Grant Achatz is working on a new cookbook

 Aviary Cocktail Book photo

Over 500 EYB Members have a copy of Alinea by Grant Achatz on their Bookshelves. Alinea  was one of the first books to bring molecular gastronomy to the masses, written by a groundbreaking chef who continues to push boundaries in the restaurant world. Now Achatz is working on another cookbook, although this one isn’t based on the restaurant, but rather on Achatz’s Chicago cocktail bar, Aviary.

Achatz and his team are eschewing the traditional publication route, choosing to fund the book through Kickstarter. They are partnering with designers Allen and Sarah Hemsberger, who are overseeing the layout and photography. If those names seem familiar, that is because Allen ambitiously cooked his way through every recipe in Alinea and documented the project on the website (and later self-published book) The Alinea Project.

The reason the Aviary team chose this route is because of the constraints placed on authors in the traditional publishing model. On their Kickstarter page, the team notes that most drink books are thin volumes with few pictures and explains that due to profit concerns, a cookbook’s “photography, design, layout, recipe structure, and printing quality are intentionally compromised.” The Aviary team want their book to be on par with works by Thomas Keller or Alain Ducasse, which they describe as “fat, heavy, beautiful books”.

By using the crowd-sourcing platform, the teams believes they can “work unconstrained by design and printing limitations” to offer a higher quality product. The description of their goal is as follows: “Beautiful pictures will show you the finished product. Recipes will be scaled for a single drink or, where appropriate, batched for a party. We’ll even explore rare products, antique selections, and clever culinary techniques that can set your drinks apart.”

There is more to the choice of crowd sourcing than simply having more creative control, however. Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas aim to completely disrupt traditional cookbook publishing. They note that most restaurants and chefs usually do not make much, if any, money on their cookbooks. Between recipe testing, photography, and design, the authors barely break even, an outcome they hope to avoid. “We will do our best to document how we do all of this so other restaurants and chefs can simply skip the publishers,” Kokonas writes. “It’s akin to a music deal – those have largely died – these will, too. Let’s give them a shove over the tracks.”

The minimum pledge to receive a copy of The Aviary Cocktail Book is $60 USD plus shipping and is only available to select countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and United Kingdom (shipping charges vary by country). A signed copy of the book is available to US customers only for $110 USD. They intend to open up to all international orders once the preorder process is complete (May 31); the project already exceeded its Kickstarter goal. 

Photo from The Aviary Cocktail Book Kickstarter page

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One Comment

  • Jane  on  May 4, 2017

    This looks fascinating – I've pledged on Kickstarter. Grant Achatz's memoir Life, On the Line is a great read for anyone interested in the life of a top chef and the workings of a restaurant.

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