little oven like I had at RachelK’s so I can make ll this gorgeous looking food of yours David.
      Time to get with the program!!

    • My copy arrived today and it’s fabulous. Starting on cooking from it tomorrow. Greg & I plan on having dinner with you at Camino in May. Really looking forward to it! Best book yet, David, you,re a master.

    • I got the kindle version for my i-pad, impressed! That’s actually the third book of yours I bought, I love them all!

    • Hooray! Congratulations! What a fun peek into the process. I look forward to meeting you in Austin!

    • You are simply the best!! Love the write up and can’t wait to buy your book and maybe be part of your chocolate tours in Paris one of these days in the not so distant future!!

    • Can not wait to get your book. I loved the article on writing the book. Very heart felt and personal. That is what cooking is to me. I will have one copy on the IPad, but as you say one needs a copy to read in bed after a long day. You always seem to come through for us. Have my kids reading your blog now, one living in Montpellier and the other in here in the US. Next time on book tour come to St. Paul/Minneapolis Would love to see you. Warm regards!

    • Dear David,
      I loved your post, thank you.
      You are a great talent, your generosity and simplicity transpire permanently when you write.
      I’m a french living in sweden and you make me miss the french food markets, cafés and bakeries when I read you.
      Your book will be very soon in my hands.
      Warm Regards,
      Laurence.

    • David, your book arrived the same day this post appeared. It is a treasure. I want to lick the pages! Loved the post about putting the book together especially as I have done the same a time or two (though without pictures, and yours are marvelous) and recognize how much effort it is. Thank you for your hard work in getting those beautiful books in their box and to us! Starting to cook from it **right away**!

    • Mine arrived, beautiful and a dream of mine, too… someday.
      So looking forward to meandering through, salivating and trying these in my kitchen.
      Congratulations!

    • You and the other David (Tanis) never let me down. I get your new book and I have meal plans for a month or more. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    • Book arrived and I have to say I think it is the most amazing cookbook. I was lucky to have a free day and I did not put it down. The stories are entertaining and the recipes are amazing. We are planning our first meal this week from the book. You have enriched our trips to Paris with all your insight and helpful information. Love the story about Paule Caillat. We took a class from her on your recommendation at the time you were debating “no good cup of coffee in Paris”. She was an amazing teacher. I have ordered copies of the book for all the francophiles in my life. Hope to get them signed on the book tour!!!

    • Looking forward to getting my copy. So sad the Seattle Book Larder event is full.
      I was even going to bring you a jar of my quince (+citrus/ginger) marmalade (a riff on your recipe) for use in the quince marmalade tart that’s so addictive.

    • Thank you for this long and insightful post and of course CONGRATULATIONS .=)

    • Your new book looks amazing, congratulations! And your post offers great insight into how much obsessive focus and refinement goes into producing something of real quality, beauty and uniqueness. You are a man of many talents Mr. L.

    • David, I just received the book and love it. Thanks for all the work that went into it. I was reading it in bed last night and every now and then laughed out loud. My wife said “I never heard someone laugh while reading a cookbook”. I told her this is more than a cookbook. Thank you, thank you! I hope to meet you at the 92st Y discussion on May 13th.

    • I’ve been reading your blog for over a decade and I think this is one of the best posts you’ve written (and there have been a lot of great posts).. You’ve sold me a book.

    • Congratulations David! Thank you so much for your generous description of what it takes to make a cookbook worth reading. You are an extraordinary talent and you prove once again why so many of us want you to spend time with us in our kitchens. Thank you for the great words, images, story line hints, and tantalizing details that make me want to SPRINT to the nearest bookstore to get your cookbook. Go you!

    • David, I am super excited. My husband preordered your book and I received it this morning for my birthday. I can’t wait to dive into it. I am already in love with the “simple” appearance. The mat look is so fabulous. I wish you would plan a stop in Denver for your book tour. Greetings form snowy Colorado. KIrsten

    • Congrats David! after reading your post on Friday about making of the book I was so excited and amazed that there was no other way, you deserve that I pay full prize for your wonderful accomplishment!!!! so I went to a small little bookshop in Vancouver called 32 books and bought it on Saturday, already started reading Sunday morning with my coffee…….what a lovely morning it was…………this is my first book from your collection, but I do visit & read your site………..Thank you for adding to my life with your words, good luck to you, your cooking & your writing….cheers, Sonja

    • Yesterday was a very good day. I picked up my copy of your book and have set it on my coffee table for evening and weekend reading (I already went through a bit- oh the beautiful imagery! and I love your writing) then I baked a new batch of your bran muffins- they are as yummy as always.

