Prolific Cookbook Author Marlena Spieler Dies
Plus they're doing Top Chef Scon?!
Howdy cookbook fans!
How’s everyone doing? It’s hot and boring here in Central Texas, so we’ll skip any kind of weather talk in favor of discussing what I have been lovingly calling TOP CHEF SCON! It’s been announced that the next season of Top Chef will be filmed in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, in addition to other areas of the state. It is the weirdest thing to have spent most of your life and career fielding questions about Wisconsin food like “do they eat salads that aren’t made out of jello there?” only to find a whole season of television will be featuring said food! Quickfire challenge: CHEESE CURDS! Restaurant wars: SUPPER CLUBS! C’mon, this will be great.
Okay but my question for you all is: would you be interested in live episode chats during the season, for paid subscribers? I know it’s not cookbooks or recipes, but Top Chef contestants are often cookbook authors in the making. Also if there is anything I know, it’s Wisconsin food. And I…do have a history with Top Chef, thanks to my past at Eater dot com. (We once snuck a friend of mine into Restaurant Wars…who’s the magic elf now?!) Anyway if you’re interested we’ll do it. If not, no worries.
Okay enough nonsense, cookbooks time! It’s real summer now and news is kinda slow.
Recipes are short stories that all have happy endings.
—Minnesota cookbook author Beth Dooley, in a profile in MSP Mag. [MSP]
Prolific Cookbook Author Marlena Spieler Dies at 74
Marlena Spieler, San Francisco Chronicle columnist and author/contributor to over 70 cookbooks, has died at 74. Her subject expertise was broad, and over the course of her career she wrote books about international and regional cuisines, single ingredients, vegetarian cooking, techniques, and practical home cooking. She made a particular specialty of writing about the foods of her Jewish heritage; I turned up at least a dozen on Amazon. Her 1992 cookbook From Pantry to Table won the JBFA for Convenience Cookbooks. The Forward has collected a variety of social media remembrances from pals.
Spieler had been writing a newsletter called, and additional condolences and remembrances are being collected on the post below.
Coming Attractions: Outdoor Cooking, South Asian Ice Creams, Viral Recipes, MORE!
Pooja Bavishi, founder of New York ice cream shops Malai, to write Malai: Frozen Desserts with South Asian Flavors. Bavishi is know for flavors like star anise, which chocolate corianger, coconut saffron, and more. Not just ice cream, the book will also cover non-dairy options, cookies, cakes, and sundaes. Weldon Owen, spring 2025. (Is this our first 2025 deal? Maybe.)(I hate how Substack pulls in Instagram recently, ugh, go back to the old way.)
Rashad Frazier, founder of Camp Yoshi, a guided outdoor adventure company that “create[s] a space for BIPOC and our Allies to unplug, in order to reconnect with the wilderness,” to write Belonging in the Outdoors, recipes and tips for “diversify[ing] the outdoor space, one campfire-cooked meal at a time.” This will be on 4 Color Books, pub date TBA.
Carolia Gelen (1.1 million followers on Instagram) to write an as-yet untitled cookbook of “highly shareable, approachable recipes for delicious meals without the stress.” Clarkson Potter, pub date TBA.
Rachel Riggs, aka @cleaneatingfoodist, sent this one in through the tipline: she will write All in Good Taste, a cookbook for those diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). She says the book’s “unfussy recipes with short ingredient lists that are easy to prepare” are also suitable “for those living with chronic illness, food allergies, and energy limitations.” It will be published June 2024 and proceeds from the first year of publication will go to the Open Medicine Foundation.
Recipe developer/food stylist Diana Yen to write Slow Burn, “a cookbook of simple, accessible outdoor live-fire recipes to make over a fire pit.” Artisan, pub date TBA.
Allyson Reedy to write The Phone Eats First Cookbook, with “50 Instagram and Tiktok recipes.” I would be eyebrows at this as… I dunno, y’all, I am so burnt out on “viral TikTok recipes” that are actually things people have been cooking for 200 years HOWEVER she is also going to explore “how the proliferation of food photography on social media has influenced the public's appetite for food culture and changed how we talk about, prepare, and eat food,” which is something a bit more interesting. Rizzoli.
SHUTTERS Cookbook, a cafe here in town at the new(ish) central Austin Public Library, has shuttered. The whole deal was the menu featured recipes from cookbooks. (They actually once featured a recipe from one of my books without mentioning it to me, and thus attributed it to me, incorrectly—it was a local restaurant’s recipe). Neat idea, but. No word on a replacement concept. [Chronicle]
Above: Natasha Pickowicz discusses her new book, More Than Cake, with Salon. [Salon]
Can reading computer code be a similar pleasure to reading recipes? [Clive Thompson/Medium]
Okay, that’s all for today! See y’all soon. I hope you’re staying cool, it is endlessly, brutally hot where I am. <3