April Events at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

April events and one last hurrah for March!

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** April Events at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

(And one last hurrah for March) http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/3/31/spice-market-comes-to-books-to-cooks

** Spice Market Tasting Menu

** Monday, March 31, 6:30 p.m.

Spice Market's executive chef, Anthony Ricco is travelling from New York to kick off a new Spice Market menu at MARKET by Jean-Georges here in Vancouver. This evening in our shop, he will join forces with Montgomery Lau, Chef de Cuisine at MARKET by Jean-Georges.

For more information, click here (http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/3/31/spice-market-comes-to-books-to-cooks) .


** A Chocolate Tasting Party

** Tuesday, April 1,

6:30 p.m.

Tonight we welcome local writer Eagranie Yuh (of The Well-Tempered Chocolatier (http://thewelltemperedchocolatier.com/blog/) ) into the shop to celebrate her first book: The Chocolate Tasting Kit. Eagranie will teach us all about chocolate and guide us in a tasting.

For more information, click here (http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/4/1/a-chocolate-tasting-party) . http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/4/17/bill-jones-cbc-north-by-northwest-cooking-club

** Bill Jones CBC Radio Taping

** Thursday, April 17,

4 p.m.

Bill Jones of Deerholme Farm (http://www.deerholme.com/) is in shop today to tape an interview about his new book, The Deerholme Foraging Book, with Sheryl MacKay from CBC's North by Northwest Cooking Club. Bill is an expert on foraging in the Pacific Northwest.

For more information, click here (http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/4/17/bill-jones-cbc-north-by-northwest-cooking-club) .


** A Chocolate Lunch

** Saturday, April 5,

1 p.m.

Join us for a sumptuous chocolate lunch, cooked from The Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook by local chocolatier and owner of Chocolate Arts (http://www.chocolatearts.com/) , Greg Hook will join us today to teach us all about chocolate.

For more information, click here (http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/1/18/a-chocolate-lunch) . http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/4/27/calling-all-architects-who-love-to-do-lunch

** Lunch at the Shop

** Sunday, April 27, 11:30 a.m.

Today Peter Miller of Peter Miller Books (http://www.petermiller.com/) in Seattle is joining us for lunch to celebrate his new book: Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal.

For more information, click here (http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/4/27/calling-all-architects-who-love-to-do-lunch) . http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/4/9/thai-one-on-with-whisky

** "Thai" One on with Whisky

** Wednesday, April 9, 6:30 p.m.

We are thrilled to present an evening to take us beyond "standard" food and drink pairings.

Chef Angus An of Maenam Restaurant (http://www.maenam.ca/intro.html) will cook a delicious Thai dinner paired with Scottish whisky. Brand educator, J. Wheelock from Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants in Calgary will guide us.

For more information, click here (http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/4/9/thai-one-on-with-whisky) . http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/5/1/go-barley-modern-recipes-for-an-ancient-grain-book-launch

** Go Barley Around the Clock

** Wednesday, April 30, 6:30 p.m.

Authors Linda Whitworth and Pat Inglis will join us for dinner this evening to teach from their new book, Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain, about the health benefits of barley and how we can incorporate it into our diets around the clock.

For more information, click here (http://www.bookstocooks.com/events/2014/5/1/go-barley-modern-recipes-for-an-ancient-grain-book-launch) .

Copyright © 2014 Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks, All rights reserved. We periodically send our customers book and event related information. We consider our mailing list confidential, and do not share it with others.

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From Fred UnLEEshed: March 14, 2014

Barbara Jo welcomed a capacity crowd who shelled out $700 to hear from and meet culinary icon Ferran Adrià, of elBulli, widely regarded as the world’s best restaurant until its closure in 2011.

Barbara Jo welcomed a capacity crowd who shelled out $700 to hear from and meet culinary icon Ferran Adrià, of elBulli, widely regarded as the world’s best restaurant until its closure in 2011.

This was originally posted here in the Vancouver Courier.

Revisiting some of the media from our Ferran Adria events

Vancouver chefs plan for Ferran Adria's visit

Martha Perkins 
February 18, 2014 09:00 PM

From left: Frank Pabst, Scott Jaegar, Barbara-Jo McIntosh, Vikram Vij, Sean Cousins, Angus An and Thomas Haas are working together to create a memorable Vancouver welcome for Ferran Adria. Absent from photo is Hidekazu Tojo. — Image credit: Martha Perkins

From left: Frank Pabst, Scott Jaegar, Barbara-Jo McIntosh, Vikram Vij, Sean Cousins, Angus An and Thomas Haas are working together to create a memorable Vancouver welcome for Ferran Adria. Absent from photo is Hidekazu Tojo. — Image credit: Martha Perkins


Ferran Adria has been called a genius, the worlds most creative chef, a man who changed gastronomic history.

