Cookbooks and Convos is all in its alliterative name: It's a month–long docket of events that took place in the last month and celebrated food writers, chefs, and so much more around dining tables across Philadelphia.
Each event differed in its programming, including opportunities to indulge in special tasting menus and beverage flights, meet–and–greet with renowned authors, and partake in engaging culinary discussions all at women–owned restaurants throughout different parts of Philadelphia.
The series was presented by Open Table and hosted by Philadelphia’s own Sisterly Love Collective, which aims to create a supportive and celebratory space for women in the area's food and hospitality industry. The idea was conceptualized by four of the organization’s co–chairs, each a leading lady in Philadelphia’s food scene: Ellen Yin, owner and co–founder of High Street Hospitality Group, Jennifer Carroll, founder of Carroll Couture Cuisine and Top Chef contestant, Sofia Deleon, owner of El Merkury, and Jill Weber, professional archaeologist and founder/owner of Sojourn Philly.
“You’re gonna be fat and really well–read by the end of this month,” said Carroll in an interview with NBC Philadelphia in September.
Cookbooks and Convos was inspired by The Book and The Cook, a celebrated food festival which took place annually from 1984 to 2007 in our very city and featured chefs, cookbook authors, and other culinary icons. Ticket prices for Cookbooks and Convos ranged from $65 to $125 and each included a cookbook from the event’s discussion.
The calendar of 25 plus events began on Sept. 23 at Jezabel’s, a modern Argentinian cafe in West Philadelphia. It featured Mariana Velásquez discussing her cookbook Colombiana: A Rediscovery of Recipes and Rituals from the Soul of Colombia alongside restaurateur Jezabel Careaga.
One sold–out event was hosted on Penn’s campus in Quaker Kitchen at Gutmann College House on Oct. 18. Executive chef of Quaker Kitchen Clara Park moderated a panel while guests sipped on beverages and enjoyed appetizers. The discussion took place between Klancy Miller, author of For the Culture: Phenomenal Black Women and Femmes in Food, chef Sarah Thompson of Philadelphia biscuit–lovers’ favorite Tall Poppy, and chef Cybille St. Aude–Tate of Honeysuckle Provisions, an Afro–Centric grocer and cafe in West Philadelphia.
The initiative held conversations through the end of October, with the final events taking place on Oct. 24 at Superfolie and Vedge. At Vedge, guests received a copy of Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s cookbook, Japan: The Vegetarian Cookbook and listened to her delve into its recipes and inspirations, all while enjoying a fixed menu created in collaboration with Vedge’s James Beard–nominated chef/owner husband–and–wife duo Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. At Superfolie, guests had the chance to sip on female–produced and poured wine and snacks while hearing from James Beard–nominated writer Ray Isle about his new book, The World in a Wineglass.
Paying homage to Philadelphia's history and hotspots, Cookbooks and Convos undoubtedly accomplished its mission. The month of programming cherished and celebrated food, cookbooks, and above all, the women powering the culinary industry.