Since 1987 the Mt Eden dining institution Cazador has been consistently surprising us with an inventive approach to preparing and serving game but following the lockdown they have well and truly pulled a rabbit out of their hat by launching the Cazador Delicatessen.
The Dominion Rd delicatessen’s slick European fit-out, complete with striking green subway tiles, rows of covetable condiments and a cool coffee machine, sits next door to the restaurant and offers prepared meals along with sandwiches, pies and pastries. Consider your next party platter sorted with a selection of Cazador’s famous bacon, parfait, salami, pastrami and babaganoush.
While the main restaurant is currently suitably spaced out for limited reservations, you can have your taste of Cazador Delicatessen from Monday to Saturday. They’re calling it the newest addition to an old restaurant, we consider it pivoting with perfection.
This year we are taking a hiatus from Denizen’s eagerly-anticipated annual celebration of Heroes. We look forward to paying proper tribute to influential New Zealanders when the battle against Covid-19 is over. In the meantime we look at back at the inspiring stories of the trailblazers we have honoured in the past and continue to proudly call Heroes. Meet hero Deborah Smith.
I’ve just hustled my way into the common room at Mercy Hospice. The clamour of young voices and a carpark brimming with SUVs playing dodgem makes it feel more like a primary school at 9am on a Monday morning, as opposed to the wary place of hushed palliative care I’ve come to know. It’s an extraordinarily sunny Sunday afternoon and the young voices belong to a group of 20 odd children, varying in age from five to 15. They are here to attend Cloud Workshop, a free art programme for young people dealing with the death of someone in their immediate family.
As name tags are written and applied, brown paper is taped over tables by volunteers, young and old greet each other as an excitable buzz ensues. At approximately 1.30pm, the workshop’s leading lady, Deborah Smith, calls everyone to gather around. Children take a seat on the floor in front of her, much like they would in a classroom, while various adult volunteers and parents instinctively form a protective band around them.
Standing next to Smith is a helper, six-year-old Tom, who assists in announcing the plans for today. “First, I would like to give a very warm welcome to you all,” Smith announces. Recognising all but one familiar face, shortly afterwards she asks, “Tom, would you like to remind everyone why we’re here today?” The young boy states promptly, as though out of mundanity, “We’re here because we have all lost someone close to us.” It is all that is said on the matter before Smith, with the help of artist John Reynolds, begins to explain what today’s task is — making masks — before diving in without further ado.
Cloud Workshop takes place once every six weeks. For hours at a time, children suffering a family bereavement can immerse themselves in creating contemporary art as an escape from the sadness of what is happening around them. Smith, both an established photographer and photography teacher who has achieved legendary status at schools like St Cuthberts College, explains what instigated the concept: “I wanted to help a friend whose partner had just died of melanoma. Her kids wouldn’t go to therapy, so I was searching for something for them to do.” No stranger to loss herself, Smith had to deal with her father’s death when she was only 18-years-old and he was 42. As the eldest of four children, she felt the weighty responsibility of needing to safeguard her younger siblings. She goes on to say about her friend’s children, “There was nothing… which, in a way, made me quite angry and upset. I was really shocked to find out that in the huge amount of time [that had passed between her father’s death and her friend’s partner’s death] it didn’t appear that there was anything new to support bereaved children. But in the meantime, there’d been a lot of research, even out of places like Harvard, about the vulnerability of bereaved children and how fragile they really are”.
To be clear, Cloud Workshop doesn’t purport itself as a form of therapy. Rather, it is a forum for creativity where young people are united in their circumstances. Every session, the children are given a project; painting pillowcases to keep bad dreams away; building models; creating Joseph Cornell-inspired 3D scenes, concertina books and dioramas from scratch; or in this case, crafting masks designed to make them laugh or to hide away. Usually, there is an underlying theme they may or may not draw upon concerning what they’re going through, but there is no expectation that the children need to talk about their ordeal.
