The new compendium of recipes make local dishes look so good you can TASTE them.
Carrie Fleck Walters and Susan Howson love cookbooks. Like, really love cookbooks.
“I think between us we probably have around 250 [of them],” said Howson, a freelance writer for several local publications (Disclosure: she’s also an RVANews contributor. RVANews is not involved with and does not profit from 804ork).
She and Walters (product designer and owner of Blunt Objects) began drawing upon their collective library of cookbooks for inspiration in late 2012, after friend and legal advisor Chris Gatewood approached them with the first project idea for the new division: a cookbook made up of recipes from local chefs and restaurants. That idea would become 804ork.
Howson anticipated at least a warm reaction to the cookbook because “It’s a nice way to get their name out and their cuisine out,” she said. “But I didn’t expect the response to be so overwhelmingly positive.” All told, 24 restaurants submitted the 68 recipes contained in 804ork.
Walters said that gathering the recipes took more time than anticipated. “We soon learned that communicating with chefs was ‘interesting’ because they don’t really do email or phone calls,” she said. “Their hours are crazy. You can’t really even catch them in person consistently, so they mostly work by text message, which is kind of challenging when you’re trying to get amounts of information out of them.”
The recipes were worth waiting for, as they came from a variety of chefs who contributed all sorts of dishes (entries, sauces, desserts, small plates) spanning various levels of difficulty.
A recipe Howson personally coveted was the Black Bean Nachos from Bellytimber. “If I don’t get the recipe for Bellytimber’s nachos, I’ll burst into tears,” she said at the project’s beginning. “Luckily, it is in there.”
Walters said one of the most enticing recipes in 804ork is Comfort‘s Pimento Cheese made by Chef Jason Alley. “Everytime I mention that to anyone, people are like, ‘You have the secret pimento cheese recipe?'” she said.
With recipes in hand, Howson, Kate Bredimus, and Chris Gatewood began writing 804ork. Walters began designing it.
Walters: “I’m a very visual person…so when I’m following recipes in books, if I don’t see the end result, or at least get some visual clue as to what I’m going for, I pretty much don’t like that recipe or won’t even pay attention to it,” she said. “My big goal [for 804ork] was to make sure we had a photo for every recipe in the book.” All photos in 804ork were taken by local photographers1 Christophile Konstas, Molly Peterson, and Kieran Wagner.
For Howson, she enjoys cookbooks that are more than just a collection of recipes. “I like cookbooks that have a lot of variety and a lot of other information to read about too.” As a result, 804ork profiles the chefs and restaurants featured in the book. “In that way, it can function also as a coffee table book if you just want to learn more about Richmond restaurants and not necessarily cook the meals,” Howson said.
Local food connoisseurs and writers also contributed to the book.2
804ork ($40) will be published as a limited run and is now available for online pre-order. Books will ship in late April ($5 flat rate shipping). The book will also be available for purchase at local retailers and at some of the restaurants featured in the book later this month.
Both Walters and Howson hope 804ork is a useful cookbook in any library. They also hope it makes people feel more connected to the city’s dining scene.
“We want people to get really excited about restaurants they haven’t tried yet, or maybe just think more about the restaurants that they go to all the time,” Howson said.
804ork is now available for pre-order.