Cookbook store profile – Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks

Barbara Jo's Books to Cooks

In the late 1990s, Barbara-Jo McIntosh envisioned an epicurean’s delight, where food lovers and cooks of all abilities would find inspiration. She opened Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1997. 

Author of the bestselling Tin Fish Gourmet, Barbara-Jo served on the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards cookbook selection committee for six years.  In 2003, Vancouver Magazine honoured her with a lifetime achievement award for her many contributions to the local culinary scene.

Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks welcomes you to browse the shelves and enjoy the warm and inviting atmosphere. The shop has a full kitchen which is used to demonstrate recipes from new and notable cookbooks. Cooking classes are conducted right in the shop, and guest chefs and cookbook authors often stop by to share their culinary expertise. We recently caught up to Barbara-jo and asked her what makes her shop successful:

Two cookbook stores have closed down in the last year – The Cookbook Store in Toronto and Salt and Pepper Books in Maryland.  How does Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks stay competitive in the current trading environment, where online stores offer low prices and free home delivery?

Our customers enjoy supporting us, understanding that saving a few dollars does not necessarily translate into a happy experience. We focus on giving our customers what they are looking for, either a streamlined experience with expert recommendations, or time to enjoy the ambience of the shop, making their own discoveries.

Why do the customers in your store prefer to come to Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks rather than big general bookstores or online shopping?

We love them and they feel the love when they walk through the door.  We are truly a part of the local community.

Do you specialize in any particular areas of cookbooks?

Our library is dedicated to the culinary arts.  You find everything you want to know about recipes from around the globe, allergies, specific diets, how to raise chickens, keep bees, butcher a pig, grow vegetables, make and drink wine, and preserve the harvest.

We have the events at your store listed on our new cookbook events calendar.  What different types of events do you do?

We feature many types of activities including book signings, demonstration events, dinner events around the books with traveling authors and local chefs, reading club, and technique classes.

What currently are the big sellers at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks?

All of Yotam Ottolenghi‘s books, Change of Appetite by Diana Henry, and The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon.

Do you import many books from overseas?

Yes; some examples include Quay by Peter Gilmore, Charcuterie by Jane Grigson, Essential Cuisine by Michel Bras, Early issues of Art Culinaire (found in Europe), Tripe by Stéphane Reynaud, and Green Pickled Peaches by Chui Lee Luk.

Canadian cookbooks are generally not so well known outside the country.  Which books would you like EYB members to take a look at?

The Sobo Cookbook by Lisa Ahier and Andrew Morrison, Tin Fish Gourmet, The Boreal FeastA Culinary Journey Through the North, and Desserts from my Kitchen by Lesley Stowe.

Are many of your customers professional chefs?  What are the books that they are buying now?

Our professional chef customers are interested in Sat Bains, Seaweed Kitchen, Nature’s Table, Coi, and The Flavor Bible.

What type of books do you like to cook from yourself?  Do you have a favorite cookbook of all time?

Unusual techniques and ideas inspire me.  My favourite book of all time?  La Cuisine by Raymond Oliver because my mom gave it to me when I left home.

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  • DKennedy  on  September 23, 2014

    Wow, so many interesting cookbooks I've never heard of before and for which there is little or no information out there on EYB, Amazon, or anywhere else. Think it might be time for me to venture to BC.

  • trudys_person  on  September 26, 2014

    This is such a wonderful store! I wish I could afford to attend more events …

  • trudys_person  on  March 5, 2017

    Sadly we lost this treasure … Barbara-Jo closed her store on February 28, 2017.

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