Over 500 EYB Members have a copy of Alinea by
Grant Achatz on their Bookshelves. Alinea was one of
the first books to bring molecular gastronomy to the masses,
written by a groundbreaking chef who continues to push
boundaries in the restaurant world. Now Achatz is working on another cookbook, although this one
isn't based on the restaurant, but rather on Achatz's Chicago
cocktail bar, Aviary.
Achatz and his team are eschewing the traditional publication
route, choosing to fund the book through Kickstarter. They are
partnering with designers Allen and Sarah Hemsberger, who are
overseeing the layout and photography. If those names seem
familiar, that is because Allen ambitiously cooked his way
through every recipe in Alinea and documented the project on the
website (and later self-published book) The Alinea Project.
The reason the Aviary team chose this route is because of the
constraints placed on authors in the traditional publishing
model. On their Kickstarter page, the team notes that most
drink books are thin volumes with few pictures and explains that
due to profit concerns, a cookbook's "photography, design, layout,
recipe structure, and printing quality are intentionally
compromised." The Aviary team want their book to be on par with
works by Thomas Keller or Alain Ducasse, which they describe as
"fat, heavy, beautiful books".
By using the crowd-sourcing platform, the teams believes they
can "work unconstrained by design and printing limitations" to
offer a higher quality product. The description of their goal is as
follows: "Beautiful pictures will show you the finished
product. Recipes will be scaled for a single drink or, where
appropriate, batched for a party. We'll even explore rare products,
antique selections, and clever culinary techniques that can set
your drinks apart."
There is more to the choice of crowd sourcing than simply
having more creative control, however. Achatz and partner Nick
Kokonas aim to completely disrupt traditional cookbook publishing.
They note that most restaurants and chefs usually do not make much,
if any, money on their cookbooks. Between recipe testing,
photography, and design, the authors barely break even, an outcome
they hope to avoid. "We will do our best to document how we do all
of this so other restaurants and chefs can simply skip the
publishers," Kokonas writes. "It's akin to a music deal -
those have largely died - these will, too. Let's give them a shove
over the tracks."
The minimum pledge to receive a copy of The Aviary
Cocktail Book is $60 USD plus shipping and is only
available to select countries, including Australia, Canada, New
Zealand and United Kingdom (shipping charges vary by country). A
signed copy of the book is available to US customers only for $110
USD. They intend to open up to all international orders once the
preorder process is complete (May 31); the project already exceeded
its Kickstarter goal.
Photo from The Aviary Cocktail Book Kickstarter