“I try not to back anyone into a corner,” says Smith. Most often, there are cases of ‘accidental therapy’. One such example includes a moment during a bathroom break when Smith was standing outside waiting with a group of boys. Thinking about it, she innocently remarked how every single one of them, including herself, had lost their father. The next question came from one of the little ones: how did your dad die? “My father had melanoma,” she replied. “Mine did, too,” said another. “My dad had depression,” came another voice. “You know, that’s another type of illness, don’t you?” the teacher asked. He didn’t know. And that is a big part of the problem.
“Unless kids are hysterical and rolling around on the floor, people think they are fine. But that’s not necessarily true. They still need to be told stuff,” Smith says matter-of-factly. “There’s a cliché about resilience. I don’t think kids are born with it; I think they need help to be taught it. [Through Cloud Workshop] I wanted them to have something that would make them feel strong.”
The initiative might seem like a crucial one in our society, where support networks ought to be readily accessible, but the concept wasn’t exactly encouraged in the beginning. Before Cloud Workshop first launched in 2008, there were many doubters — ‘It won’t work… You’ll never be able to do this… It’s too sensitive’ they said. Smith admits, “The biggest challenge to get it started was actually with the parents and caregivers, convincing them that we weren’t going to take the lid off their children and send them home. Convincing them that actually we were all about empowering, not the opposite.”
But Smith pushed on, and now the classes are filled within five minutes of being announced. “It’s a simple idea that takes a lot of energy. It’s about creating solidarity around what all these kids are going through. I believe in art. It doesn’t matter whether you want to be an accountant or an All Black later in life, if you’re able to be creative, you’ll have an edge. And that’s what I want to equip these children with.”
As I look around at everyone present, kids entirely absorbed in what they are creating, sharing a common bond with those around them, adult volunteers soaking up the fertile imaginations and young energy, I can’t help but think that this is a kind of therapy. An unspoken way of healing that might just make the difference between a child who can’t cope and a child who can.
Smith could easily dedicate all of her time to Cloud Workshop which takes days of research and preparation in the lead up to each session, not to mention the time she is pouring into her new pilot programme for adolescents, Cumulus. But there is no doubting her commitment to it, “I guess for me, it’s the most important, wonderful work I’ve ever done in my life. Despite the sad premise, it just gives me a lot of joy to think that, when we’re in it, it’s really buzzy. Everybody’s making, and we’re just having a great time and all looking after each other.”
If she could encourage people to do one thing, it would be to start giving back on a community level, to pursue any concept that helps people in need — emotionally or otherwise. “Even if it’s a left-field idea, give it a go. There are a lot of people out there who need relief, so if you have the capacity to provide it, I believe you really should give it a go.”
With a rich history spiralling back centuries, the Italian cultural landscape is littered with classics but one of its most striking offerings only made its debut in the design arena 13 years ago.
From humble beginnings in 2007 with a mere two designers and a single craftsman, Henge has grown into a furniture and lighting force, now available in New Zealand at ECC, helping to define a contemporary approach to Italian design while respecting long-held traditions.
“At Henge the production line is formed by a network of artists, each of them a master of their profession, all linked to the company and trained in that type of production,” says Massimo Castagna, architect and artistic director of Henge.
“Overall, this is what represents the real Made In Italy, a unique production approach, adopted by the company but handed down through many generations.”
Respect for the past can be seen in the name, a gentle riff on the enduring monument Stonehenge, but it’s the cool lines of the award-winning Be Mine coffee table in brass or the attention-grabbing construction of the Starlight pendant light with LED technology, that has pushed Henge to the forefront of design. Henge picked up The Architects Newspaper Award for their Mushroom Table, while the Be Mine scooped the ‘Best Earth Tones’ category at the Wallpaper* Design Awards last year.
It’s Castagna’s passion for creating enduring pieces under the Henge brand that infuses the creativity of each piece.
