While Durham works to be voted the Tastiest Town in the South, there are people here working on some great food related projects. A cookbook is one of them.
Durhamites Ali Rudel (This & That Jam) and Elizabeth Turnbull (Old Havana Sandwich Shop) seeks to tell the story of how Durham, a former Tobacco Town, has found redemption in food.
Recipes for Starting Fresh will come primarily from Rudel and Turnbull, but at least one-third of the recipes are expected to come from Durham-based chefs and food artisans as well as the farmers who grew the ingredients.
“Agriculture bore our city, and it’s playing a major role in the revitalization as well,” says Rudel. Featured in such illustrious outlets as The New York Times, Bon Appétit, The Food Network, and Southern Living, Durham is known across the US as a food lover’s paradise. While it’s generally understood that this food culture is possible because of the incredible local ingredients available to the area’s chefs, the farmers have to this point remained mostly behind the scenes. Starting Fresh is bringing those farmers into the spotlight where they belong.
While the cookbook’s creators expect to take advantage of modern tools allowing them to engage their readers through features such as links from the cookbook to online video tutorials, this project is slated to be more than just a cookbook. Starting Fresh will also feature profiles of local farmers and recipe contributors as well as meaningful essays from Durham-area writers and journalists.
Without a doubt, one of the major highlights of Starting Fresh will be the photographs from Durham- based photographer, Annemie Tonken of Megapixie Photography. “When this book isn’t open on your kitchen counter, we want it to be displayed proudly on your coffee table,” Tonken says. Rather than the more standard food photography found in most cookbooks, Tonken's images will center on meaningful portraits of Durham's farmers, chefs, and food artisans, as well as images of the landscape that gives Durham its distinct flavor.
Starting Fresh is slated for publication in 2014 by Light Messages Publishing, a small local publisher specializing in emerging authors. Turnbull, one of the cookbook authors, is also the Senior Editor for the family-run publishing firm. “My family has always loved good food, and we love Durham. So, honestly, this wasn’t a hard pitch to make,” Turnbull says. “From a company perspective, we see this as an opportunity to really put us on the map with area readers and food lovers.”
To document the progress on the cookbook, Rudel and Turnbull have started the Starting Fresh Blog. Throughout the project, Rudel, Turnbull, and Tonken will post recipes, photos, and stories about the challenges and triumphs of taking on such an ambitious project.
Durham has lots of great food events each year. Keep up to date on those with the Durham Event Calendar. Vote for Durham as the Tastiest Town in the South by visiting this page.