In the fall of 2008 I was a a few months away from beginning the Baking and Pastry Arts program at George Brown, when my friend John told me his workplace was looking for some seasonal help. I was already working full time as an admin at Health Canada but I had been so interested in (and jealous of) John’s job at The Cookbook Store that I put together an application faster than I ever had in my life. Needless to say I got the seasonal gig but afterwards they couldn’t get rid of me; I didn’t say goodbye until mid-summer 2010. Even now I have ties to the store, occasionally helping out with some online work, volunteering at some of the bigger events, and last spring teaching a macaron making demonstration in the beautiful new Kitchen Studio space.
To this date working at the store has been my favourite job. I started at the store thinking it would be fun and give me access to great books - which it did. But what the store also gave me was a network of support, friends for a lifetime and so many experiences I would never trade for any dollar amount: An en eye-opening job shadow at Anna and Michael Olsen’s Olsen Foods at Ravine Winery; Assisting in a molecular gastronomy demonstration with the talented Chef John Placko; Access to amazing events with phenomenal chefs and writers like Ferran Adria, Gordon Ramsey, Thomas Keller and Ruth Reichl; The pleasure of meeting personal heroes like Elizabeth Baird, Nigella Lawson and most recently Deb Perelman of the blog Smitten Kitchen. (Many people still don’t believe me when I reveal I’ve met all these people!)
I was introduced to new foods, new authors, new restaurants and greater knowledge of how the food and publishing industries work. I’ve become devoted to certain cookbook authors I would not have even known about had I not been at the store. Life would be less delicious without the ladies from The Canal House and the boys from Ottolenghi, to name a few. I had the pleasure of REALLY becoming intimate with the world of Julia Child during the Julie & Julia phenomenon, and I was positioned in a place to realize the exciting shifts in food culture that has occurred over the past five years with the farm-to-table, artisanal and online food community movements taking the helm.
As for relationships - I am forever indebted to Alison and Jennifer, and my other friends from the store, for being an amazing emotional support for my family. In the spring of 2010 I realized that I was surprisingly “with child” (hilariously Jennifer and Alison had deduced this way before I told them - and perhaps before even I realized what was going on with me!). Needless to say it was a stressful time, capped off with my beautiful little girl arriving at 25 weeks gestation. The help I received from the store was, honestly, some of the most valuable I have ever received. Happily little Hannah is now a healthy, adorable and infuriatingly independent 2 year old - who loves baking and cooking with mommy and in her own play kitchen. I can’t wait to have her pick out her first cookbook - at The Cookbook Store, of course!
Cookbook Store employee 2008 - 2010
Gina Alderman is currently located in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON where her primary role is chasing after 2-year-old Hannah and Hannah’s dad, Jesse. On top of that craziness she wears a variety of hats as a social media consultant for small business, an independent consultant with Arbonne (http://www.facebook.com/ArbonnebyGinaAlderman) and a freelance baker. She continues to be an avid cookbook reader and collector (though some use the term “addict”).