Cherie Mercer Twohy – The I Love Trader Joe’s Party Cookbook

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

The I Love Trader Joe’s Party Cookbook: Delicious Recipes and Entertaining Ideas Using Only Foods and Drinks from the World’s Greatest Grocery Store (November 2010, Ulysses Press) features 28 party themed menus, ranging from Afternoon Tea to Tailgating. All ingredients are available at Trader Joe’s stores, which makes not only the party, but the shopping and prep fun! While the recipes are grouped around themes meant for celebrating, there are plenty of great family dinners in the book!

Tell us something about yourself.

I attended culinary school when I was 40. Having always loved cooking, I decided to get out there and learn the “hows and whys” of cooking. I knew I didn’t want to work in (or own) a restaurant, but wanted to see what other foodcentric opportunities might arise. Immediately upon graduation, I got a job in a cooking school, and found that I loved teaching people to cook. When that school went bankrupt, I dove in and opened my own. That was eleven years ago, and I still love it every day!

What inspired you to write this book?

We’ve done cooking classes based on Trader Joe’s ingredients since the cooking school opened. There is a great interest out there about the company, the great stuff they carry, and what to do with all of it. These classes have been among our most popular, and they are really fun to create recipes for. Because of the success of these classes, I was contacted by an editor at Ulysses about doing a book. (Every author’s dream–no proposal, no rejection letters!)

Do you have any writing rituals?

I literally write my cookbooks on the kitchen table. The laptop is front and center, with tons of post-its, ingredient labels and jars, and frequently a sample of something I’ve recently recipe-tested at my elbow. I’m steps from the stove, so I can tweak a recipe and record the results quickly.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I am a voracious consumer of all food-related books and magazines. I am constantly plowing through a teetering stack of these, and I especially adore food memoir. I’m practically sitting on my front step right now, waiting for Gabrielle Hamilton’s new book, Blood, Bones and Butter. I read an excerpt on a recent flight, and ordered it as soon as we landed.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Absolutely–thanks for asking! I’m working on an international flavors book for Ulysses, also based on Trader Joe’s products. They stock so many great products from all over the world–must be a fabulous job to be a buyer, right? I’m having great fun pulling together recipes from all over the world, using the ingredients available at TJ’s.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

I’m not a big advice-giver, but I do believe a good writer is a great reader. I think that being a ravenous reader makes me a clearer and more effective writer. I love when a writer has really found her voice, and so I try to get myself onto that page. It really delights me when someone tells me that they felt like they were in one of my classes, by reading my words describing a recipe.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Anyone who likes to have fun in the kitchen! Whether there is a TJ on your block, or you and the neighbors are conducting a write-in campaign to get one, the recipes are quick and tasty, and can be made with the ingredients specified, or with substitutes from other grocery or specialty stores.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

The I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook
The I Love Trader Joe’s Party Cookbook
The books are available at independent bookstores, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon and Urban Outfitters.