Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks opened in Vancouver’s Yaletown district in the fall of 1997. Barbara-Jo McIntosh, the store’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.
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 fabulous book captures the ambience of forty culinary events featuring celebrated chefs and authors and their cookbooks. Look for this collection of charming memories and more than 50 recipes in fine bookstores everywhere (especially at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks where autographed copies are available).
The store stocks cookbooks, wine books and periodicals from around the world, including professional books and a carefully chosen selection of out-of-print books and “rare finds.” Unique and useful kitchen tools are also for sale.
The focal point of the shop is the fully-appointed demonstration kitchen, where cooking classes and demonstrations feature recipes from new and notable books.
Carol Watterson’s keen appetite for the pleasures of good food and good writing has ensured that her professional and personal interests always touch upon food in some form or another. These varied experiences led to a career path, both roundabout and inevitable, in publishing, which included many satisfying years with Raincoast Publishing (one of her fondest achievements is publishing a little gem of a book called Tin Fish Gourmet!). In 2004, eager to keep her hand in writing and publishing, as well as to justify her cookbook obsession, Carol started Cookbooks We Love, a completely biased and opinionated blog offering picks and reviews of her favourite cookbooks.
Recent years have been devoted to raising two healthy, food- and nature-loving girls. “Our favourite family activity is hands-down spending a fall day mushroom hunting,” she says. “My kids have been avid mushroom pickers since they could walk—and nothing beats the thrill of finding a patch of pine mushrooms or a basket full of chanterelles. The evening is then spent in perusing our favourite mushroom books before sorting, cleaning, and preparing a mushroom feast. One of life’s greatest culinary pleasures is a slice of fresh matsutake fried to perfection and dipped in soy sauce.” Carol takes further delight in the “infectious atmosphere” of good cheer and great ingredients that our Granville Island location offers, and loves “sharing experiences of a particular writer, great recipe, or cookbook with another food lover.”
Carol’s favourite books include The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater, all of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage cookbooks (especially The River Cottage Family Cookbook), Feast by Nigella Lawson, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarrini of the Rose Bakery.
Barb Wong is driven by such an insatiable curiosity about food that it has inspired her other great passions in life, such as her career, travels, and family. In her ten years as community dietician, Barb has found that conversations with most clients “always boil down to food and how to cook and nurture themselves.”
In 2000, Barb co-founded VanEats, one of Canada’s first food blogs, which continues to allow her a voice and space for sharing experiences with other Vancouver foodies. This self-confessed “cookbook junkie” loves helping others to “create great food experiences by finding a good cookbook, as well as talking about cooking technique and where to find ingredients.”
Barb’s favourite books include Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Baking Illustrated by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Authentic Vietnamese Cooking by Corrine Trang, and Trattoria Cooking by Biba Caggiano.
Laura Nairn appreciates the finer things in life: music, art, travel, and, of course, food. This UBC Art History grad can often be found singing arias from La Boheme to herself while shelving books. During high school, she spent three Christmas seasons creating gift baskets at Meinhardt Fine Foods, where she worked alongside her sister.
Over the past six years, Laura has also enjoyed working for two of Vancouver’s best catering companies and the opportunities they provide to combine her love of great food and elegant entertaining. Her extensive travels through the UK, France, Italy, and Mexico have only increased her hunger for adventure. “I cannot wait to go back!” she exclaims.
Laura’s favourite books include Cooking at My House by John Bishop, Feast by Nigella Lawson, Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten, and The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater.
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’ favorite cookbooks include Biro by Marcel Biro , The New English Kitchen by Rose Prince, Being Dead is No Excuse by Gayden Metcalfe, Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros, and Sugar by Anna Olson.
The store is 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.