      I am so excited about your cookbook it’s ridiculous. You are one of the few people whose taste I completely trust. I am a little bummed that you are not making any midwestern stop during your US tour – please consider adding Chicago or Minneapolis, and I will be there in a heartbeat!

    • David, you and I are cut from the same cloth. I burst out laughing at your description of your French friends telling you that you must cook with your nose and proceed to tap on the side of their nose. Your necessity to include that you then had that friend wash their hands afterwards, makes me think that I have a like minded friend out there in the world. I can’t wait to get started on your recipes. I’m already a little famous (not really) for making a couple of your dessert recipes from your last book. Thank you David.

    • Just made the bourbon caramelized ribs! What a fantastic recipe!!!!! Thank you for writing such a personal and scrumptious food memoir/cookbook.

    • I send your blog to everyone I know. It is wonderfully written and so informative about food and France. About this book and previous ones, too, who does the indexing? Do you have a say or control or is it all up to the publisher? I have noticed that cookbooks have some of the most awful indexing, Aunt Mary’s brownies, so you look under A rather than brownie. Hope that they met your standards for the indexing! The book is on its way to me now.

      • Generally it’s up to the publisher, although often the fee paid to the indexer comes out of the author’s advance. I think that publishers have indexers they work with regularly so they have good ones on their roster (hopefully!)

    • What a great blog about the book writing process! I’m a legal non-fiction writer and have been through the same types of edits, right down to those grammatical bits, albeit without pictures. And opening that first box of books: WHAT A THRILL! I don’t have kids, but it must be something akin to what people feel when they see their child born.

      I really enjoyed My Sweet Life in Paris and am looking forward to My Paris Kitchen. I love your blog and have used it, as well as Sweet Life, to bookmark restaurants on Yelp and download apps to my smartphone so that I’m all set when I arrive in Paris June 1, 2014. You’ve given so many suggestions that when my wandering takes me to n’importe ou a Paris I’ll have a cafe to relax in or a lovely meal at a restaurant without having to spin the roulette wheel (although if I was to spin the restaurant routlette wheel, Paris is the best place ever to do so).

      I LOVE the idea of stories mixed with the recipes—brilliant. You can get a perfectly fine recipe about anywhere….but with the stories, priceless. And I love your writing style. As fate would have it, I have my first batch of your brownies in the oven right this minute!

      June 4 I leave Paris for cooking school in Toulouse, owned by a chef I met when we were both just 18 and I was in Paris for the summer with my best friend (1982) before college. I’m excited to share your blog and books with my chef friend, and I used your list of gifts from America to shop and weigh down my suitcase. I’ll be curious to see if he is as unfamiliar with a Microplane grater as he claims to be—-it’s unthinkable to me that someone wouldn’t have this in their kitchen! As I proudly reveal the cadeau of heavy duty tinfoil I’ll think of you, David.

      (the school I’m going to is L’Atelier de Cuisine Gourmande and the chef is Renaud Defour in case you’re curious).

      So many, many thanks all around. I enrolled in cooking school on a lark after selling my divorce mediation business (thank you, Jesus, for finding me a buyer!) and it’s been life-changing. It led to me picking up your book as well as reconnecting with Renaud after 32 years.

      THANK YOU and congratulations on your new book!
      Diana Mercer

    • Very interesting post ! I will definitively buy your book !

    • I enjoyed this so much — well except for the part where you lost everything and had to begin again. Can’t imagine. Your gorgeous book is on my counter and I’m enjoying it as a story first. The cooking will come because the recipes sound wonderful but for now, I’m just reading. We were getting ready to go to Paris for the first time a year ago, so My Paris Kitchen is also sparking memories of that great trip. Can’t wait to get started.

    • I whipped up the three tapenades and the beet hummus as my contribution to an Easter feast. All four were smashing successes, not to mention drop dead easy to put together. I’m looking forward to trying some of the more daunting recipes.

    • I’ve anxiously awaited this cookbook and one of the reasons was that beautiful cover. What brand is that copper pan – I feel it’s a beautifully worn Matfer Bourgeat saute pan, but I’m not sure.

      Could anyone fill me in?

      Thanks!

    • Congratulations David. Thank you so much for sharing this behind the scenes glimpse into the process that resulted in your wonderful book. I’d only discovered your a couple of months ago and immediately ordered your book, which I love for the writing as much, if not more than the recipes. I hope your book tour will bring you to Toronto, so I can thank you in person!