So what do you feed him when he comes to Vancouver?

Thats the daunting yet exciting task of Barbara-Jo McIntosh, who is organizing Adrias one-night stay in Vancouver on March 8. Shes enlisted the help of seven of Vancouvers most accomplished chefs and the Vancouver Club to pull it off.

On February 17, she gathered Frank Pabst (Blue Water Café), Thomas Haas (Thomas Haas Chocolates), Vikram Vij (Vijs), Hidekazu Tojo (Tojos), Scott Jaegar (The Pear Tree), Angus An (Maenam) and Sean Cousins (Vancouver Club) to plan the menu.

Since Adria, who closed his three-star Michelin restaurant, elBulli, in 2011 so he could concentrate on training other chefs, has said he prefers that chefs not use his recipes, the chefs have been given free rein.

Show off Vancouver to him what we do and do well, McIntosh said.

Surprisingly, there was relatively little talk about the food at the meeting. The chefs divvied what proteins theyd use but did not get into the specifics; that magic will happen back in their own kitchens.

I expect Ferran to blow everyone away, says McIntosh, the owner of Books to Cooks on 2nd Avenue, says of the pioneering master of molecular gastronomy. Hes driven by a desire to show the world what, in his mad scientist mind, he has created.

The Vancouver Club event is in three parts: a Cava reception, Adrias presentation and a Lavish after-party. Tickets to the after-party are sold out (tickets were $1,000) but there are still some left for the Cava reception and Adrias presentation. They are $700 each (or $800 for a pair) and include a seven-volume set of Adrias books, including elBulli 2005-2011: A Journey Inside the Creative Process of the Worlds Greatest Chef.You can also order the book set for $625. Details at BooksToCooks.com.

Copyright 2014

The original article was posted here on February 18, 2014.-

Malcolm Parry's Coverage of our Ferran Adria events in The Vancouver Sun's Town Talk, March 14, 2014

TWAIN IN SPAIN: Books To Cooks owner Barbara-Jo McIntosh likely felt like doing handsprings down a Vancouver Club staircase clogged with folk waiting for Spanish superchef Ferran Adria to sign his seven-volume elBulli: 2005-2011. The $700 that each had paid included an interpreter relaying Adria’s account of the transformative cooking style he’d developed at his restaurant on the Mediterranean Costa Brava. In a Spanish-speaking tete-a-tete later, Joytv interviewer Carmen Ruiz y Laza learned that, si, Adria’s culinary revolution did include pulpo negro, the dish of octopus in its own ink revered in her native Cantabria on the Atlantic shoreline.

The original posting can be found on The Vancouver Sun's website, here.

March 5 Ferran Adria Article in Vancouver Sun

ElBulli’s Ferran Adria takes Vancouver


One of the two events is sold out at $1,000 a ticket, so revered is the Spanish culinary supernova.



MARCH 5, 2014


“In my early days," says Ferran Adria, "I copied the great French chefs, like most chefs do. Copying is not bad. Copying and not recognizing that you are copying is bad. For me, when I go to a restaurant and am served a dish influenced by something we created at elBulli, if it’s well done, it makes me extremely happy.


Cezanne once said to the critics who dissed his radical new way of painting, “With an apple, I will astonish Paris!” Eventually, the critics and the world came to heel and revere his works.

Ferran Adria, the rocking-est star of world chefs, doesn’t astonish with just an apple, he astonishes with nearly every ingredient he touches and that is why his restaurant elBulli, near Barcelona, became an international sensation.

Call him an idiot-savant of cooking who cannot abide the rules of gastronomy; he is lawless when it comes to culinary traditions and has revolutionized cooking like Cezanne and Picasso did with painting. Not many dispute that Adria is a culinary revolutionary although he’s had detractors claiming his food is unhealthy, pretentious, too challenging to eat (yes, the dishes sometimes come with instructions on how to eat — one bite, two bites, first this, then that….) or encourages Ferran Frankensteins, unskilled in conducting a symphony of an elBulli meal.

But many of the restaurants at the top of the game internationally and at the forefront of coveted “Top 50” awards each year are run by elBulli alumni — restaurants such as Noma (Denmark), Mugaritz (Spain), Alinea (U.S.) and Fat Duck (England).

The normally too-cool-to-gush Anthony Bourdain, gushes: “When I ate the food, I felt fear, delight, confusion, real joy. The world changed. For a chef, it was like Eric Clapton coming out of hearing Jimi Hendrix for the first time.”

And for Wolfgang Puck, elBulli food conjured Rip Van Winkle: “I think it was as if you hadn’t seen New York City for 200 years and then you saw it today. It was different from anything I could imagine.”