“We choose materials individually: each piece of stone, each trunk is valued and treated with care, using an innovative approach that takes advantage of their flaws and imperfections,” he says. “We choose to be unique.” That’s uniquely Italian.
As we return to working in offices, dining at our favourite restaurants and rubbing shoulders rather the elbows with loved ones, there is one habit from our isolation lives that should remain – regular hand washing. While the outbreak of Covid-19 sent slick hand sanitiser sales soaring, it’s regular soap that stops the spread of the virus most effectively.
“Washing hands with soap and warm to hot water is still the most effective way to get rid of germs,” says Pablo Kraus, Ecostore’s Managing Director. “And despite what you may think, this doesn’t need to mean reaching for a nasty chemical-laden product. Ecostore handwash is just as effective at killing germs, while being kind to the environment and your skin at the same time.”
To accommodate more frequent hand lathering from responsible people, Ecostore has released two newly designed, larger sized hand wash bottles, with a 425ml pump pack and an 850ml refill. The upsized range includes Mint & Manuka Honey, Vanilla & Coconut, Lemongrass and Ultra Sensitive.
“It’s important to wash our hands more regularly than usual; before we leave the house, when we come home, before meals, after using the bathroom, or after touching any shared surface outside our homes,” Kraus says. “Hand sanitiser definitely has its place for those moments when we can’t get to a basin to wash our hands, but it’s important to stress that hand sanitiser does not remove bacteria like hand wash does. Hand sanitiser simply neutralises the bacteria, but leaves it on your hands, allowing it to resurge later.”
“So stick to hand washing as often as you can, for at least 20 seconds, then rinse with water and dry hands thoroughly. And remember it doesn’t need to be with Hand Wash – any Ecostore bar soap, body wash or even dish liquid will do the job.”
To celebrate the launch of Ecostore’s newly designed hand wash bottles, we have four back to business packs to giveaway for your home or office. Each pack includes six 450ml hand wash bottles and one 850ml refill. Prize will be drawn on Friday 29th May with the winners notified by email.
Chocolate factories have been places of wonder since Charlie got his golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka but the team at Miann Chocolate Factory has unleashed their pure imaginations to create something singularly spectacular.
Three wondrous Wintergarden Glass Houses have been installed in the courtyard of the Miann Chocolate Factory in Morningside, creating intimate, Insta-worthy bubbles for you to safely enjoy the sweetest of curated experiences.
“The Glass House gives people the confidence to enjoy a night out without worrying about crowds,” says Miann Chocolate Factory co-owner and chocolate maker, Brian Campbell. The structures were originally intended to provide the popular operation, which sources its chocolate ingredients directly from growers, with extra space during the age of social distancing but these sweet retreats are here to stay.
Each glass house can accommodate four to a snug six, with a special Dessert Evening Menu featuring a hot drink of your choice (there’s tea and coffee but we suggest the Single Origin Hot Chocolate), a dessert from the a la carte menu, a tasting of six chocolates and a Miann Chocolate Bar and Petit Gateaux to take with you and enjoy at home.
Campbell and his wife Roselle were inspired by social media posts of a the Dutch arts centre Mediamatic, which went viral with similar striking structures. Charlie wishes he’d had it this good.
This year we are taking a hiatus from Denizen’s eagerly-anticipated annual celebration of Heroes. We look forward to paying proper tribute to influential New Zealanders when the battle against Covid-19 is over. In the meantime we look at back at the inspiring stories of the trailblazers we have honoured in the past and continue to proudly call Heroes. Meet hero Jessica McCormack.
There is something transcendent about Jessica McCormack jewellery. While it thrives in its contemporary context, there is an unmistakable air of elusive, old-world appeal. This is jewellery for the modern woman, and yet, in many ways it feels like an ode to women of the past, seeming to exist both as a product of its time and at odds with the concept of time altogether. When it comes down to it, it’s a reflection of its creator. A woman who not only balances practicality and glamour with enviable ease, but in whom the idea of preservation — whether it be of a craft, of an object, or of an attitude — was instilled at a young age. With her unique sensibilities, Jessica McCormack is resurrecting historical craftsmanship to redefine the genre of fine jewellery as we know it and is putting New Zealand on the map in the process.
