I'm surprised and honored my most recent book, FISH, has been named a finalist for a James Beard Award. As anyone who has ever written a cookbook knows, the job centers on the physical work of shopping, picking, measuring, weighing, chopping, dicing, julienning, mincing, mashing, slicing, ricing, spinning, peeling, mixing, scraping, shredding, beating, roasting, broiling, toasting, sauteeing, frying, baking, braising, melting, caramelizing, browning, drying, marinating, brining, smelling, tasting (how much have I missed?!) while scrawling each detail of the process onto the grease-stained pages of a notebook with the help of a dull pencil (that's me, anyway). Later, the messy words and numbers are ordered, checked, put in a document on my Mac and wonderful people, in my case Sarah Billingsley, my editor at Chronicle Books, and the rest of the talented people there, turn the digital file into the material and (at Chronicle, anyway) beautiful object we recognize as a cookbook. (Well, there's nothing very material about the Kindle version, but in any case.) It's a weird job, really, but it's pretty great work if you can get it.
My reward is hearing from people who like my book and, most important, have cooked from it. There's a kind of magic at work in vicariously guiding someone you've never met to cook a meal you know well. Perhaps it's simply the trick of turning such an elemental process as cooking in my own kitchen surrounded by the cozy familiarity of kids, plants and pets into words that result (I hope) in a delicous meal prepared by a stranger in a kitchen far, far away. In short, I'm so pleased to be lucky enough to do what I do. The nomination is a prize in itself, particularly as it comes from others who write and cook for a living.