Meet Your Favorite Cookbook Authors at A Literary Feast

All your favorite cookbook authors up close and personal, in one place! That's the promise of A Literary Feast, the Bay Area cookbook-signing party that the San Francisco chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier is throwing inside the Ferry Building on Sunday, November 13, from 3-6pm.

According to the organization, the members of Les Dames d'Escoffier's San Francisco chapter are particularly literary--and successful. The prolific writer-chefs of our city (and its environs) have produced more best-selling, award-winning cookbooks than the Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. chapters combined. Not that we're surprised, of course; the Bay Area has always been an intensely literary place, a vibrant home for readers and writers alike, whose voracious appetite for prose, poetry, essays, memoir, and more is matched only by a passion for food and cookbooks, and the chefs and cookbook writers who pen them.

We love to eat, and we love to read, and we love to eat while hanging out with writers, talking about food and writing. Many of my favorite cookbooks' recipes are annotated with handwritten notes, from questions I've asked our local authors during book signings or cooking demonstrations; it's easy to forget how privileged we are to have so many excellent chefs and authors on hand here as we do. At this event, all of these activities will be encouraged, as many of the cookbook authors on hand will also be handing out tastes of their favorite (or at least most easily served and transportable) signature dishes, as well as selling and signing their books.

Since publishing is a fickle business, and bookstores have finite shelf space, the siren call of the newest and latest can push even popular authors' backlists off the shelves. Once they've been marked down or remaindered, old titles can disappear too fast, like the airy pouf of a soufflé, never to be seen again--a sad happening for completists and collectors, or just those of us who fell in love with a recipe or two but delayed buying the book until it was too late. Since authors, at least those with garages or extra closet space, tend to hang on to their past work, this event may be a chance to finally track down some of your favorite writers' hard-to-find earlier books--and get them personally signed, too.

Who will be there? It's a who's who of a generation of well-known Bay Area writers, including Georgeanne Brennan, Joyce Goldstein, Dorie Greenspan, Paula Wolfert, forager Connie Green, Sunset Magazine's Margo True, Cowgirl Creamery's Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen, chocolatier Amy Guittard, and some two dozen more, including KQED's own Leslie Sbrocco, host of Check, Please! and Taste This, and the author of The Simple and Savvy Wine Guide and Wine for Women.

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The ticket fee ($10 in advance through Cellarpass, $12 at the door) covers entrance to the event and tastes from many of the authors. If you're a woman in the culinary world, and you haven't heard of Les Dames d'Escoffier-San Francisco (LDE-SF), you should: the Bay Area's busy chapter has roughly 100 members, with a mission of "education, advocacy, and philanthropy" in support of women striving for leadership--whether as chefs, teachers, managers, writers, or entrepreneurs--in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries. (Membership in the San Francisco chapter, like all LDE chapters, is by invitation.)

Ticket sales will go towards LDE-SF's Culinary Scholarship Fund, which "provides deserving female culinary students with funding to enrich their education in the culinary world," according to the organization. A portion of the proceeds will also go to support The Garden Project, a nonprofit working with high school students and at-risk youth to provide environmentally-based work training and life skills through its Earth Stewards program; the organization also runs a farm in conjunction with prisoners at the San Francisco County Jail's San Bruno Complex.

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So, stop by on Sunday, November 13, and get your holiday shopping done, and pick up some holiday cooking tips while you're at it.

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