Cookbook store profile – Read It and Eat

This is the latest installment of the EYB feature highlighting independent cookbook stores. We hope you will discover (or get reacquainted with) a store near your home – or plan a new target destination when you travel. We keep an ongoing list of cookbook stores but we’d love to learn about more – especially those treasured by our members. So please share the names of independent cookbook stores that you know, love, admire, or are just plain crazy about. Add a comment to this posting, or email us at with the name, address, and owner (if you know it). We’ll do the rest.

Read It & Eat cookbook store

With all of the sad news in the past few years about long-standing cookbook stores closing their doors, it’s refreshing to see new ones opening, like Read It & Eat, a new cookbook store located in Chicago, Illinois. Read It & Eat is dedicated to providing food lovers with exceptional culinary experiences through carefully selected books, classes and discussions. Owner Esther Dairiam recently answered our questions about the new store:

This is the first cookbook store in Chicago. What made you decide there was a market there?

While Read It & Eat is currently Chicago’s only cookbook store, we are technically not the first. There was a cookbook store which closed about 20 years ago and I believe that they were also located in Lincoln Park. I ran informal focus groups to find out if there was an interest in a concept like Read It & Eat and 90% of the people that I spoke with indicated yes. My research also indicate that the concept appealed to a wide range of demographics and characteristic (age, gender, marital status, kids/no kids, cooking skills, income level etc.).

What is your own background with cookbooks?

My background in cookbooks is what I learnt while researching the business and the everyday learnings from running and managing the store.

Will the store specialize in any areas of cookbooks?

We have a very wide selection of categories and we are currently only selling new books. We are beginning to see some trends; our baking, chefs & restaurants, references, biographies and memoirs categories are big sellers for us. As we progress, we will start to refine our collection based on what we see our customers are interested in.

What events will you be offering in the store?

We offer both author and non-author events (check out the World Calendar of Cookbook Events for more information). Author events include demos and book signings. Our non-author events include dinners hosted by local chefs and cooking classes and demos. All our non-author events will still tie back to a book. For example, we have a cooking class in August and we are using April Bloomfield’s A Girl And Her Greens for inspiration. We also have a cookbook club that meets monthly.

Will you be importing any books from overseas?

I am researching that right now. I plan to attend the Frankfurt bookfair in October (the Cookbook Fair organized by Gourmand Internal is now part of that) to learn more about international titles.

I know you have not been open for long, but what are your bestsellers so far?

Our best selling categories are baking, chefs & restaurants, references, biographies and memoirs sections.

Are many of your customers professional chefs? What are the books that they are buying now?

Yes, we do have quite a few professional chefs. They are really buying from varying categories, including chefs and restaurants, business, references breakfast, meat / game / poultry.

What type of books do you like to cook from yourself? Do you have a favorite cookbook of all time?

I like to cook from books that teach you something about the ingredients, e.g., Nigel Slater’s Tender describes the variety of each type of vegetable, when best to buy and what to look for. I don’t have an all-time favorite; I tend to rotate based on what I am doing at that time. For example, right now, I am trying to incorporate more vegetables in my diet and am cooking a lot from Tender and Vegetables From An Italian Garden from Phaidon.

We also have a cookbook club that meets monthly to discuss books, recipes and techniques while enjoying a meal together.

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One Comment

  • Breadcrumbs  on  July 21, 2015

    So glad you profile cookbook stores Jane & Fiona. I'm in Chicago regularly and look forward to checking out this store on my next trip!

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