When the world finally recognized the amazing feats of cookery going on at elBulli, Adria became a culinary supernova. Diners, journalists, cooks and chefs begged to work for free and beat a path to his door (not an easy traverse along a narrow, dangerous road to the Costa Brava coast).

By the time he decided to close elBulli in 2011 (to gasps and grief), well, the numbers said it all: Two million people sought reservations for 8,000 seats during the six months each year the restaurant was open. (During the other six months, staff were in a mad-scientist huddle in a Barcelona atelier, developing new ideas for dishes.) Guests travelled an average of seven to 20,000 kilometres to have dinner at elBulli. The tasting menu, with more than 30 items, was different every day and cost about $380 a person. Adria spent a quarter of his time doing interviews — 1,000-plus in a year along with countless appearances at world culinary events.

Adria has written other volumes of books documenting his recipes with photographs and their stories. The latest is elBulli, 2005 to 2011, a seven-volume magnum opus weighing 40 pounds, covering 2,720 pages which was released March 3. The cost: $625.

And that is the reason for his visit to Vancouver Saturday on the first stop of his North American book tour. Organizer Barbara-jo McIntosh, of Books To Cooks, says in the 17 years she has been bringing in chefs, including many three-Michelin-star gods of the kitchen, he is the most revered.

“There are a lot of accomplished people I admire but nobody has taken their craft to the level of science and art that he has. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to meet someone like this. There aren’t a lot who would not find it exciting.”

Adria, 52, will be in Vancouver for two events at The Vancouver Club, a lecture and cava reception at 2 p.m. ($700, including the new seven-volume publication; for tickets, go to bookstocooks.com/events) and the Afterparty with Ferran Adria at 4 p.m., with seven local chefs cooking for the event ($1,000). The latter was sold out at press time. One chef, McIntosh says, felt it was worth $1,000 to have his photo taken with Adria.

In an email interview with The Vancouver Sun, Adria spoke openly about himself and his food. Since elBulli closed, he’s been working on the elBulli Foundation, “conceptualizing and shaping” projects which will be like a creative think-tank and educational arena for avant garde cuisine for chefs and other culinary professionals.

“What I am most proud of, is that today, I see that the values and spirit of what grew in the kitchen at elBulli are present in so many kitchens and places around the world today.” Some of the techniques that have been adopted in other modern kitchens are spherification (you might have seen this as “pearls” or “caviar” on menus), foams, airs, deconstructions, ice powders, liquid nitrogen to freeze items on a plate, and commercial food additives like xantham gum, agar and calcium alginate to manipulate food.

The spherification process came out of a visit to a canning factory. He noticed the effect of calcium alginate on a tomato sauce, creating a glossy little pearl which formed into a solid gel. He refined and tweaked the “pearl” until it became more like a tiny egg yolk with a thin membrane holding a gush of flavourful liquid inside.

The dishes that flowed from the elBulli kitchen included: popcorn cloud, melon caviar, a dry martini to spray into the mouth from a Comme des Garcons-like perfume bottle, a “golden egg” in which a raw quail’s egg is wrapped in a thin coating of crisp caramel (blowtorched onto the yolk).

The dish he was most proud of was the “stew in textures (menestra en textures).” The ingredients, separated out, were a mix of textures and temperatures.

“Deconstruction became a style that has subsequently identified us (although we never used it to excess) and has had a major impact in the culinary world, a very creative method used by other professionals.” Check. It’s used a lot and, might I add, a lot don’t have the skill to create a seamless harmony between elements.

“elBulli,” he says, “was not a restaurant but a place where the goal was to excite diners using culinary creativity. The main rule for any dish was to be creative.”

He’s inspired by travel and he considers Japan and Peru as the most fertile cooking cultures for his imagination.

“In both countries, the kitchen is revered. It’s a cultural fact that there is a passionate love (for food and cooking) in these countries,” he says.

Asked why he’s so willing to share his discoveries, inventions and methods (the recent volumes as well as a previous publications covering earlier years record his recipes, ideas, organizational systems and philosophy), he says it’s his duty.

“Like all disciplines where information is shared and work contributes to their advancement, cuisine should be no different,” he emailed. “The kitchen is our life, and we are available to share. We want to share our work so that future generations can cook and create a more efficient, easy and unquestionable quality.

“In my early days, I copied the great French chefs, like most chefs do. Copying is not bad. Copying and not recognizing that you are copying is bad. For me, when I go to a restaurant and am served a dish influenced by something we created at elBulli, if it’s well done, it makes me extremely happy.”

His life goal, he says, is to be happy.

“I use the kitchen as a pathway to achieve this happiness. My motivation is to keep learning and try to be better both professionally every day.” He appears immune to materialism and stays in modest hotels and has no desire for fancy cars.

elBulli, for all its fame and glory (and free labour from cooks and chefs lucky enough to get a stage, or practicum, in the kitchen) did not make money.

