If you know the name Andrews McMeel Publishing, your first thought is probably humor, as in Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield or Ziggy. But the Kansas City-based company is well on its way to becoming one of the nation’s cookbook publishing powerhouses.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
Australian-born Kirsty Melville arrived in Kansas City in 2005 after more than a decade at publishing firm Ten Speed Press, based in Berkeley, Calif. As president and publisher of the AM book division, she started the catalog of cookbook titles from scratch.
To build credibility, Melville partnered with gourmet experts Sur la Table for a series, then snagged up-and-coming chef John Besh’s “My New Orleans,” edited by Dorothy Kalins, founding editor of Saveur. Melville also has tapped into the local talent pool, publishing several barbecue titles by Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk, including “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle” (out May 7), “Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook,” Judith Fertig’s “Heartland” and the coffee table-worthy “Bluestem: The Cookbook” by chefs Colby and Megan Garrelts.
From her current stacks, Melville pulls a farm-to-table favorite: “Japanese Farm Food” by first-time author Nancy Singleton Hachisu. Chockful of recipes and 100 color photos, the volume won a Gourmand World award last year and has been nominated for a prestigious Julia Child award by the Association of International Culinary Professionals (winners will be announced April 9).
Such lavish cookbooks are expensive to produce in a world that has become increasingly digital — and drowning in free recipes. Yet Melville refuses to panic: “Cookbooks that are recipe books only are in danger, because you can get those online. But themed, curated books with beautiful photographs? People still want those. They’re a different thing than recipes. They’re keepsakes.”