Cookbook store profile – Good Egg

Good Egg cookbook storeOur latest installment in our profiles of great cookbook stores takes us to Good Egg located in Toronto, Canada. Good Egg is a shop dedicated to those who like to eat. Visit the store and you’ll be immersed in books and things devoted to the art and culture of food. Their selection of books reflects every food philosophy, but they’ve whittled the vast world of cookbooks down to the best of the best. The Good Egg staff is eager to help customers, and they have a large database at their disposal to aid in that effort. Owner Mika Bareket graciously answered EYB’s questions about her shop, now the only dedicated cookbook store in Toronto: 

How does Good Egg stay competitive in the current trading environment, where online stores offer low prices and free home delivery? 

The human factor! We read and test the books, and give our customers honest advice. We’d much make a friend than a sale. Also, we play really nice music in the store, and gift wrap faster than a speeding bullet.

Why do the customers in your store prefer to come to Good Egg rather than large general bookstores or online shopping?

By making discriminating choices in our buying and display. Not that larger retailers don’t, but the size of our store means we need to be extra picky about what we bring in. What we may lack in range, we make up for in conviction.

Until the recent closure of The Cookbook Store, there were two bookstores dedicated to food and drink books in the city. What is about Toronto that sustained two stores whereas many cities have none?

Toronto is the most culturally diverse city on the planet, and with every wave of immigration comes restaurants and grocery stores specific to each ethnicity. Food is the great unifier in Toronto. We’re located in a neighbourhood called Kensington Market, which has been a food hub for many generations. It just made sense to bring a quirky cook book store to the area.

Do you specialize in any particular areas of cookbooks?

We specialize in the best.

Do you sell other products apart from cookbooks?

Oh yes! Everything from budget friendly cast iron skillets, to ergonomic baby spoons. We’re not quite a one-stop kitchen supply shop, but we try to have the essentials. We also carry many books that are not cooking-related per se, but are nourishing in some way.

What are the big sellers at Good Egg?

Yotam Ottolenghi has been our top author for 4 years running. Well deserved! Also, we reorder Niki Segnit’s poetic and lovely Flavour Thesaurus constantly, and the River Cottage series of handbooks do really well, maybe because they’re amazing.

Do you import many books from overseas?

We try to be patient and wait for titles to become available domestically, but some take a year to do so, and others never do. So, yes. Australia and the UK publish many of our favourite books, and well, we can’t resist bringing them in despite the sticker shock due to import charges.

Do you get many chefs shopping in your store? If so, what are the books they are buying?

Chefs make up a growing proportion of our customer base, which is great for us because we can get their professional perspective and offer home cooks more informed opinions than our own. They tend to buy books with good plating ideas and/or in depth-technique, typically those written by other restaurant chefs or Michael Ruhlman, their patron saint.

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

I’m forever obsessed with Nigel Slater. I wish we were best friends. The first cookbook I bought as an adult was Appetite, which I still think is a perfect cookbook. Diana Henry, Fuchsia Dunlop, Jennifer McLagan and Madhur Jaffrey are my “ladies” of cooking. I like lessons from smart and sassy ladies with my recipes.

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  • emeraldwater  on  January 21, 2015

    I love this blog! There's variety and fun everywhere =)

  • hillsboroks  on  January 21, 2015

    I dragged my husband to Kensington Market and the Good Egg when we were visiting Toronto last fall because of earlier stories about it here on EYB. It was well worth the trouble! A fun store and the area is a great place to poke around. I just parked him on one of the silver painted tree stumps outside where he made friends with some other husbands while I browsed in the store.

  • rstuart  on  January 31, 2015

    One of my favourite shops, and dangerously close to me.. thanks for featuring Good Egg!

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