BIRMINGHAM'S BEST BITES: FAVORITE RECIPES FROM RESTAURANTS, BARS, AND FOOD TRUCKS AROUND THE MAGIC CITY

Birmingham's Best Bites where to buy

Hey, that is my name on this book! I am the co-writer and the person who was just nuts enough to suggest we create a cookbook to help bring attention to and raise funds for special events and projects for the Birmingham Public Library. Thanks to a great many people, that little book has sold out twice and is now available in a hardback edition and can be purchased online and in bookstores around the State of Alabama! Holy cow!

I'm so privileged to have been part of the Birmingham's Best Bites cookbook project. It will be an ongoing fund-raising tool for the Birmingham Public Library's special events programs that are so vital to the community. Since I've acted as food ambassador for the State of Alabama, I also wanted to use the cookbook to bring attention to Birmingham's wonderful culinary scene and the talented, hard-working chefs who make it a delicious place to live.

I loved going to the library as a kid and spent many summer days going through the books on the shelves, looking for one to take home. I'd read most of them in one day and go back for more. I do believe that is where I got my passion for travel and adventure as I learned that the world was a lot bigger than the street I lived on through the books I read.

HOW IT STARTED: I got the idea for the book when Chanda Temple, my friend and co-writer, suggested I help with the library's annual Eat, Drink, Read, Write Festival. Over desserts and coffee late one afternoon at Chez Fonfon, I said maybe we should do a cookbook for the event and suddenly, we were. First, I asked Arden Ward Upton and Mo Davis of Arden Photography to come on board to take the images. No oneknows that Arden got her start as a tabletop photographer; she's one of the best there is. Her images are what make this book so special. The restaurants were excited to help us--some gave us prized favorite recipes and some crafted new recipes just for the book. All were beautifully plated for the  photography- each one shot specifically for this book. Friends Connie Blalock of the Birmingham Originals and Chef Chris Vizzina used their extensive contacts to help me reach out to restaurants and round up the recipes. I asked friends like Oxmoor House cookbook veteran Anne Cain to help me edit the recipes and Southern Progress Corporation's Grace McNair helped with the index editing.

Since there are so many local favorite places we still talk about that have closed, Chanda and I decided to use the wonderful resources from the archives department at the library to create a "Days Gone By" section with a bit of Birmingham's restaurant history and recipes from those local landmarks. I discovered lots of interesting facts during that research but the most exciting discovery was that my favorite New Orleans restaurant, Gallatoire's, started in Birmingham before moving down to the Crescent City. I'd really like to expand that section on the next version of the book.

A few short months later, we had a beautiful cookbook. Lisa Mitchell Smith helped me with the design for the book and did all of the layout. My good friend Jason Burnett, who has published lots of books through his position as Founding Editor of MyRecipes.com gave me guidance as I made the final decisions on the cover and how we would organize the categories. The editing seemed to be a never ending battle and Chanda asked Dr. Joyce Pettis to help us with it.

We reached out to local foodies and asked them for their restaurant recommendations which you'll find in the back of the book. There's also a "Where to Go, What to Do" section with suggestions for a day of fun between dining in the Magic City.

WHERE WE ARE NOW: After selling out two self-published versions through generous donations provided by EBSCO Media and Alagasco, the book has a new life and this time, in a gorgeous hardback version! Alabama Media Group has published our little book that could. You can now buy it locally at many different outlets including Alabama Booksmith, Barnes and Noble, or Books-a-Million booksellers and it is also available at Bromberg's in Mountain Brook, Norton's Florist, Lamb's Ear, Leaf and Petal at the Gardens, and at Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama. You can also now order on AMAZON.com for $27.95. The best part is that the proceeds from the book still benefit the library's special projects. That makes me very happy! I'm so appreciative to everyone who helped make this possible and to all of you who have supported me by purchasing a copy of the book. Thank you!!

Buy Birmingham's Best Bites now on Amazon.com