Where does a cookbook come from? Not every talented foodie will produce one. But there’s something special about Sophie Morris, co-founder of the food company Kooky Dough and the author of the utterly irresistible new book Sophie Kooks. Gill Bookss’ Deputy Publisher Nicki Howard reveals how Sophie’s culinary magic made the journey from the TV screen to the beautifully photographed page.
How did you first come across Sophie?
Sophie and I lived next door to one another for years, but I wasn’t too aware of her as a potential new voice in Irish cookery until I heard her ‘Dragon’s Den’ story on Brendan O’Connor’s TV Show. We had a number of chats about the success of her food business Kooky Dough and I thought she was so inspiring with her upbeat, can-do attitude. With so many of her friends emigrating, she rolled up her sleeves, got the baking gloves on and made a very successful food business. I thought if we could capture a bit of that ‘feel-good’ attitude into the book we’d be on to a good thing.
When and why did you think she’d be a good person to create a cook book?
People seem to have less time than ever these days. I was at a lecture recently that illustrated the huge amount of demands on our time from the growing number of daily emails we receive to the amount of messages on social media. Yet the number of hours in the day has remained at 24! Added to the fact that we’re all working so much harder in this current economic climate it seems we’re in danger of having less time to do the crucial stuff like nourishing ourselves properly. Sophie is as busy as the rest of us and so I thought if she could share a bit of the magic that keeps her going, keeps her on top of life (and let’s face it, looking that good), people would be inspired.
How closely did you work with her on putting the book together?
We worked very closely. Sophie knew straight away it needed to appeal to young people who are working long hours and who need a bit of inspiration instead of reverting to the default beans on toast or, even worse, bowl of cereal. We thought, how about offering people one or two new meals each week?, because from working closely with Tesco, Sophie knew that food shoppers often buy the same ingredients and make the same meals week in week out. So then we thought let’s structure it monthly so that it becomes even more accessible. Just dip into October for example and you’ll find eight recipes you absolutely feel like cooking right now. There’s ‘Curried Lamb with Coriander and Sweet Potato Mash’, ‘Chicken, Leek and Butter Bean Soup’, ‘Oaty Blackberry Crumble’…. Hmm, it must be nearly dinner time, is it?! We just launched the first eBook short for October, if people wanted to buy the book bit by bit.
What do you think makes a good cook book?
Fantastic photography, excellent design and oodles of personality. There are a lot of cookbooks in the bookshops at the moment, but Ireland’s cookery talent is more than holding its own. We’re publishing 5 cookbooks this year and yet each one is totally different. Catherine Fulvio is Italian cool, Neven Maguire is restaurant dishes, Domini Kemp is fuss-free cooking at home, The ICA Cookbook is Mam’s cooking and Sophie is feel-good. Each needs to stand out, have its own voice and hopefully offer something that the reader wants for themselves or to give as a gift.