Behind the scenes of Florentine

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It’s officially out! We launched Florentine last week and the cookbook has started arriving on shelves. It’s finally out there.

Now that it is, and this huge project, which began two years ago, is out there for everyone to see, I feel the urge to talk about the wonderful people who I worked with to make it what it is, because it is very much a collaborative project — from the publishing team, to the designer who created the beautiful marbling on the book’s cover, to the recipe testers who responded to my blog call out, to my friends and family who I forced to eat Florentine food for months on end, to my husband Marco’s advice and support, to my sister Hana who flew with me to Florence to take care of my then nearly-two-year-old while I took photographs for the cookbook, I had help. I did not do this by myself, and thank goodness for that.

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Sitting here with the book in my hand today, I’d say, in a flash, that my favourite part of making this cookbook was the photo shoot for the recipe shots. It was the part where I got to collaborate with some really incredible professionals, where together we made the images that accompany the recipes in a light-filled studio in Melbourne with a slightly wonky, temperamental oven.

I had to choose whether I wanted to cook the dishes that appear in the book, take the photographs or style the food. But to be honest, I feel much more comfortable in the kitchen and I wanted to make sure the dishes looked the way they should look, like they’ve just come out of a Florentine kitchen. So wonderful Lauren Bamford, whose work I had long admired, came on board to take the photographs and exquisite Deb Kaloper with all her gorgeous props came in style the food in her effortless, natural way.

In the kitchen with me was Caroline Griffiths, the most incredible behind the scenes woman there ever was – she did all the food shopping and all the organising for what we cooked on which day and basically made sure the whole thing went smoothly. Jemima Good also volunteered to cheerfully stir polenta and wash dishes, and my husband Marco jumped in to help grill meat, tie pork roast and entertain our then two year old, who was dragged along to the studio and often took her naps on the couch in the studio while all this was happening.

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We were so busy that we didn’t have time to take proper breaks, but luckily, there was no lack of food (thank goodness for completely natural food styling! No fake gelato here, just the exact gelato or sorbet recipe in the book that my daughter helped herself to before, during and after the shot!).

After we knew we had gotten ‘the shot’, we all dove in to taste the dishes – and since for each photograph, we cooked the exact recipe, which was often to serve four or make 20 cornetti, it meant we also all went home with plenty of food to feed loved ones. It was an incredibly inspiring week for me and I still cannot help but feel so blessed to have worked with the team I did.

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There’s a wonderful thing that Diana Henry wrote about the best bit of making a cookbook, which is just spot on. It also explains why my book’s acknowledgments page is so very, very long!

“Apart from having a book at the end of it all, something you can actually hold and read and cook from, it’s the creativity that you share with other people. I’m amazed by how much people care about their work. It really moves me. When I worked in television everyone’s name was on the credits. The producer’s is usually last but every single person gets a mention. It never seems fair that only the name of the author is on the front of a book. A book is never just written. It is made.”

Hear more about the making of the book and the recipe testers that made all the difference here at Food52.

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Comments

19 Responses to “Behind the scenes of Florentine”
  1. As you know my copy of your book just arrived and it looks just gorgeous! Great to see a behind the scenes and I love that photo of Mariu sleeping! I often wish I had a team to do my book, it was a lonely ride, even though at the end of the day I had full creative control, it’s nice to have people who are there to support you and take care of things like food shopping, schedule etc. etc. You can ask friends, but it’s not the same thing I find. Diana Henry is so spot on and I’ve read that paragraph of hers over and over again the past two years. x

    • Emiko Davies says:

      That’s the thing, for me it was that collaboration that I so enjoyed after the lonely manuscript writing! And in the end I feel I did still have control over what every final shot looked like, it was just this wonderful team work with an incredible group of talented women to get there! I’ve read that article over and over again too! :)

