Michael Natkin

Michael NatkinWe visit with Michael Natkin, who left his job in software engineering to follow his passion for food and devote himself to an innovative vision of vegetarian cooking. He is the author of the immensely popular and award-winning vegetarian blog Herbivoracious and his new book, Herbivoracious, is out from Harvard Common Press in May.

As I've been working on Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes the past couple of years, it has been a lot of fun to see how everyone around me has gotten excited about it. Everyone has great questions, and believe me at the beginning of the process I didn't have any of the answers! This is my first cookbook. I knew how to develop recipes, photograph them and write them, but I really didn't have any clue about how the publishing industry works. I had the great good fortune to land with The Harvard Common Press, and they have led me through the entire rest of the process. I certainly have learned that an author is only as good as the team surrounding them. Without a great publisher, editor, designer and sales & marketing folks, you'll never produce a book you can be proud of.

herbivoracious coverOne question *everyone* has is about the name, Herbivoracious. To make a long story short, when I launched the blog it was briefly called The Vegetarian Foodie, which I hated. I started looking for a new name right away, and a friend suggested Herbivoracious. I thought it was clever because it merges "herbivore" (which technically I'm not, I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian, not a vegan, but most folks get the idea) and "voracious" - which I definitely am! I never stop cooking, eating and learning about food. Folks do have trouble pronouncing the name, but on the upside once they get it, they will never forget it. I've made the mission of both the blog and the book to provide vegetarian recipes that are delicious, satisfying, and attractive so that anyone looking to make a meatless meal will find something exciting. This book is for omnivores and vegetarians alike.

My book is just about to hit stores, so this is a great time to reflect on what I liked most about the process. And for me, I don't think that has changed. What I love to do most is hit the great markets and stores around Seattle, see what is fresh and beautiful and create new dishes. I'm constantly reading about food, watching food shows, and eating at as many good restaurants as possible, so I keep my mental hopper full of ideas that I can play with to spur that creativity. So cooking, photographing the food, and sharing it remains the central spark.

As to what I didn't like, well that's easy: washing dishes. I've worked in a few restaurants, and let me tell you, being able to use whatever pots, pans, bowls and utensils you need and simply drop them off at the dish pit to be cleaned is a great luxury. Most of my recipe development for the blog and book has been done at home, often late at night, and I tell you, it is mighty disheartening to be done creating a dish, recording the ingredients and steps and getting a nice photo at 11 PM only to see the sink stacked high with pots that must be done before I can hit the sack!

1 Comment

  • Harvestmoon  on  5/9/2012 at 9:06 AM

    I had the good fortune to meet Michael in Austin last week. His food was fabulous tasting, and the book is totally gorgeous! I am in cooking school now, I so agree about washing those dishes! We do tons of them, and sweep and mop the floor every night as well! I have pics on my blog of the food he created for us. http://plantbasedplanet.blogspot.com/2012/05/guest-michael-natkin-herbivoracious.html

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