“elBulli as a restaurant was the R & D of elBulli as a company and like all R & D, the income was in the negative,” Adria says. But it was a springboard for other business ventures and products. “We were developing creativity and we existed as a restaurant to enable that. But now the other businesses have given us sufficient funds to move on to the enterprise level,” he says. “I never interpreted creativity as a way of doing business but as my lifestyle and my passion.” (That revenue stream includes books, supermarket products, kitchenware, endorsements and food outlets.)

As a youngster, he says, he wanted to be a soccer star.

“My idol was Johann Cruyff (a Dutch soccer player) and I wanted to be like him. But when I realized that I would never be, I decided to do something else. I met the kitchen by chance and quickly became completely enamoured by it.”

Asked about his drive and the motivation behind his success, he says: “I think my virtue was I never thought ‘This is impossible.’ I have always tried to achieve my dreams no matter how difficult it seemed. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes not but the desire to excel, honesty and self-criticism are vital if you want to get important things in life. I never interpreted creativity as a way of doing business but as my lifestyle and my passion. I enjoy creating.”

Putting his creations into perspective, he says: “The avant-garde has always existed throughout the history of mankind. The good things from the avant-garde last and eventually, after many years, become tradition and people forget they were ever part of the avant-garde. The kitchen is a living discipline, always evolving, and there will always be cutting edge things that over the years, ends up being part of tradition.”

As for molecular gastronomy, the label persistently slapped on his style of cooking, he seems weary.

“What we do is talk to science to learn from it and find solutions to problems and knowing the why behind things. But those who cook are cooks, not scientists,” he says. But he agrees that his food requires some mental effort to appreciate.

“Yes, our kitchen is a kitchen that makes food designed to be tasted with the five senses and it requires concentration to appreciate all that we want to express.”

And speaking of his five senses, I ask whether he does indeed have an extra large tongue and whether that affects his speech and provides him with super taste buds, as has been reported.

“This is the first time I’ve heard that,” he responds good-naturedly. “Honestly, I think I have a small tongue. But it is true that I talk a lot because many times I need to express a lot in a short time.”

At home, he says, he eats simply.

“Lots of fruit, short cooking times and so on. But when I go to a fine dining restaurant, I’m excited and I do expect to find proposals to wake my senses.” The most memorable meal ever, in a restaurant, he says, was in a village in China, dining with his wife.

“We entered a very humble restaurant with no pretensions and there I got one of the best vegetable dishes I have ever had in my life. There I realized that sensitivity can be found in the most unexpected places.”

He has visited Canada before and thinks it a fantastic country with wonderful cuisine.

“It has a great culture, great products and an incredible professional talent. The present and the future of Canadian cuisine is more than assured.”

When he visits Vancouver on Saturday, he will, as always, keep an open mind.

“I wait to be surprised and I normally am,” he says. He will be talking about his new volume of books and about the progress of the elBulli Foundation, which will be his next great adventure.

“It is a complex project that must be explained well so that people can get a real idea of its importance.

“Life,” he says, “has given me much more than I could dream of. I do no ask anything more, just now, than to try to give back to society.”


Blog: vancouversun.com/mstainsby


*This article was published in the March 5, 2014 issue of the Vancouver Sun and can be found online here.            

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

March 11, Vancouver Sun Article About Ferran Adria

Visionary Ferran Adria sets the table for the next generation

The ‘philosopher-Einstein of the culinary world,’ brings cooking out of the kitchen and into the research lab.


Some Vancouver chefs and their assistants with Ferran Adria, middle, on his Vancouver visit. Front row, from left, Thomas Haas, Masa Baba, Tojo Hidekazu, Adria, Ricardo Valverde, Scott Jaeger, Angus An; back row, from left, Lovett Sheng, Elmo Pinpin, Vikram Vij, Frank Pabst and Sean Cousin. Photo by Bethany Leng

Some Vancouver chefs and their assistants with Ferran Adria, middle, on his Vancouver visit. Front row, from left, Thomas Haas, Masa Baba, Tojo Hidekazu, Adria, Ricardo Valverde, Scott Jaeger, Angus An; back row, from left, Lovett Sheng, Elmo Pinpin, Vikram Vij, Frank Pabst and Sean Cousin. Photo by Bethany Leng



When the culinary colossus, Ferran Adria closed his groundbreaking restaurant, elBulli, near Barcelona, in 2011, he left admirers wondering ‘Why? What now?’

Adria was in Vancouver Saturday promoting his seven-volume elBulli 2005 to 2011, a massive $625 collection, chronicling elBulli food, with recipes from those years. He explained the why and the what, which hadn’t been clearly answered previously.

The “why” was easy enough to answer. He was pretty much burning out. He and his staff had invented (more appropriate than “created”) 1,846 new dishes.

