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The Joy Of Cookbooks

Daniel Vincek
So many cookbooks, so little cooking.

Food is essential to life. But cooking food well isn't a skill we're born with. Not all of us have the time, money or inclination to take cooking classes, or had parents who taught us to cook. 

Enter cookbooks.

Cookbook sales, especially those by celebrity chefs, are outpacing the sales of many other kinds of books. But Americans go out to eat now more than ever. So, how many of us actually use cookbooks or their online counterparts to make a dish or a meal?

Kyle Cherek, a culinary historian and Lake Effect contributor, says the irony of celebrity chef cookbooks is that most of the book sales are supporting restaurants.

"Every chef I’ve ever met says, 'Oh no, cooking at home is the most important thing you can do. You should cook, you should share with your friends and family, it creates traditions,' " Cherek says. "They’ll go on until my ears bleed about how good that is. And then they’ll say, 'But come to my restaurant!' "

For those who will never eat at a Michelin star restaurant, the celebrity cookbook or website gives us a chance to try something new. And as far as Cherek is concerned, any reason to get us into the kitchen is a good one.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
Kyle Johnson Cherek is a culinary historian and food essayist. He was the former host of Wisconsin Foodie on PBS, and for over a decade he has chronicled regional food stories, exploring where our food comes from, and how it shapes who we are. His signature wit and keen observations have made him a sought-after keynote speaker, media contributor, and culinary storyteller. Kyle has been awarded the Wisconsin Broadcast Association Award twice for his compelling essays on food culture.