McCormack’s obsession with the artistry behind fine jewellery started after moving from her native New Zealand to London to work in the Sotheby’s jewellery department. “I was exposed to Russian crown jewels, 1920s Cartier, Lalique,” she tells me, explaining how it opened her eyes to a world into which she had never had access growing up in Christchurch. This hands-on experience combined with a potent blend of work ethic, inherent creativity and good timing, propelled McCormack into the beginnings of her career. But it wasn’t a cut-and-dried path. “I didn’t set out to do this,” she explains. “It was just very incremental, very intuitive and very much about going with my gut and working really, really hard.”
While McCormack was building her first collection, she worked for a diamond wholesaler, gaining an education in gem grading and how best to work with precious stones. One of the first pieces McCormack ever created sold to Rihanna, and while at the time it might have felt like a fortuitous beginning, looking back now, it was an early indication of the kind of success her label would eventually achieve.
Speaking with McCormack, what strikes me first is her unaffected manner. Despite having created what is the undisputed ‘it’ label in women’s high-end jewellery, she doesn’t put on airs, nor does she seem to possess so much as a hint of the haughtiness often associated with those in her industry. While her business might have been born and bred in London’s lofty Mayfair, she still embodies that quintessential, entrepreneurial Kiwi spirit that keeps her grounded, and ensures an ethos of quality remains at the heart of her success.
It’s almost impossible to trawl Instagram without bumping into at least one of McCormack’s designs, usually adorning the décolletage of some Hollywood star or other. Her client list includes the likes of Madonna, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Liv Tyler, Victoria Beckham and Meghan Markle. McCormack’s delicate but striking aesthetic was made distinctive from the beginning, thanks to her decision to revive the traditional Georgian setting. “What I feel it does, is soften the diamond,” she says, explaining it as a more pared-back, refined look. “Diamonds can be super twee and a little bit ageing and harsh,” she says, and although I tend to agree, McCormack’s collections tell a totally different story.
Dispelling the classic claw settings, and instead, encasing her diamonds in a button shape (usually in yellow gold, white gold or oxidised silver), the resulting pieces allow the wearer the unprecedented ability to don their finery at any time of the day — without it ever feeling out of place. “I love the idea that you can wake up in the morning and have your diamonds on with your pyjamas, and then wear them to the gym, and then go to work and afterwards go out for dinner and drink tequila and dance on tables,” McCormack laughs, crediting her unique, “360-degree, holistic way of wearing diamonds,” as part of the reason why her collections have found such a wide and willing audience. “My clients range from 16 to 93,” McCormack tells me, describing a beautiful bracelet she had recently completed for a nonagenarian. Her ability to take something as classical and as typically untouchable as the diamond, remove it from its historical context and reimagine it as something modern and versatile is what has given her pieces such universal appeal. And in many ways, it’s a testament to her upbringing.
McCormack’s late father was an antiques collector and dealer, although she tells me he really had a great many interests. “He was so entrepreneurial,” she says, “he was always doing a million different things whether it was art or antiques or car racing.” Explaining how he was constantly taking her to auctions or antique shops up and down the South Island as a young girl. McCormack credits her dad’s eclectic, collector’s attitude with teaching her how to make something thrive outside its natural environment, by recognising its potential in another. And what her father would do with art and antiques, McCormack now does with diamonds. “My whole thing,” she explains, “is taking something that’s old and beautiful and building it into something that’s modern, relevant, usable, workable and well-designed.” Alongside her revival of the Georgian setting, McCormack draws inspiration from the likes of Art-Deco and The Bauhaus, as well as traditional New Zealand motifs like the Koru. “I’m working on some bigger pieces that will look at more high jewellery with the Koru shape,” she tells me, “by adding Art-Deco-inspired, baguette diamonds to it.” In another nod to her heritage, McCormack reveals that she has just had a number of Pounamu hearts carved for her on the West Coast of New Zealand, as she looks to incorporate the deeper cultural significance of the greenstone into a number of very special, new pieces.