“For 25 years, we tried to be the vanguard of cuisine. We succeeded for a long time. We could have held on for five more years but eventually, all vanguards must come to an end,” he said, speaking through a translator at the Vancouver Club. “For 25 years, I have been working, working, working, creating, creating, creating, but have had little time to reflect. We live in a society where we work very hard and there is too much information.

“So what was the path forward? We wanted a transformation that would last for a long time. We wanted to leave a legacy for the next generation,” he said. And that is the elBullifoundation, a training and research facility, and exhibition centred on the site of the old restaurant, extending into some park land. (It was granted permission because it would be an educational facility.) He collaborated with smart minds from universities around the world (Harvard, Berkeley, Columbia, MIT) for an interdisciplinary approach and announced that the foundation will have three components: elBulli 1846, elBulli DNA and Bullipedia.

“Some 31 teams worked around the idea of creativity,” he said.

ElBulli 1846 (the number of dishes created at the restaurant and the birth year of Escoffier, another culinary visionary) is an exhibition on the history of cooking; elBulli DNA is an inter-disciplinary cooking lab, hosting 40 people for eight months each year.

“They will be the best in the world,” he said, “chefs, architects, designers, working and studying the creative process, in particular, the cooking process. Cooking will be the medium.” Ideas will be shared on the Internet.

Bullipedia will become the ultimate culinary information tool.

“In May, there will be 80 people working on it,” he said.

They will decode, organize, classify and codify the world of food, creating a map of culinary genomes and taxonomies. It will address concepts taken for granted, like, what is cooking? What is a chef? What is technique? What is the difference between technology and technique? Did cooking start with fire? What about raw food or fermented? he asked.

“Does technique require tools? What about your hands? Is beer a beverage? What if it is used in a stew or ice cream? I spent 33 years as a chef and never asked myself these questions. For me, cooking was cooking. That was it and now everything I believe I have put into question.”

It would be easy to think black truffle ice cream or saffron ice cream were created by a modern chef but, he said, not true.

“They made saffron ice cream in 1768. There’s a cookbook on ice cream in which they were making both,” he said, underlining the importance of culinary history. “You need a dialogue between different voices.”

And interdisciplinary input is crucial for questions like: “Why do we talk about fish in the masculine or feminine in Spanish? Why not in English? They are totally different products. When a female is producing eggs, the quality lowers and the texture changes and we have to understand that.”

And: “It’s important that a tomato be prepared properly but it’s more important to know that it comes from a vine and that we ask why we don’t eat the leaves, roots, stem or flowers and why we do with other plants.

“Maybe you are saying ‘Leave me alone’ and that’s perfectly valid,” he said. The total reboot of how we think about food is really for the next generation.

“When I go to culinary schools, it’s super-easy for (students) to understand. For them, this is easy because they don’t have preconceptions. The whole elBullifoundation is based on this. It’s a level of information and knowledge that will challenge the new generation.”

But, he advises, get the priorities straight.

“The new generation and all generations have to understand, you should not look for success. You have to look for happiness in what you do.”

Organizer Barbara-jo McIntosh, of Books to Cooks, said the star-studded list of Vancouver chefs who heard the lecture were enthralled.

“So many chefs came to me saying how much they learned, how much they wanted to rethink things and how they needed to digest what he’d said. And, of course, they thought he was so generous.

“For me, the lecture was amazing and I love his desire to have us all truly understand food, to learn, to teach and evolve. What a smart philosopher-Einstein for the culinary world.”


Blog: vancouversun.com/miastainsby


*This article was originally published in the March 11, 2014 issue of the Vancouver Sun. The original link to the online version of the article may be found here.

There is life after Ferran: Upcoming events at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks


Our event with Ferran Adrià left our brains invigorated with the desire to learn, teach and evolve. Here in the shop, we value our capacity to strive towards understanding and design our events to entertain, educate and leave you with both a tasty memory and a desire to learn more.

In the next few weeks we hope to entice you to explore some of our exciting new events: share a feasting meal based on the Irish Pantry, discover the mysteries of Grappa, celebrate chocolate with one of our decadent events in early April or adventure into a cross-cultural dinner pairing Thai food and Scottish whisky. 


Share a St. Patrick's Day dinner with us on Monday, March 17 at 6:30 p.m. from the Irish Pantry book prepared by Chef Adrienne O'Callaghan.

We will be celebrating the Emerald Isle and learning about Irish hospitality while we sup. More information may be found here.


Discover the mysteries of Grappa with GM/Wine Director Robert Stelmachuk and Executive Chef Faizal Kassam of Cibo Trattoria and Uva Wine Bar on Thursday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m.

A selection of Grappas (an Italian spirit made from distilling the pomace- skin, pulp, seeds and stems- from winemaking) will be paired with scrumptious Italian bites. More information may be found here.


