20th-Century Cookbooks For The 21st Century
The luminaries of the food world have started publishing love letters to their favorite ingredients, and they aren’t available online. Nick Fauchald, former editor-in-chief at TastingTable.com and founder of the print-to-digital consulting company All Day Media, started Short Stack as a side project in hopes of publishing something timeless and tangible. Inspiration struck at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, a small West Village shop packed with antique recipe books and booklets. “She always has these little pamphlets from the 40s, 50s and 60s that appliance companies and consumer package goods companies, like General Electric and King Arthur Flour, would put out,” Fauchald says. “They’re these beautiful old things. The design is very mid-century, and I always thought of them as an important step in food media. Before food magazines, you had these recipe pamphlets that you’d get with your refrigerator or your new pans, and people cooked from them.”
Short Stack brings back the aesthetic of the mid-century recipe pamphlet by printing beautifully illustrated, zine-sized single-subject cookbooks on high-quality, vividly colored paper that’s handstitched with striped baker’s twine. For each volume, Fauchald hires one of the top talents of the culinary world to share around 20 recipes that revolve around a single ingredient. For example, Ian Knauer, who spent nearly a decade developing recipes at Gourmet, focuses on eggs, and his recipe for Fresh Egg Tagliatelle Carbonara uses almost a dozen: 4 eggs for his foolproof homemade pasta, 1 egg and 6 yolks for the carbonara sauce. Susan Spungen, best known for her work as food stylist on the set of Julie & Julia, takes on strawberries, covering everything from tarts, shortcakes and hand-pies, to a spicy and salty cold soba noodle salad that uses strawberries as an unexpected sweet-tart component. The series continues with volumes devoted to tomatoes, sweet potatoes, buttermilk and grits.
The high production value and low cost of Short Stack’s books was made possible through a very successful Kickstarter campaign that earned almost double its $50,000 goal. Going forward, Fauchald hopes to subsidize costs for the ingredient-centric books by using the Short Stack format to produce recipe books that companies can use as marketing materials—and a few brands have already contacted him. Someday, if General Electric starts tucking Short Stack’s old-school booklets into their modern blenders, toasters and food processors, Fauchald’s retro recipe pamphlet idea will come full circle.