It is finally here. The second edition of my À la bonne franquette book has landed at last, updated and expanded to 120, count’em, 120 Québec chefs in all!
Regular readers of this blog may remember that, in 2010, I published the first À la bonne franquette with the help of 80 Québec chefs who provided their fave family recipes (with 10 ingredients no more!), presented along with their region’s best local food offering:
• gourmet trails,
• food fairs,
• iconic terroir products,
• and leading producers.
In other words, the perfect guide to cook it easy and family-friendly or to hit the road and discover the top gourmet stops between Hull and Cap-aux-Meules.
To everyone’s surprise, my publisher among others, the book sold out in a few weeks. We could have simply reprinted it but January loomed, i.e. the godforsaken window of resolution when diet cookbooks rule the food landscape and help perpetuate our self-delusion.
Then came the news: we had been nominated for the Canadian Cookbook Grand Prix, where À la bonne franquette 1 eventually won 2nd prize in the “Best French Canadian Culinary Culture” category. Suddenly, my publisher was on the line…
However Éditions Transcontinental had one itty bitty request to make:
— How about we go from 80 to 120 chefs, are you game?
Of course I answered yes in a heartbeat. The idea of signing what could be one of the most wide-ranging, if not exhaustive, overview of the Québec resto scene was too tempting to say the least. In all honesty though, others had a different take on my foolhardiness. Dixit Giovanni Apollo, top Montreal chef, one of the judges of «Et que ça saute» TV show and a collaborator on my last 3 cookbooks:
— You crazy or what?
One of the biggest challenges for all involved, writer, editor and publisher, is choosing the book cover photo. To do so, the photographer sends you contact sheets like this one. BTW mega thanks to photog Michel Paquet and his team for the magnificent pix. Clean close cuts, white backgrounds, minimal accessories: À la bonne franquette has a distinct photographic signature, striking a delicate balance between taste appeal recipes and the breathtaking Québec scenery featured throughout the book.
From iconic establishments to small bistros and country inns, selecting and convincing 40 new chefs proved an exercise far more demanding than that of the first edition, maybe because I went out of my way to discover that hidden gem. Chefs, journalists and foodies throughout the province were called upon to suggest lesser known but locally praised gourmet stops.
Along the way, I learned that several chefs from the first cookbook had moved, sometimes even out of the country, while a few restaurants had simply closed. As a result, some of my favourite recipes had to be cut from the new edition. Exit among others ex-Manoir des Érables chef Frédéric Cyr’s amazing Chocolate Pudding and the simply delicious Scallop and Coconut Milk Ceviche from ex-Orford Express Train chef Franklin Sanchez…
As a result, the book features not 40, but 55 new recipes, which is almost equal to a brand new cookbook offering. Now you know why this blog has been inactive for the past few months…
In the next few weeks, here and elsewhere, I will be sharing my take on the making of À la bonne franquette with insights from the behind-the-scene life of a cookbook author, along with my favourite recipes and personal food stops as well as local artisan products that you must, must, must try. To get a jump on all the scoops, I invite you to follow me on the book’s dedicated Twitter account at @LivreAlabonneF. A Facebook page is also in the works, so stay tuned…
In the meantime, if you read French, you may want to visit this link to discover the much-lamented Chocolate Pudding from À la bonne franquette‘s first edition, presented by Québec food and fashion blogger Gabrielle Chalifoux. Bon appétit!