Course Spotlight: Writing Cookbooks

Jessica Carbone (she/her/hers) will be teaching MET ML 610, Writing Cookbooks, in the spring 2023 semester.

Course Description:
Cookbooks are artful, researched, evocative, and often personal texts that take a tremendous amount of craft and vision to execute. They are also products that sit at the unusual intersection of literature and commerce, informing but also soliciting the buy-in of a broad, varied readership. How are cookbooks crafted, and what considerations should be taken to make a cookbook as powerful and successful as possible?

Here is a bit of Professor Carbone’s vision for the course:

Professor Jessica Carbone

This course is designed both for students who have long desired to write a cookbook, but also for people who wish to have a more critical, engaged conversation about the process of crafting and selling a cookbook into the broader culinary marketplace.

The class will toe that line between art and commerce, looking at examples of successful and pathbreaking cookbooks across culinary history (and across culinary audiences) and the opportunities to develop voice, argument, and aesthetic in the cookbook format, while also investigating such details of a successful proposal as recipe development and styling, researching comparable titles, and thinking about the potential sales and placement issues required for a cookbook to reach its target audience.

A typical class will involve a blend of workshopping materials for each student’s cookbook proposal, a discussion of readings and assigned tasks, and guest lectures from experts in the cookbook field, including leading culinary book agents, trained recipe developers and testers, and experienced food photographers and stylists. (We may even take over the kitchen a few times to test—and taste–each other’s recipes!) By the end of the semester, students will have a complete draft of a cookbook proposal (with recipes and photographs) in hand to develop and potentially pitch to future outlets.

Whether or not you intend to become a cookbook author someday, this class should deepen your understanding of the genre and the multifaceted work it entails.

MET ML 610 Writing Cookbooks will meet in-person Tuesdays 6:00-8:45 pm for the Spring 2023 semester.

The course is open to graduate students and upper-level undergraduates who may register via the Student Link. Non-degree seeking students can find registration information here.


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