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How digital age changes future of cookbooks

May 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
I traveled to San Francisco recently to meet with the International Association of Culinary Professionals to find out the latest in the food world.

Chefs, authors, bloggers and restaurant owners got together to talk trends and the future of cookbooks in this digital age.

Cookbook author Anne Willan talked about "The Cookbook Library," her latest work that chronicles the history of cookbooks.

"It starts with the first printed cookbook and runs through to the beginning of the 19th century," said Willan.

This historical take on recipe books is poignant as today's meal maker has so many avenues to turn to. That begs the question, is the cookbook dead?

Denise Vivaldo who has written eight cookbooks, points out they're the history of our culture and civilization.

"People still want their cookbooks, and many people, in a hardcover," said Vivaldo.

However, that's not to say new electronic efforts aren't working. Chefs are onboard.

"If you want to be a leader in your industry, you need to know what's going on, you want to lead the parade," said Vivaldo.

Even Martin Yan of the show "Yan Can Cook" embraces high-tech tools.

"You use the website, you use online, you can reach a lot more people," said Yan. "When you use digital, use the multimedia, use the social media, you can reach millions and millions of people."

But Willan, who owned a cooking school in Paris and worked with Julia Childs, cautions that people need to be careful on the Web.

"It's no good just pressing or entering coq au vin and you get 200 recipes and only a quarter of them will really be authentic," said Willan.

There can also be errors and lots of twists that don't work. But Real Simple Magazine's Sarah Copeland says the digital form of the magazine takes a whole different twist than the hard copy.

"Our online user is definitely going there for recipes, she's really engaged, she might be commenting, she wants information fast," said Copeland. "We have a couple of great 'Real Simple' apps and we're working on a new one. They just want information in such a fast, clean way, and luckily, we're set up well to do that."

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