We welcome local writer Eagranie Yuh into the shop to celebrate her first book: The Chocolate Tasting Kit on Tuesday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m.

Eagranie will teach about the subtle nuance of chocolate, how to select the best varieties, and of course, we will be tasting plenty. More information may be found here.


Celebrate chocolate again on Saturday, April 5 at 1 p.m. with a sumptuous chocolate lunch, cooked from The Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook.

We are thrilled that local chocolatier and owner of Chocolate Arts, Greg Hook will join us today to teach us all about chocolate. More information may be found here


Adventure into a cross-cultural dinner pairing Thai food and Scottish whisky on Wednesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Chef Angus An of Maenam Restaurant will cook a delicious Thai dinner that will be paired with whisky instead of wine. Brand educator, J. Wheelock from Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants in Calgary will join us as we explore the flavours of the whisky themselves as well as the way they interact with the flavours in Thai food. More information may be found here.




Ferran Adria's search for knowledge

Celebrated chef Ferran Adria of elBulli Foundation watches as Jack Chen and David Gunawan of Farmer's Apprentice and Quang Dang and Alex Hon of West prepare brunch at Books to Cooks in Vancouver on March 9. — Image Credit: Martha Perkins

Celebrated chef Ferran Adria of elBulli Foundation watches as Jack Chen and David Gunawan of Farmer's Apprentice and Quang Dang and Alex Hon of West prepare brunch at Books to Cooks in Vancouver on March 9.

— Image Credit: Martha Perkins


Leave it to Ferran Adria to ask a very simple question that is very difficult to answer: “The taste of Vancouver — what is it?”

In France, you’d say “butter.” In Italy and Spain you might say “olive oil.” What is the one taste that defines Vancouver cuisine? (And, no, “seafood” doesn’t cut it. Is it salmon in a butter sauce, sushi, halibut with creamed spinach, fresh oysters?)

For the past decade and a half, the man whose restaurant, elBulli, was called one of the top 50 in the world, has been challenging himself to drill down through time and place to come to a core understanding of food. In his quest to “decode the genome of gastronomy,” Adria has transformed himself into the Darwin of the kitchen, trying to come up with his culinary version of the Origin of Species.

Adria has mastered cooking techniques in ways few others have but, just as it’s said there are only six plots in all the millions of books that have been written, he knows there’s very little true originality in cuisine. He wants to discover food’s equivalent of the six plots.

“If you want to understand food, you need to study it,” he told a group of chefs and food writers at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks on March 9, the morning after Barbara-Jo McIntosh hosted a special event with Adria at the Vancouver Club.

To study something, you need to categorize it, and that’s where things get tricky. Take honey. Do you categorize it as a sweet? It’s made by bees from the nectar of plants. Does that make it vegetal or animal?

What was food like before humans had the tools to cook it, before there was a pot in which to boil pasta or a knife with which to cut meat? What happened to food when we became able to cook it, not only eat it? Why do we eat a tomato, which is the fruit of a plant, but not its roots, like we do with carrots?

He’s come up with the “Map of Gastronomic Process: Reproduction”, which, in 2016, will become the foundation of an eight-month study at the elBulli Foundation. Students from around the world will experience a monk-like existence as they do for food what generations of scholars have done for literature and art.

“Thousands of people are doing a PhD on Picasso. Who studied Escoffier? Really studied him? Nobody,” Adria said through a Spanish interpreter.

“The classifications of food are a disaster,” he said. “Meat. What is it?”

Many books — as McIntosh’s store celebrates — have been written about the science of cooking but Adria’s goal is to take it to the Big Bang level. The goal isn’t science; it’s understanding. And to understand each other, we need a shared vocabulary.

One word he has come up with is “elaboration.” Honey is an elaboration that animals make for us. Then there are elaborated products; flour, for instance.

“We think that to understand cooking and the taxonomy of products, this is the best way to do it,” he said.

By October, Adria thinks he’ll be ready to present his approach on the internet, with a book to follow. In 2015, he’ll start accepting applications for the foundation, with studies to follow in 2016. Scholarships will be available so money is not a barrier. “We don’t want anyone to be excluded because they can’t afford it.”


*The original link to this article, published in WEVancouver can be found here.



Spring Literary Events at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks


Good news, dear readers: Spring is coming! And so are a bevy of fabulous authors.

It may not come as a surprise to hear that we claim authors and chefs as our heroes, and get excited every time there is a chance to meet these good people when they travel to promote a new book.

This spring, we have the pleasure of welcoming a number of exciting authors and chefs to our shop for a variety of events . We have some special literary ones coming up which are listed below.

We hope to see you soon!

