Three years and what feels like a million taste tests later, I am finally on the last mile of having the Sahadi's cookbook published. It was amazing to see all of the recipes come to life under the expert team of photographers, stylists and cowriters. Each of the photos and the appendix pages came out beautiful, vibrant and enticing. Colorful bowls of spices intermingled with a bounty of vegetables. The dishes hold so many memories for me and to see them photographed so wonderfully made my heart happy.
When you see photos look so effortlessly gorgeous in magazines or on Instagram, you don’t realize what has to happen to produce that. I know I was caught unaware. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes breakdown. The publisher comes up with a list of shots and then the hard work for the team begins. First, you have to secure a studio. The stylist and assistant shop for every single thing since the studio typically comes with nothing in it. Then a shot list for each day is developed and the perishables are ordered or shopped for accordingly. Every dish is made from scratch with nothing added to the dishes besides the stylist’s expert plating and decorating and the amazing skills of the photographer.
We were lucky to find a studio right near our Industry City shop, so we were able to run back and forth bringing items as needed. My amazing kitchen team was able to produce about ½ of the prepped dishes working around our 2-store kitchen production schedule. It was a feat, but they were able to pull it off and managed to do an absolutely terrific job. Almost every kitchen member contributed and Fred did a wonderful job of coordinating it, so each day I had everything I needed, packed and labelled in a crate to bring with me. I am possessive of my dishes and wanted the book to feel like me and feel like Sahadi’s. That meant doing a lot of the prep ourselves, to personalize each dish. It was worth it in the end.
Day after day the photo wall grew larger and the book finally became real to me. Hundreds of recipes tested and retested. Thousands of tastings later the chosen recipes have come to life. Colorful salads, tons of grilled foods, seasonal favorites and vibrant cocktails have been the cornerstones of my life and the photo wall reflected all of that.
My amazing cowriter Pam Krauss sat with me for a solid week of long photo days tweaking each plate so that the finished product would be perfect. I never realized that the smallest change can have a profound impact on the image. She helped bring my creations to life and the terrific photographer, prop person and stylist team made the photos stunning. Additional shout outs to: Kristin Teig, Nidia Cueva, Caitlin Haught Brown, and Jess Palace for a terrific photography shoot team.
My family has been listening to my ideas for this book and taste testing for years without complaint and I cannot wait for them to see the published book. I am so lucky that my husband Pat and my children Mike and Caitlin are enthusiastic eaters and were willing to try anything I produced. I think every event that they have ever had made its way into this book. While getting ready for the shoot my son graduated from Law School and his graduation BBQ featured many of these dishes. Congrats Mike!
A cookbook is definitely a labor of love for the author. Scents and taste in your mind co-mingle with memories of meals, events and food you have shared with loved ones. Sorting that out and separating the memories from the actual dishes so you can translate that for the reader is much harder than it looks. I’m thrilled to announce that the Sahadi’s cookbook, entitled Flavors of the Sun is coming out in Fall’21 and I look forward to sharing these memories with all of you.