    • Dear David
      Having written a chapter for a nursing book I feel your pain. However the final product looks glorious and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I am holding my breath (metaphorically) until you tell us when you’re coming to London. I admit that i owe you a debt of thanks for transforming many tedious grey commutes with your blog so I wish you well with the new adventure.
      Cheers
      Carol

    • This post was so inspirational for me! David and his website has been my #1 inspiration to start my own food blog, which I just launched this past Monday. It’s a lot of hard work, but post like these are precisely that keep me going, so thank you & congratulations on the book!

    • I’ve seen your book now on the shelves at a few places–it looks very nice. Great cover, your typically pithy commentary and stories all seen charming. I pick up the book whenever I’m in a bookstore (at least 2-3 times a week) and enjoy looking through it…but…but…

      I probably won’t pick it up to buy.

      Why? It’s just that the recipes come across as so…international. While I’ve come to expect with the homogenization of cultures, particularly in terms of cuisine, to expect things like socca and North African cuisine to be ‘French’ despite being imports, the general scope of the recipes included seems to be less Indigenous French than a hodgepodge of varied cuisines.

      And these days, MY preference is for French cuisine cookbooks.

      All that being said, I would be remiss to fail to point out that I still enjoy your blog and still refer to your books held at our local library. I might still pick up yr book just to read your stories and enjoy your writing, but will wait for it to appear in either the library or the myriad used bookstores around. Tally ho!

    • I’ve been mulling over ideas…titles..stories…. and I do want to write a book. You told me once to use my blog as a template, and I’m over the 1000 mark in stories. Still my co-producer who cleans up my grammar and thoughts, sometimes chops the stories in my head, simpler, is less? Dunno, food, bread are my passion. I think this article is the most insightful…and yet, how do you tell yourself to capture so many ideas, and then find those in others books, and wonder if there is space for your stories left to tell?

      Thanks David, hope to see you in NY if I can get out of work!

      Jeremy

    • David, thanks for the great book! It arrived Monday and yesterday (Friday) I tried my first recipe, Chicken with Mustard. I made it exactly as written (minus thyme–it was a cold winter and my thyme didn’t survive) and it was a hit. My boys, ages 10, 6, and 4, all loved it and said so, and even my 6-month-old baby enjoyed it pureed! Perhaps you could branch out into baby food books?! ;-)

      So, now Coq au Vin is marinating in the fridge. We are looking forward to it.

    • Bought this beautiful book about a month ago and have already made four recipes…the cover recipe of chicken, warm chocolate cake (served with caramel and sea salt ice cream), potatoes gratin, and cart cake. My family is smitten with these meals and I intend to make many more. Love the stories that accompany the recipes. Thank you for sharing such a Paris dream……..

    • David, after enjoying your food and writing, I finally got to meet you and get the new book signed today at Farmer’s Market in Hollywood! The book is amazing, the cover spot-on, I am giddy!

    • I was so excited to meet you in person at Williams Sonoma today, even if I could only hear your voice during the Q&A hehe. I’m sure your book and recipes will bring my mother back to her youthful memories of living in a Paris apartment =) Safe travels!

    • Congratulations on the book David. It’s an excellent effort and an excellent cookbook

    • Hi David,
      Thank you for sharing the tips of delicious food. I am so excited to make this dish as soon as possible. Its my hobby to learn new dishes.

    • Just wanted to say I’m loving ‘My Paris Kitchen’. I’m reading it a few pages at a time to better absorb and enjoy it. I’ve only just exited the introduction section about ingredients and equipment, and I’m looking forward to savoring the rest of it. Everything is lovely down to the paper, the colors, the photos, the substantialness of it all. Soooo good! Thank you.

    • I just finished reading your whole cookbook as it if was a book! I love the stories that preface each recipe…often that gives me just as much inspiration to try a new recipe as the photo!

    • Félicitations, David!!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the whole process from conception to birth! Soooo interesting! I have always loved all things books, type, design and especially when paired to food and a good story. What you mentioned about the shift in direction that cookbooks of late have taken, mostly due to the advent of blogging, is so true!!! And the truth is that it makes cookbooks that much more enjoyable and accessible!

      Can’t wait to get my copy! And maybe one day my dream will become a reality like yours! Merci!!!

    • Wow. Thank you so much David for posting this, I loved getting this behind-the-scenes glimpse of the process behind the book. I am going to be ordering it on Chapters now! And next time you come to Canada, you should stop over in Ottawa – the food scene here has really been buzzing lately!

    • This was a fun post to read. Thanks a bunch!