Sincerely, Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

** Wednesday, February 19, 5:30 p.m.

Bob Foulkes joins us this evening to celebrate his new book, Off the Couch and Out the Door: Finding Meaning in Midlife, One Adventure at a Time. Inspired by his children and a previously stressful life, Bob chose to pursue a life filled with adventure and encourages us to do the same, whatever our age, means or circumstances.

His previous book, Adventures with Knives , will be available for purchase. Refreshments will be served.

For more information, click here  .

** Friday, March 28, 6:30 p.m.

Last fall we introduced a new club for your reading pleasure, one where we invite authors to come and lead a discussion about their new novels in our shop.

For our third adventure in this vein, we have invited author Padma Viswanathan to discuss her new work, The Ever After of Ashwin Rao. This novel is about the aftermath of the 1985 Air India tragedy told from the perspective of a grief counsellor who also lost family members on the plane. We will enjoy refreshments while Padma leads the discussion.

For more information, click here.

** Saturday, May 10, 2 p.m.

Today Julie Angus is in the shop to celebrate her new book, Olive Odyssey: Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit that Seduced the World. This book chronicles the story of the olive, as Julie, her husband and ten-month-old son discovered it while sailing on a small boat through the Mediterranean.

After Julie reads to us about her travels and findings, there will be an olive oil tasting provided by the Vancouver Olive Oil Company. We will be tasting oil from the regions discussed in the book, and they will be also be for sale afterwards in a pop-up shop setting.

For more information, click here.

** Thursday, May 22, 6 p.m.

Tonight we have the honour of meeting Ruth Reichl, a legend in food writing. She was the restaurant critic for The Los Angeles Times, then The New York Times before she was Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine.

Ruth is in town to promote her new novel, Delicious!. We will join her in the ballroom of The Vancouver Club for a reception and signing followed by a reading and Q&A. Refreshments will be served.

For more information, click here.

A Year of Feasts at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

 Cheers to a year of Feasts at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

2014 is looking good. Our schedule is quickly filling up with traveling authors and events with our own talented local chefs as well.

We are celebrating the good things in life: food, books, friends and family and looking to Feasting Days as a marker on our calendars for meeting together to share special meals with those we care about the most. First on the calendar is March 1 - St. David's Day , and a Welsh cakes demonstration. Then March 17 - A St. Patrick's Day Supper devised from the Irish Pantry. We invite you to join us in celebrating these days, and to watch our events page for more postings.

This year we are also honouring a few of our favourite authors who are no longer with us or are unable to visit the shop, but who have provided us with a rich legacy of knowledge and recipes in what we refer to as "The Classics". We have planned some wonderful Sunday Suppers featuring the books of Judy Rodgers, Paula Wolfert, and Penelope Casas.

** We still have tickets left for the Cava Reception and Lecture at The Vancouver Club on March 8 at 2 p.m. More details can be found here .

** We are delighted to announce a book launch on May 22 for Ruth Reichl, formerly the restaurant critic for the New York Times and Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine. Ruth's new book, Delicious!, will be launched at The Vancouver Club with a reception, reading and Q & A. More details can be found here .



The Book Club Goes to Paris

Barbara-jo's latest edition of the reading club celebrates both the culinary and literary traditions of one of her favourite cities with a four-volume tribute to Paris.

After a welcoming dinner, guests were introduced to a series of books that include The Flaneur. Writer Edmund White's critically-acclaimed work on the pleasures of strolling through the City of Light. White's book will be followed by Luke Barr's Provence 1970, the James Joyce classic Ulysses and Gloria Diliberto's Paris Without End.

As always, resident chef Glenys Morgan will prepare a special menu designed to compliment each work. Paris on the page and on the plate. Who could ask for anything more?   

Sale- French Language Books

paris whisper.jpg

Psst! Did you hear?

All of our French Language Books are now on sale and laid out nicely for your perusal on their own table in the shop. 

Discounts range from 25-50% and we have quite a few gems: Pierre Gagnaire, Philippe Rochat, and Michel Portos, just to name a few. 

But hurry, they're going like hot croissants!

The rumours are true, Ferran Adrià is coming to Vancouver!


The Rumours are true: Ferran Adrià is visiting Vancouver to celebrate new collection of books

We are thrilled to announce an unforgettable opportunity to meet Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, formerly of elBulli Restaurant (opened in 1964, closed in 2011 to become a culinary academy). We’ve all heard about this famous restaurant - named the world’s best for five years - and now we have the incredible experience of celebrating the release of Adrià’s new seven volume collection of books, elBulli: 2005-2011 with the man himself.

Our celebrations will take place at The Vancouver Club, where we will host two events on Saturday, March 8: a Cava Reception and Lecture, followed by an intimate and lavish Afterparty for 30 guests. We are proud to present to you the following diverse and very talented chefs who will be preparing the food for both the opening reception and afterparty: Angus (Maenam), Frank (Blue Water Cafe), Hidekazu (Tojo's), Scott (Pear Tree), Sean (Vancouver Club), Thomas (Thomas Haas Chocolates and Patisserie), and Vikram (Vij's).

