Another honour for Grub Street

Liz Thomson
News - Prizes 17 Aug 2009

Grub Street was among five UK publishers who won Best in the World Awards at the annual Gourmand awards for cookbooks, held recently in Paris. The indie house won Best Cookbook Translation for the The Complete Robuchon by Joel Robuchon, beating 30 countries competing in the category.



The Robuchon bible was described as a masterpiece in translation and the great chef is said now to prefer the English edition to the French original. Grub Street's Anne Dolamore, who took on The Complete Robuchon, told BookBrunch: 'I imagine we were the last to be offered it - after all, Knopf published it in the States.' No doubt the task of translating such a vast book from the French original was daunting, so too the prospect of publishing a cookery title that contains not a single photo, a stricture which doubtless deterred many would-be publishers. (The Japanese publisher commissioned photos, but Robuchon forbade their use.) So Dolamore bought it at something less than a Michelin three-star price and set to work. 'It occupied every one of my waking hours for six months, but it was worth every moment.'
Indeed, the handsome 600-page volume, its granite-coloured cover with the snail motif reflecting the chef's restaurant colours, has sold more than 10,000 copies at £25 since publication last autumn, and Grub Street has just taken delivery of a reprint.
The Gourmand award is the latest in a series of prestigious accolades for the independent, which was founded in 1982 and has consistently punched above its weight. Among Grub Street's honours are that of International Publisher of the Year at the World Cookbook Awards in 2000, as well as the Glenfiddich Award for Best Cookery Writer (Elizabeth Louard) and the coveted Glenfiddich Trophy in 2007. An author and food journalist, past Chair of the Guild of Food Writers, and a trustee of Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, Dolamore eschews photo-filled gastro-porn and her discerning eye has enabled her to spot reissue possibilities which mainstream publishers, obsessed with the new, fail to notice. Among Grub Street's revived golden oldies are Marguerite Patten and Constance Spry. And where many publishers reheat brand-name authors till well past their sell-by dates, with new titles for this or that occasion, or around yet another theme, she has always recognised that many cookery writers have just one important book in them. All but a tiny handful of cookery titles published by Grub Street remain in print.
Other Gourmand winners were The Big Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury), Best Book Printing and Production in the World; A Day at El Bulli, Ferr n Adri , Juli Soler and Albert Adri , with photography by Maribel Ruiz de Erenchun (Phaidon), Best Book Printing and Production in the World; The Big Book of Baking Photos, Clive Streeter (Parragon), Best Bread and Baking Book in the World; and Mix , James McIntosh (Word 4 Word), Best Series of Food Books in the World.
Photo: Anne Dolamore receives the Best in the World Award from Edward Cointreau, Gourmand supremo

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