What it's like to be a cookbook ghostwriter
January 10, 2017 2:20 PM   Subscribe

The cookbook ghostwriter is part writer, part recipe developer and part project manager. Whether it's a YouTube phenom or the head of a high-end restaurant empire, the person on the cover didn't always write the cookbook. Sometimes the writer is acknowledged on the cover. Sometimes the writer gets a thank-you in the acknowledgements. Sometimes the writer wants no credit.
posted by veggieboy (16 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Related: I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter.
posted by gyc at 3:49 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]

I want to know what percentage of Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook was actually written by Gwyneth Paltrow.
posted by orange swan at 3:56 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]

Just the Goop recipe.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:10 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]

I saw Anthony Bourdain talk about his latest cookbook alongside his long-time assistant, who is credited as a co-author. Come the Q and A, he could not answer a single question about the writing of the cookbook. The assistant answered pretty much all of them. Props to him for giving her full credit for her work on the book, but it was funny to see quite how little he had seemed to be involved.
posted by Itaxpica at 4:59 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]

Cookbooks are a funny thing. The authors don't write them, and the people that buy them don't use the recipes.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:41 PM on January 10 [19 favorites]

Waiting for the ATK exposé.
posted by rhizome at 8:33 PM on January 10

OMG, I used to know someone who did this for a living in LA! He was so cool! When he found out I was a chef he said to me, "Let's get together soon and play with food!"

I loved that guy. Back in the day I did food styling for cookbook authors in NYC. This is totally A Thing. Come to think of it, I should get back into this! It was really fun!!
posted by jbenben at 11:34 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]

If the Bourdain assistant in question is Laurie Woolever, she's great value and absolutely worth a follow on twitter.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:08 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]

The only celebrity cookbook author I trust is Vincent Price.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:14 AM on January 11

Come on, veggieboy. Quit your waffling. I have the feeling you have some tales to tell.
posted by pracowity at 6:47 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]

It can be confusing to readers to see another name alongside the chef's. And there are certainly times when ego is involved. “Some chefs with different personalities don’t want to need help, they want to appear self-sufficient,”
Fraud. Less confusing, more filling. You know you want it. You would have made us do it if only you weren't so confused. But maybe you like that. That'd be OK with us.
posted by hawthorne at 6:54 AM on January 11

"To Serve Man"
posted by k5.user at 8:33 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

I loved the line about how the ghost writers do it to learn new recipes. Sure. Because that's how professional writers think.
posted by alloneword at 11:52 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]

Am I the only one who thought the title "Cooking For Jeffrey" implied that some terrible fate had befallen Jeffrey and the author was helping him cope through food? Maybe he was undergoing chemotherapy and had no appetite and these are the recipes that helped him get through that painful ordeal? Maybe he lost his memory in a car accident, and these dishes helped him recover memories of people and places?

I was actually a little put out to learn that a) Jeffrey is just some dude and b) the cookbook is only a collection of the recipes he really likes having made for him.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:58 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]

I would not recommend any of the recipes in Cooking for Joffrey, on the other hand.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:17 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]

As an example, Schloss ghostwrote a cookbook for a YouTube food sensation who made great food and videos but whose written recipes were essentially nonsensical. “With that person I knew they just had no interest in accuracy of amounts,” he recalls.
I checked, and yes there is a My Drunk Kitchen Cookbook. Much respect to whoever (I guess Andrew Schloss) distilled recipes out of Hannah Hart's shtick, which is 100% "I'm too drunk to make food using recipes."
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:08 PM on January 11

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