To sign up for either one of these events, please call 604-688-6755.

If you are unable to attend these events, but would still like a copy of this historic collection of books, you may pre-order one here.


Last Minute Gift Ideas: Events at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks


A Books to Cooks Christmas Poem

If the snow coming down,

keeps you away from downtown,

and you're tired and don't want to fuss.


Just give us a ring,

we can do anything,

(P.S. Gift wrapping is always on us.)


A book or gift card,

our elves will work hard

to make sure your Christmas is merry.


You'll find events here

sure to fill you with cheer, 

now your shopping won't seem quite so scary.


A very Happy Christmas from all of us at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks!

Sense(ual) Cookbooks

When the day is done, and I lay in wait for slumber to transport me to dreamland, I find myself thinking about cookbooks.   And, as December approaches the years finale, I ruminate over the books that have tickled my fancy this season.

The best way to fall is asleep is with a smile, especially after a hearty chuckle, and the thought of six cookbooks that heighten my senses, did just this.


My EYES opened wide to a wild interpretation of  Brazilian cuisine in D.O.M.   Alex Atala

FEEL a delicious  tranquillizer settle my soul when reading COI.  Daniel Patterson

To SMELL bread baking is the wonder of kneading through TARTINE 3.    Chad Robertson

I can TASTE a world of flavour in ONE GOOD DISH.  David Tanis

I HEAR Nigel's enthusiastic voice of truth, in EAT, THE LITTLE BOOK OF FAST FOOD.  Nigel Slater

UMAMI dreams?  SMOKE & PICKLES.  Edward Lee


Here's to the joy of embracing our good senses.


Christmas Hours at Books to Cooks



For the month of December Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and Noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Other special holiday hours are as follows:

December 16-21, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

December 22, 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

December 23, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m

December 24: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

December 25 & 26: Closed

December 27-30: Noon - 5 p.m.

December 31: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

January 1: Closed

January 2-5: Noon - 5 p.m.

Holiday preparations for us, refreshments and discounts for you!



Christmas Prep Begins at Books to Cooks

Join us November 29 for a little festive shopping as we get into the Holiday mood

As Christmas approaches we sometimes feel like Santa's jolly elves- all those delightful books we have been excited about for months sally forth into people's homes, and it makes us so happy. Now we would like to make you happy too.

You are invited to join us November 29, anytime between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. for a special day of Christmas preparations and sales.

All books will be 10 % off, with free gift wrapping to help you prepare for your Christmas gift giving. Mulled wine will be steaming on the stove and our ovens will be warm and gifting spiced smells and tastes to all. Meanwhile, we will be decorating the shop and listening to festive tunes played on our beautiful piano, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. by the lovely and talented June Goldsmith

On this night only, we will be open until 7:30 p.m. along with our friends and neighbours Les Amis du Fromage and Chocolate Arts.

Hope to see you there!


Did you know we sell signed copies of some books online? Click here to order.

“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!” - Charles Dickens

“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!” - Charles Dickens

Extra Extra! A news bite for your Saturday morning

Our friends at the Italian Cultural Centre are hosting a Piedmont Truffle and Hazelnut Dinner on November 29 as a fundraiser for the upcoming Italian Film Festival in January.

Chef Carlo Zarri, a specialist in Piedmont traditional cuisine as well as cooking with truffles and hazelnuts, will prepare the following dinner:

- King prawn tails with Piedmont hazelnut batter on a bed of pureed potatoes
- Langhe style yellow bell peppers soup with Piedmont black truffle semolina cake
- Piedmont style risotto with Langhe truffle
- "Sofia Loren" vitellone beef fillet
- Langhe style nonna’s pudding
- Hazelnut petit fours

The doors for this special event will open at 6 p.m. with dinner being served at 7 p.m. in the Trattoria. Tickets are $70 and may be purchased by calling the Italian Cultural Centre at 604-430-3337. For more information, you may call the Italian Cultural Centre or visit their website.

A Blue Plate Book Club

Recently, the shop's Wednesday night book club discussed Kate Christiansen's Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of my Appetites. As a memoir, it celebrates the nostalgic impact of the famously named special. A longtime staple on diner chalkboards that  featured classic comfort food simply prepared.  

Chef Glenys Morgan put a spin on the traditional blue plate special that any diner would have been proud to serve. Accompanied by the absolutely essential side dish of mashed potatoes, the featured entree was a turkey meatloaf with a bacon crust that somehow managed to be light and deeply satisfying at the same time. For dessert? A lemon meringue pie that provided the perfect ending to a deeply comforting menu.