Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks opened in 1997 and is located in the Armoury District. Barbara-jo McIntosh, the shop’s owner, envisioned an epicurean’s delight, where food lovers and cooks of all abilities would find inspiration.
Barbara-jo McIntosh is an award-winning food professional with over 25 years experience in the food and hospitality industry. Formerly the owner of the popular Vancouver restaurant Barbara-Jo's Elegant Home Cooking, she is now a passionate bookseller and supporter of the culinary arts.
Barbara-jo opened Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks in Vancouver’s Yaletown district in 1997 and in 2005 relocated to the Armoury District on 2nd Avenue. Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks is an epicureans’ delight, where food lovers and cooks of all abilities find inspiration.
Author of the bestselling Tin Fish Gourmet, Barbara-jo served on the prestigious James Beard Awards cookbook selection committee for six years. In 2003, Vancouver Magazine honoured her with a lifetime achievement award for her many contributions to the local culinary scene.
In 2004 Barbara-jo published Great Chefs Cook at Barbara-Jo's. This charming book captures the ambience of forty culinary events featuring celebrated chefs and authors with over 50 recipes contributed from their own cookbooks.
In 2010 Barbara-jo launched french apple press, an independent press whose aim is to publish unique and treasured books for likeminded culinary and book enthusiasts. French apple press released their first book in June 2010, Cooking for Me and Sometimes You; A Parisienne Romance with Recipes by Barbara-jo McIntosh. In her culinary memoir with recipes, Barbara-jo takes readers along with her as she realizes a life-long dream of spending a month living, loving, and cooking in Paris as a true Parisian.
Glenys Morgan found her first culinary hero close to home. "I realized what a good cook my Mom was when I looked at other kids' sandwiches at school and had no desire to trade whatsoever," she chuckles. Growing up on the family farm and eating at her mother's table also taught her that "what comes out of the garden, goes into the kitchen," a maxim that she now holds more dearly than ever. It's a message that was reinforced by travelling as a young woman in Europe and Morocco, where the use of fresh local ingredients infused her cooking with a sense of spontanaeity and flexibility that classical training at Le Cordon Bleu hadn't provided.
The culinary scene that she came home to was experiencing "a rapid-fire era of change," as Glenys puts it, and she soon seized an opportunity to develop a program of classes at Calgary's Culinary Arts. A career in teaching and consulting has since led her to Granville Island's Market Kitchen, West Vancouver's Tools and Techniques, and some of the city's best restaurants and retailers, including Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks. Glenys confesses that her personal collection of cookbooks is "all over the map," consisting mainly of much-loved "odd books" she has acquired over the years. She enjoys reading other cooks' recipes, appending them to her own knowledge and experience like one might a "fine print" footnote.
Glenys's favourite books include Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni and It Must Have Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten.
Mark Holmes likes to joke about his many years in the local hospitality industry. “I was the oldest living busboy at Hy’s Mansion,” he laughs. Arriving from London 25 years ago, the native of Wales came here with no restaurant experience. His first interview was at the posh William Tell. He remembers telling them: “Well, I’ve been to a lot of restaurants.” They decided to train him anyway and, much to his surprise, Mark discovered the waiter’s life suited him. “I liked the horrid customers as well as the nice ones,” he says. Unfailingly elegant, Mark recalls telling one especially horrid customer: “Madam, the wine will taste a bit different after four martinis.”
In a career that spans work at some of Vancouver’s best loved restaurants – including a stint as the catering manager for the Georgian Court Hotel – Mark has especially fond memories of his two years as the waiter everybody wanted to be served by at Barbara-Jo’s Elegant Home Cooking. Reunited with Barbara-Jo at the shop, he adds just the right touch of playful sophistication to the surroundings.
Marks favourite cookery books include anything written by Nigel Slater.
Joan Harvie was 12 when she persuaded her mother to get a subscription to Gourmet. Both her parents worked and she learned to cook early. Around the time her first issue of Gourmet dropped through the mail slot, she recalls successfully making puff pastry turnovers with raspberry filling. “I loved rolling out the dough,” she recalls, with lingering affection.
It’s all part of a lifelong passion for cooking and cookbooks. “I’ve always been interested in the history and culture of food,” she says. No wonder Joan feels so at home working at the shop. Originally from Winnipeg, she began her career in the hospitality industry in her early twenties. “I served cocktails at the Keg,” she laughs. It was a stint at an Italian restaurant that gave her a real appreciation for what goes on in a professional kitchen. “It was a small place. So I was just inches away from the chefs and could see everything that went on.”
Today, she’s co-owner – with her chef husband Neil – of Yaletown’s well-known Hamilton Street Grill. They have two children – 12-year-old Matthew and 10-year-old Hayley. Joan continues to enjoy reading cookbooks for fun. Three of her current favourites? April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate and Hawksmoor At Home.
The store is nestled in the heart of the Armoury District - fast becoming THE design district in Vancouver.
We are open seven days a week with a fabulous selection of cookbooks and wine books guaranteed to satisfy any appetite.
We welcome you to browse the shelves and enjoy our warm, inviting atmosphere. The shop has a full kitchen which is used to demonstrate recipes from new and notable cookbooks. Cooking classes are conducted right in the shop, and guest chefs and cookbook authors are often here sharing their culinary expertise.