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Books for Cooks: a Little Paradise for Cookbook Lovers

In the past five years, as I have started experimenting in the kitchen, I have developed a real passion for cookbooks: from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s best-sellers to more obscure grimoires like “the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook” (a lost manuscript in Yiddish from 1938, which miraculously resurfaced in 1995 in an antiquarian bookfair in England). So you can imagine how delighted I was to discover the existence of a London bookshop entirely dedicated to cookbooks. A few weeks ago, I decided to write a short article for the French Magazine Ici Londres on the topic. I arranged an interview with the owner of Books for Cooks, Eric Treuille, who happens to be French. And off I went to Notting Hill. IMG_0689Once you have arrived on Blenheim Crescent, it’s hard to miss this cute little red shop. As I pushed the door open, I was immediately greeted by the comforting smell of home-made soup. In addition to its 8000 cookbook collection, Books for Cooks also has its own restaurant and coffee shop, at the back of the store. “We pick different recipes from our books every day and we try them in our own kitchen. This way, the menu is different every day” explains Eric Treuille, who is not only a cookbook lover and author, but also a professional chef, who has cooked in Paris, New York and California. “Today, for lunch, we are offering a chicken and ham pie, and for dessert, you can choose between a rhubarb and ginger crumble, a blueberry lemon cake, a flourless chocolat cake or a plumb caramel cake”. IMG_0685The owner who is originally from Cahors, also serves a biodynamic wine from his very own vineyard (during the year, he splits his time between the South of France and London).  “It’s the only wine we serve here ! Everything here is very simple and convivial. Our goal is certainly not to give ourselves a headache with complicated menus and wine lists”, he adds, with a typically French shoulder shrug. IMG_0683The bookstore itself, with its thousands and thousands of cookbooks from all around the world and its specialized foodbooks, offers more choice to its hungry customers. From the art of coffee making to Indonesian cooking, from recipes for children (like Alain Ducasse’s Cooking for Kids) to bread making and techniques of fermentation… “Right now, we sell a lot of books about healthy food. It’s a major trend” Eric Treuille says. IMG_0667Being a specialized bookstore can often be a challenge. But the recent food boom and the popularity of celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Jaime Oliver and Clare Smyth, has been a real blessing for the bookstore. IMG_0673The story behind the shop is quite romantic. Before taking over the shop in 1992, Eric Treuille was originally a customer at Books for Cooks. That is where he actually met his British wife, Rosie Kindersley, who is now the co-owner of the store, along with Treuille. “She used to work there and I very often came to the store to see her” he recalls.  The owner and founder of the bookstore, Heidi Lascelles, eventually offered Eric Treuille a job. The Franco-British couple later got married. They took over the shop 14 years ago. And are still going strong. IMG_0695Books for Cooks, 4 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 1NN. Phone:020 7221 1992
Open everyday (except on sunday and monday), from 10 am to 6 pm.
To find out about their daily menu: twitter.com/Booksforcooks

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