January 5, 2015

The Yellow Table with Anna Watson Carl + Giveaway

The Yellow Table Cover

Earlier this fall I had the pleasure of meeting Anna Watson Carl at a potluck celebrating Dana Cowin’s new book. Anna and I hit is off immediately and I’ll admit I was secretly thrilled to finally meet the master behind the gorgeous blog The Yellow Table. I’ve been a longtime fan! When I met Anna she was in the process of wrapping up her first ever cookbook named after her blog. She chose to go the self-publishing route which I deeply admire. I love being a part of the Running Press family and can’t imagine doing all the work she did on my own (!!!) It is truly a labor of love and the result is gorgeous.  Her recipes are indeed simple and seasonal, and the gorgeous photographs by Signe Birck echo Anna’s commitment to easy, warm gatherings. Every scene looked so cozy and welcoming I wanted to jump right into the pages and join the party. To I am thrilled to share a little chat I had with Anna recently about her book and offer a chance to win a copy!:

The Yellow Table Soup

1.) Your book is so inspiring. It invites us all into your kitchen and you share the ways in which you connect with your family and friends through cooking. What is your favorite tip for entertaining that you give to novice entertainers?

Thank you 🙂 My biggest piece of advice is: Don’t try and do it all. I’m a big fan of making a one-pot main dish for a dinner party – lamb ragu with pappardelle, for example, or Tuscan white bean soup with Swiss chard – and letting everyone else contribute in some way, whether it’s bringing a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, dessert, or an appetizer. People love to feel like they’re contributing in some way, and it spreads the workload a bit! The main goal of the evening is to enjoy spending time with your guests, and if you’re exhausted and stressed, what’s the point?!

2) Your recipes are amazing! How did you decide on such a diverse array? It is a great balance and it must have been tough to edit them down. What are your faves? (I know, that is a hard question, it is like picking your favorite child!)

These are essentially my go-to personal favorites. It essentially reflects how I like to eat: fresh, seasonal ingredients, lots of vegetables, grains, herbs, garlic olive oil, and small quantities of humanely-raised meats and wild fish. I do love dessert, though I prefer for them not to be super-sweet. It’s tough to pick favorites, but here are a few: Pumpkin-Spice Pancakes, Tuna-Avocado Poke Lettuce Wraps, Warm Goat Cheese Salad, Roasted Winter Squash with Kale & Pomegranate Seeds, Sprouted Lentil Soup with Kale, Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri, Pea-Fava Puree with Seared Halibut, Sausage Ragu with Parmesan Polenta, Kahlua Buttescotch Puddings with Spicy Pecans – oh, and the Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumbles are delicious! See, it’s hard to choose!!

3) Your self-publishing journey looked like quite an adventure. What were some of your favorite parts of the process? Your least favorite?

Yes it was an adventure, for sure!! I LOVED the process of shooting the book with my photographer (and good friend) Signe Birck. It was so creatively fulfilling, getting to do the food and prop styling for the shoots. We worked really well as a team, and had so much fun working together. It was challenging, as well, because we shot everything in my sixth-floor walkup apartment, so every week there was loads of physical labor, lugging groceries and props up all of the stairs. And then piles and piles of dishes after every shoot!

I also loved seeing a dream become a reality. I had dreamed of writing a cookbook for years and years, so as I saw the project become a reality, little by little, it was incredibly rewarding.

The hardest part – aside from the moments of discouragement and doubt that plagued me along the way – was definitely handling the distribution of 3000 books. We had nearly 2000 pre-sale orders that I had to ship out myself, and the remaining books I sold via events, Amazon, and in bookstores – all of which I had to coordinate myself. I’m not great with logistics, so the process was a bit of a nightmare. Far harder than writing the book!!!


The Yellow Table Cookbook

4) I love your amazing photographs and styling. Tell us a little bit about the team you rounded up for the book.

I was SO fortunate to work with an amazing team. I already mentioned my incredible food photographer, Signe Birck, but I also worked with two other really talented photographer friends of mine: Eric Ryan Anderson shot several dinner party scenes, as well as portraits of the cookbook team, and Nate Poekert, took several shots of me – in my kitchen, as well as in my neighborhood. I had an incredible designer, Katie King Rumford, who not only designed the book, but who also created illustrations for every chapter, as well as for the wine pairings. The Yellow Table logo was designed by the amazing Dana Tanamachi. My editor Lauren Salkeld was an absolute saint: she was SO organized (unlike me!) and whipped my recipes and text into tip-top shape on a really tight deadline. She also oversaw all of my recipe-testing, which was a godsend. I had the privilege of working with sommelier Jean-Luc Le Du on this book –he created under-$25 wine pairings for many of the recipes. His pairings are one of my favorite aspect of the book! My amazing husband Brandon was an incredible part of the team: he was my chief advisor, and my biggest supporter during a very intense year. And finally, I had a wonderful intern, Elise Inman, who helped me do everything from recipe-test to photo shoot prep to accompanying me on my Kickstarter road trip.

5) What’s next for The Yellow Table? I am hoping for another book! 🙂

I would love that! We are totally sold out of the first print run, so the next big decision is when and how many books to reprint. I would love to either partner with a publisher for the second printing, or at least get some partnerships with some big stores (like Anthropology, West Elm, Williams Sonoma, etc) before we foot the bill for another printing. So first wider distribution, and then absolutely – I’d love to do another book.

But first: vacation! I am seriously exhausted, so I’m heading to Italy for the month of January for a little R&R and cooking inspiration. Stay tuned: I’ll be blogging about the trip 🙂

To enter to win a copy of The Yellow Table: A Celebration of Everyday Gatherings:

1) Leave a comment sharing a favorite memory of a gathering you’ve hosted around your family table.

2) Subscribe to Kelsey Banfield on Facebook. Subscribe to The Yellow Table on Facebook.

3) Contest runs from December 19th through December 26th and the winner will be announced in the December 26th newsletter. Good luck!

All photographs above courtesy of Anna Watson Carl and Signe Birck. Reprinted with permission.