It’s this ethos of embracing and promoting the symbols of her upbringing that is resulting in McCormack drawing attention to the beauty and rich history of her home country. When Meghan Markle wore McCormack’s Tattoo Pendant, for instance, the world’s fashion media started talking about the art of ‘Tā Moko’ and the richness of New Zealand culture. “McCormack’s designs pay tribute to New Zealand and the people who live there,” wrote Amy Mackelden, for Harper’s Bazaar. And it’s true. By her drawing on her own heritage, McCormack is shining a light on our collective one.
It comes back to the idea that, for McCormack, jewellery is as much about telling a story as it is about the craft. Her heart-shaped diamonds talk of love in a charmingly obvious way; her spiralling, Koru pieces speak of family lineage; her Ball n Chain collection is underwritten with the complications of modern womanhood and its need for versatility. “It’s about collection, curation, craft and cult,” the businesswoman explains, outlining her “four C’s,” and telling me how important it is to keep building upon collections in order to create your own story. Jewellery, she tells me, is a lifetime pursuit. “It’s never throw-away, and I think it’s so nice to be able to keep the soul and the energy of a piece while being able to add another layer.” Exemplifying this ethos is her Party Jacket collection, designed to breathe new life into existing rings by enhancing them with specifically-designed, add-on pieces. Even McCormack’s atelier in London is about telling a story. The over 5,000-square-foot townhouse is the site of her store and her workshop (she now has six specially-trained jewellers working for the brand) and is filled with beautiful textural details, walls of books, various decorative objects and art (three of her paintings from the house, she tells me, had recently been loaned to the Tate Modern) that imbues her jewellery with a meaning beyond its aesthetic appeal. “With jewellery,” she tells me, “it’s about the whole experience.”
As important as building a collection that tells a story, McCormack says, is the idea of handing precious jewellery down. “One of my most treasured pieces is a gold Hei-tiki my dad gave me when I was younger,” she tells me, “with garnet eyes.” That jewellery is timeless is not a groundbreaking concept. The custom of passing down pieces from one generation to the next has been going on since time immemorial, but McCormack is giving it a new face. Recently creating a line of antique-inspired custom jewellery boxes, the designer is encouraging her customers to preserve and grow their collections so that they become a kind of personal snapshot. A line up of cross-generational pieces that McCormack likes to think will hopefully still be in existence in a few hundred years. It’s an idea she’s been expressing since her first collection, Messenger of the Gods. Inspired by Greek mythology — specifically Hermes and his winged sandals — it saw McCormack launch her brand with an idea of where she would like it to ultimately end up: passed down through generations after the fashion of folklore.
For now, though, McCormack says her focus is on continuing to build her brand alongside her business partners Rachel Diamond (“Yes,” McCormack says, “she actually married a man named Diamond”) of the famous Oppenheimer diamond dynasty and Michael Rosenfeld — both coming from places of huge expertise in the industry, which makes their partnership and investment something McCormack says is invaluable. “I feel like I’m out of the growing pains stage and now I can look at expansion,” McCormack says, “I’d love to open somewhere in New Zealand.” Despite the designer following this by saying it isn’t something on the cards in the near future, we can take solace in the fact that her jewellery is stocked in Auckland at Simon James Design (the furniture designer is her brother-in-law) — the only place in the world outside her Mayfair store that McCormack’s coveted pieces can be purchased.
