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City Provisions Chef Cleetus Friedman Dishes About New Book

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jan 19, 2012 4:00PM

Photo by Christina Noel.
We hit up City Provisions for brunch at least once a month and like to pretend we know what's going on. Imagine our surprise when we saw this tweet from owner Cleetus Friedman last week: "Just submitted first outline of my book with @stinanoel to the publisher. 2012 is the year!" We hadn't heard a thing. Turns out no one else had either. We hit up Friedman to find out more about this new book project, tentatively titled "Touching Your Food."

According to Friedman, the book largely came out of the photographic efforts of his collaborator, Christina Noel. Noel has been "like a documentarian" for City Provisions. "When I opened, Christina was just getting started, and so she started shooting me for experience and exposure. We ended up becoming great friends, and she takes amazing photographs. I've watched her blossom." Noel accompanied Friedman while he worked with bees, made cheese and hosted farm dinners. Finally, Friedman realized he had a photographic record of City Provisions, and started writing a narrative. "We were about to start releasing it in my newsletter. Then Northwestern University Press came to me and asked if I had any book ideas."

Friedman emphasizes that this will not be the City Provisions Cookbook. "The whole thing about cookbooks is - people get scared of them when they see recipes with 20 ingredients!" While the book will have some selected recipes (it's been hinted that his potato latkes with ginger applesauce might appear) it will mostly be a coffee table book about the local food movement and Friedman's experiences working in it. Local food? Beautiful photographs? A few selected recipes? We'd do a pre-order right now.

It's important to note that things are still in the early stages. The outline is submitted, and Friedman would love to finish the book and have it released by the end of the year. However, he freely admits that he's not an expert in the book publishing business, so things may take longer than expected.