Get the low down on Napa cuisine and provide Pandemic relief to Napa restaurant workers by pre-ordering the new cookbook by Jess Lander!
Jess, tell me about yourself and how you became a food and wine writer?
I moved to Napa Valley almost 11 years ago from Boston on what was pretty much a whim. At the time, I was a sports writer and had been laid off from my job with Boston’s professional women’s soccer team. There was a sports writer position open at the Napa Valley Register and as they say, rest is history.
I didn’t even drink wine at the time, but it’s pretty difficult to live here and not get sucked into the wine world. Within a few years I transitioned to wine, food and travel writing and I even ended up marrying a winemaker. It was much more fun to go to wine tastings and dinners than cover high school football on a Friday night.
What inspired you to write The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook?
Like many people last year, I found myself often feeling pretty helpless, yet wishing I could do something to help the many people struggling through the pandemic, wildfires, social unrest, etc. In Napa, our restaurants especially seemed to be in the greatest danger of closing, but ordering takeout a few nights a week didn’t feel like enough.
Then last fall I discovered a couple of other cookbook projects in the cities of NYC and Boulder and a lightbulb went off. I was pretty confident that people would want to purchase a cookbook of recipes from one of the most iconic culinary meccas in the U.S., especially with a charitable tie-in.
How is it different than other cookbooks?
Before I committed to the project, I did some research and was surprised to find that there actually weren’t any other cookbooks featuring a collection of recipes from Napa Valley restaurants. Many Napa Valley chefs have their own cookbooks, but this is the first, at least in a while, to bring the whole region together.
Moreover; every recipe features a wine pairing from a Napa Valley producer selected by a local Master Somm and unlike many wine country cookbooks, we made sure these recipes could all be done by the average home cook. To ensure this, we tested every single recipe among a couple dozen volunteers and adjusted accordingly.
Give me a sneak peak. What are some notable recipes and pairings from the book?
Those who have visited will Napa will likely recognize some truly classic and iconic recipes, like the Bounty Hunter Beer Can Chicken, Mustards Might Meatloaf, Bistro Don Giovanni Salmon, Gott’s Ahi Burger, and Goose & Gander’s G&G Burger — one of my personal favorites.
Why did you decide to donate 100% of the book’s proceeds to charity?
100% of proceeds — not just profits — are being donated. I wanted this book to make a real impact, so I fundraised to cover our production costs and then several people and businesses donated their time, talent, and resources to make this project a reality.
Because I don’t have my own nonprofit, I needed a charity partner in order to legally and efficiently collect and distribute funds. That’s where Feed Napa Now came in. They’re a group of restaurateurs who started this group to feed their community in need during the pandemic. They are backed by the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley, who were happy to partner with us. and so we’re giving a portion of proceeds to help further Feed Napa Now’s efforts.
The book is available for pre-order now. When will it ship?
It will ship at the end of June or early July and all pre-orders will be notified when it’s time! We also have a free local pick-up option for Napa Valley locals at the Napa Valley Welcome Center.
Will it be available in both print and digital?
For now, just print in a hardcover, but if we sell out we may do an e-book version.
Where should people go if they want to pre-order the book?