That McCormack’s brand will continue to grow, I have no doubt. Her father, beyond instilling in her an appreciation for antiques, encouraged in his daughter an infallible work ethic, something the businesswoman still carries with her today. “As my dad always said,’” McCormack explains, “it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, as long as you do it to the best of your ability and apply yourself.” It’s something she tells me she wants to pass down to her three children — now aged two, three and four — saying “I just want them to have that similar, New Zealand, no-nonsense work ethic, which I think is everything.”
Recently, one of McCormack’s rings was included in a major sale entitled ‘In Bloom,’ at Sotheby’s New York, where it sat alongside incredible pieces from the likes of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. To me, it felt like a full-circle moment for the designer, whose career has seen her go from working in auction houses to being included in the pages of their catalogues. Having created a business that is making serious waves in an industry populated by long-established, historical houses (not typically an easy space to break into for newcomers), Jessica McCormack with her practical attitude, creative approach and ability to see the bigger picture, has established herself as an entrepreneurial force to be reckoned with, and someone whose work will speak for her long after she stops creating it.
There’s no point resorting to baby steps when attempting to slip back into stride with new season footwear after an agonising period of self and style isolation. Boots offer the instant satisfaction of delivering a fashionable fix while punching above their weight in the practicality stakes, especially as temperatures begin to challenge exposed ankles in strappy sandals and minuscule mules.
While boots have been runway staples in the autumn/winter collections for decades, in recent seasons designers have moved away from paparazzi-bait, such as Perspex heels and buttock-high cuts, to more pedestrian-friendly fits. Here are the key styles made for walking, strutting or simply admiring.
Ankle boots offer the simplest transition from your autumn wardrobe into winter, with a compact silhouette that works just as easily with jeans as jumpsuits. Chunky heels will help you navigate puddles while offering some much needed extra inches to stop your silhouette from drowning beneath winter coats. Luxe leather extends your boot’s wearability from nine to five and beyond.
Animals prints continue to attract front row tribes, with tiger, zebra and snake styles fighting it out to rule the fashion jungle. The easiest way to incorporate these boots with bite into your working week ensembles is to shift the rest of your wardrobe into a determinedly neutral gear. Worn with basic black, navy or beige essentials, your boots offer unexpected impact, signalling your permanent place on the winning team at work.
Your Knee High boot looks intimidating but is actually the hardest working item in a woman’s shoe wardrobe today. They anchor flirty pleated mini-skirts, tap into the bougie seventies vibe with maxi-skirts, can accommodate tucked-in trousers for the fashion forward or balance out blazers and oversized sweaters worn as dresses (a la Ariana Grande). Keep heels solid to maintain your grip on reality and let your style creativity loose above the knees.
Over the past eight weeks the Denizen team have been fully committed to producing engaging editorial content that has kept local businesses at the forefront of people’s minds. Our increase in online content has resulted in our website traffic doubling over this period, our social media following increasing substantially, and we’ve welcomed more subscribers to our Denizen Weekly newsletter. All of which puts Denizen in a fantastic position to continue with both our online and magazine publishing.
For decades magazines have been widely loved for their ability to chronicle the times. This current period of uncertainty is no different. Right now exists an extraordinary opportunity as journalists to document the feeling of the time, and to share stories of how collectively our local brands are pivoting to respond to what the future holds.
It’s also no secret that currently Denizen is one of the only credible magazines remaining in the NZ marketplace, so we feel a strong responsibility to uphold the concept of quality magazine publishing at this time.
In our twelve strong years of independent publishing, we have carved out our own niche by creating content that informs, entertains and inspires through unique and innovative storytelling. If any media business is qualified to successfully navigate the road ahead, it is Denizen.
Our forthcoming Winter issue will share stories of how our local Denizens are pivoting to respond to what the future holds. We’ll profile the movers, shakers and the innovators who are seizing this rare opportunity to evolve and embrace our new way of life.
As readers and supporters, we thank you again for your ongoing encouragement, we’re positive that together we can create a brighter future for us all.
Our winter issue will be released on 30th June 2020.
