There was the Alinea cookbook, designed and self-published by the Alinea team because who else could meet their own standards of perfection? There were El Bulli's mammoth retrospectives of its work. There was Nathan Myhrvold's vast and plastic-cased Modernist Cuisine. And the next example of this kind of personally-created-outside-the-cookbook-system monument to cooking is sure to be Notes From a Kitchen, a two volume, 900-page multimedia artifact of modern cooking in which recipes sit among photos of worksheets, sketches, dirty tablecloths and video clips, all creating an immersive experience of the minds and workspaces of ten young, innovative chefs. And for a while, at least, the only place in Chicago you're going to be able to get it... is a butcher shop.
The book is the self-published product of artist/filmmaker Jeff Scott and Chef Blake Beshore, focusing on acclaimed chefs including Sean Brock (Husk and McCrady's in Charleston), Johnny Iuzzini (Jean Georges in New York), Zak Pelaccio (Fatty Crab and Fatty Cue in New York), and seven others. It comes in two editions: a special edition in a slipcase, $150, signed by one of the chefs in the book, and a regular edition ($85). Rob Levitt of The Butcher & Larder will have ten signed special editions, the first available in Chicago. How did that happen?
"The miracle of Twitter!" says Levitt. "I saw a tweet from a customer to the authors and responded. We talked on the phone later that day, and they thought we were the perfect outlet. We both agreed that when little guy supports little guy— the book is self-published— it's good for everyone."
It's not the first book that has been offered at The Butcher & Larder, but past ones have been either books that Rob and Allie Levitt were in, or that had to do with appearances at the store. So why this book? "It's really different from anything out there, it's independently produced by good folks, it's a true insight into what this business is like and it's beautiful," says Levitt. "It portrays a certain intensity that reminds me of my time as a young cook. Something I see slipping away these days."
Rob has more, a lot more in that vein, at his shop's blog here.