Today on Facebook, there was a lively discussion from the non-famous, hard working food community. They were asking why celebrities write cookbooks? This discussion came about because there is a celebrity cookbook coming out this April by a beautiful TV star. She's prettier than any pastry. I love her ruffled apron.
Whyyyyyy, chefs and cookbook authors ask, would an actress with a thriving career want to write a cookbook? Why would the publisher want to publish it? Why would the public buy a book that is obviously written by someone else and usually says it right in the credits or on the acknowledgment page (if any reader really looks)?
Why oh Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, why?
My chef friends are sincere yet naïve because most true food professionals know nothing but food, and they live to cook. They spend their days cooking, reading cookbooks, studying techniques, and daydreaming about food. Food is the thread they weave in the tapestry of their lives, their families, and their memories.
Food is how we define our culture. Food and the land we grow it on is why we fight wars. Food is how we raise and nurture our young. Food is how we pay our mortgages. Food is the reason we carry on. I'm not saying it's smart, I'm saying that for many of us it's the driving force of why we get out of bed every morning.
I can sum up the answer to all their questions in one answer. MONEY. Maybe I should say LOTS OF MONEY. I'm saying it softly, thinking it won't hurt as much.
Really, they don't know celebrities write books for the money?
Naiveté is cute.... but it can easily border on stupid.
I've worked with many celebrities that write cookbooks. Some are very sincere, some are skanks, some are desperate for the attention, and some want to transition out of what they are doing and broaden their platform. Some just get too old to play the ingénue and don't have the talent to become a character actor. Next career, please.
My experience has taught me that when somebody is too old sell the jiggle, they sell the Jell-O.
Food is hot right now, and cookbooks are a status symbol. Who wouldn't want to pen one?
I'd say the hope is that if the celebrity cookbook sells really well, the celebrity might get a talk show or cooking show, a furniture line, or truly hit the big time and create a house wares line on HSN. Lord, that's the Promised Land. Their manager or agent will be licking their lips thinking about the percentages. Pots and pans, please buy my pots and pans.
The hope for any publishing company is that they can stay in business. And a talented editor in the back office just discovered the sweetest little book from an unknown author, and with the money from the celebrity book sales, just maybe she can get the publishing house to support this precious gem of inspirational writing.
The reader of the celeb book, for a few hours, is transported. They are talking to the celebrity and cooking with them. Their nasty little kitchen, screaming kids, and smelly garbage is gone. They too can weigh ninety-five pounds with perfect skin if they the eat the pretty actresses Easy Morning Granola. They are living the celebrity dream.
Is any of that so bad?
Denise Vivaldo is the author of seven cookbooks and has contributed to fifty others, most of them by celebrities. She's grateful for the work.