Words Margie Riddiford | PHOTOS Murray Fredericks | 16 May 2020
Sitting stoically on the foreshore of Sydney’s harbour, in one of the city’s most sought-after suburbs, this impeccably realised home is a study in contrast. Designed by Matthew Woodward Architecture, the house is a vision of contemporary architecture and is at once in sync and at odds with its natural environment.
The first thing you notice about The Kutti Beach House is its lightness. It boasts a number of large windows and skylights, which is something you’d want too if your home had the same breathtaking outlook. And despite the fact that most of the property is rendered in monochromatic concrete and white, the subtle touches of wood and the copper tones of the heavy doors and feature windows give the sense that everything in this house has a purpose. The pared back colour scheme allows the abundance of natural beauty surrounding the home a frame through which to shine, while the undulating architecture acts as a homage to the expansive body of water spreading out from the back of the property.
It is a perfect juxtaposition. A meeting of nature with all the modern conveniences of the contemporary (and technologically advanced) home. But neither feel the need to cancel the other out. They acknowledge each other’s presence and equal importance to the homeowners’ experience — and that’s why it works so brilliantly.
Between the simple furnishings, considered touches (like the dividing wall of mottled marble in the bathroom) and the unique structure and layout, this home offers a profound sense of calm and order — everything feels in its rightful place. A testament to the expertise of those involved in the property’s construction, there was the potential with a site like this to try and achieve too much — to try and make it too many things (rather than focusing on only a few crucial elements). Luckily, that wasn’t the case and so we are left to admire the impressive handiwork. It’s in achieving this kind of equilibrium —between the modern home and its environment — that the future of architecture lies.
The coffee table book holds a special place in our hearts for its weighty presence, stylised pages and the way it looks when it’s stacked with others of its kind on a designer coffee table. Equally, the cookbook has also long been a staple on our shelves, beloved for the delicious recipes its pages contain — dishes that are brought out on special occasions and memorable dinners. Both breeds are widely cherished, but where the coffee table variety once reigned as the glossy, gift-appropriate show pony (very visible, rarely read), and the cookbook its antithesis (dog-eared, stained and stashed in a corner somewhere), it would seem a new chapter is opening for the latter — and it’s looking set to usurp its polished counterpart.
Over the break, I bought and read Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat, a ‘cookbook’ by Iranian-American Chef Samin Nosrat. It presented what I felt was a new age for the genre. Designed to be read cover to cover, it walked me through the four principles in its title, as the author made the point that anyone, no matter what their experience, had the capacity to make consistently delicious food if they just knew how to treat the four titular elements in their cooking. It was a total revelation. And beyond its informative content, it was presented in such a way that it would look right at home on any designer coffee table (which is where it lives in my home).
It made me think about the kinds of books I had been drawn to of late. A tome from Phaidon called JAPAN, presenting itself as the definitive guide to Japanese cuisine, the delightfully unexpected From Crook to Cook, a cookbook from renowned rapper Snoop Dogg, the beautifully laid out but hefty book from René Redzepi and David Zilber, The Noma Guide To Fermentation, among others that all shared a common theme: food.
Call it a turn to practicality or a sudden desire to up skill, but it seemed that I wasn’t alone in my fascination with beautiful cookbooks. There appears to be now, more than ever, a breed of recipe book that combines practical culinary knowledge with alluring design and a beautifully artistic cover that grants it passage out of the kitchen and into a more visible space. Maybe people want to be seen as more than just collectors of fashion tomes and art bibles. Perhaps they seek recognition as culinary sophisticates as much as cultural ones. I put much of the blame for this shift on Netflix. Never before have we had access to such a wave of cooking shows, each seemingly more artistic and appealing than the last, and I think that these creative cookbooks are answering our desire to introduce some of that sensual magic into our own homes.
That said, I felt it high time we rounded up some of the cookbooks that were capturing our attention for far more than just their food.