Working at The Cookbook Store was like an oasis of calm after the chaos and heat of restaurant kitchens. I was downright excited to get up at the same time as my partner and go off to work when sidewalks were being swept and the city was getting moving. The orderly nature of the basic work balanced perfectly against ever-changing interactions with customers and trying to intuit just which book might work for them. I felt like I held so many books in my head in those days and loved being able to solve the puzzle of "I heard something on the radio about a muffin book?" Though Jennifer always amazed me with her ability to continue conversations with customers she hadn't seen in months or even years.
I have so many memories of my time there: endless wrong numbers (I think it was Interlog internet provider who had nearly the same phone number as us); staff excitement over the new good books and our adventures in using them - lots of samples to share; the quantity of Battenburg cakes that went into Alison's freezer (and after trying to make one once, I can see the appeal of the frozen!) when Marks & Spencer closed their Bloor Street storefront; conversations about the pros and cons of taking over the empty storefront to the south (if they had a kitchen would they have to sell coffee - considering Alison & Jennifer didn't even like the smell?); being on the phone with longtime customer, our honorary grandmother, Mrs Rice; the excitement of meeting Julia Child; the silliness of an Easy-bake-oven cook-off, and Alison's help in first connecting me with Lucy Waverman, and then tolerance of me juggling my work in the store with my newfound career path as a recipe tester.
I also remember the day a customer walked in with a baby and my eyes welled up with tears. My hormones were telling me something I didn't think I was ready to hear. I don't remember how much time elapsed between that incident and becoming pregnant myself. But I do remember how awful and tired I felt during that pregnancy; going upstairs to package books for mailing and finding myself sitting in the dusty sunny chair up there for "just a few minutes," and customer predictions over whether I would have a boy or girl. It was a natural extension for me to want to develop recipes that would work best for my growing family, which led, of course to writing a cookbook (Whining & Dinning with Emma Waverman) and my work at Today's Parent and Chatelaine today.
You never know where your career path is going to take you, but my time at The Cookbook Store left quite a mark, as I suspect it has on many others. Happy Anniversary to you - and here's to many more years to come!
Currently Food editor at Today's Parent and Assoc Food Editor at Chatelaine magazines. Also co-authored the cookbook Whining & Dining with Emma Waverman