  2. Juls says:

    I am so happy to see you are finally there, holding your book and celebrating!
    As for Regula, mine is a lonely journey as well, complete control but you also would feel the urge to have someone there for you! Likely Tommaso, as Bruno was for Regula, is a great supporter.
    Can’t wait to see your book! x

    • Emiko Davies says:

      You gals are lucky to have them for support too – Marco was incredible as well, jumping into the kitchen to help grill rosticciana and tagliata di manzo (oh and the fegatelli), oh let’s face it, he pretty much cooked most of the Macellaio chapter! I feel so lucky to have had that team work with so many talented people – I learned so much that week! x

  3. janie says:

    Congratulations to you! I can’t wait to have a copy in my hands. I know it will be a big hit.

  4. Frank says:

    Congratulations! It must be a wonderful feeling to have a two-year project come to fruition. I see it’s already on iBooks and available for pre-order on Kindle. :-)

  5. Jasmina says:

    Hi Emiko,

    congratulation on your new book! I am sure it is marvellous and I am looking forward to buy a copy for myself.
    Jx
    ps: now THAT is one beautiful Zuccotto :-)

  6. Adelina Marghidan says:

    Dear Emiko, I am so happy your book is out, I am looking forward to see it, read it and cook your recipes. You were the first person to whom I tested recipes, it was during Christmas of 2014. After you, I tested a recipe for Regula, whose book I will also order very soon. Amazing how different people in the world come totheger. I hope you visit Amsterdam one day to have your book signed and to meet you in person. Best of luck. Adelina

  7. Caroline Griffiths says:

    Dear Emiko
    What a beautiful article – I am sorry it has taken me so long to get to it. You are a true inspiration. I learnt an enormous amount from you and the team that week too. Your book is amazing and I look forward to returning to it again and again in the years ahead.
    Caroline x

  8. Wendy says:

    Thank you Emiko,
    I wanted to express my gratitude for all the joy that your blog has given me, so I went down to my local bookstore today and bought two copies of your cookbook. One for myself and one for my daughter.
    I love it…the recipes, the photographs, the historical notes, the cover! I must tell you that I have a library of cookbooks that I have collected over 40 years and I think Florentine is the most beautiful. I am looking forward to giving it to my daughter and hope it will help her to remember our visit to Florence last year.
    My husband is Swiss Italian (Ascona, Ticino) and his mother passed away soon after we married. Like any Italian son he was heartboken and spoke longingly of his Mamma’s cooking. I had to learn on my own to make his favourite dishes but the simple, rustic food and flavours he craved could not be found in cookbooks. This is how I stumbled upon your blog.
    Thank you again for your blog and your cookbook. I wish you much success and hope that if you ever find yourself in my town, Vancouver, Canada, you will remember that you have “famiglia” here.
    Ciao, Wendy

    • Emiko Davies says:

      Dear Wendy, thank you so very much for your beautiful message — I feel absolutely honoured to have my book now in the hands of you and your daughter and that hopefully it will keep carrying on the tradition of good, home cooked Italian food in your family! Thank you. x

  9. Sophie says:

    Congratulations on the book! I’m now just back in Australia and looking forward to seeing it on the shelves soon… x

  10. Katharina says:

    Emiko,
    I just received your book and I have to tell you that I absolutely love it! It’s wonderfully written, the photos, layout and colour are brilliant and it just makes me happy looking at it!
    I own a tiny little trattoria in the south of France (My partner and I are actually going to open it soon). I want to thank you so much for your beautiful blog because it actually made me secretly dream of opening my very own little trattoria! I found your blog by chance one day because I was looking for a recipe for “Marmellata di limoni” and I fell in love with the pictures, the stories, and your positivity.
    Thank you so much Emiko and please keep doing what you are doing!
    Katharina
    xxx

    • Emiko Davies says:

      Katharina, Thank you so much for this beautiful message! It really makes me so happy to hear that my blog inspired you to open your dream trattoria! How amazing! Thank you again for following along and I hope I can one day visit! xxx

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