Still sparking joy after all these years: Nearly 90 years and 20 million copies later, Irma S. Rombauer’s self-published Joy of Cooking is a kitchen staple for generations of home cooks and professional chefs.
This month, the 12th edition of the iconic cookbook Joy of Cooking will be released after undergoing a thorough revision and expansion by Irma’s great-grandson, John Becker, and his wife, Megan Scott. They developed more than six hundred new recipes for this edition, tested and tweaked thousands of classic recipes, and updated every section of every chapter to reflect the latest ingredients and techniques available to today’s home cooks. Their strategy for revising this edition was the same one Irma employed: vet, research, and improve Joy’s legacy recipes while introducing new dishes, modern cooking techniques, and comprehensive information on ingredients now available at farmers’ markets and grocery stores. This latest version will be a great addition to cookbook collections for Joy of Cooking fans and budding cooks, just in time for holiday gift-giving.
Here at Zingerman’s, where hundreds of people are living out their dreams of working with food every day as a career, it turns out that the Joy of Cooking has helped inspire some of those dreams.
“It was the first book I cooked from. I’d come home from school when I was in 5th grade, read the recipes and pick some to try, always something baked. I used my mother’s copy, which was printed in 1953. She got it as a sophomore in college when she got married and moved into her own apartment. She still has that book. When I visited her last week it was right above her refrigerator with a couple of her other favorites. This made me laugh. At 83 she doesn’t cook much anymore but there it was, Joy of Cooking, right within her reach in case she needed it. I continue to use it as my tried and true resource book for basic information. I have a much newer copy that I bought in 1988 when I moved into my first apartment after college.”
-Amy Emberling, Zingerman’s Bakehouse baker, author, and co-managing partner
“Reading this book in junior high is part of what inspired me to be a chef. My favorite section of my 1960’s edition was ‘know your ingredients.’ I think it’s a foundational cookbook everyone should have.”
-Rodger Bowser, Zingerman’s Delicatessen chef and co-managing partner
“It has changed my life. I go there first for nearly every recipe. I love the pancake recipe. I’ve also made the doughnuts, and it felt so good to have done this thing that seemed so hard, but was actually pretty easy! The descriptions and depth of ‘why’ put into the book is what is missing from most recipe books.”
-Gary Mazzeo, Zingerman’s Web Designer
“The Joy of Cooking version my mom had included recipes for ostrich and alligator. As a child, this brought me a tremendous amount of joy (ha!). I never tried making them though.”
-Sara Molinaro, Zingerman’s BAKE! principal
“I grew up with this cookbook as a child. My amazing mother sent me a copy for my 20th birthday (37 years ago). I made my first Hollandaise sauce when I was probably 10 years old assisting my mom with a dinner party. To this day I still use the recipe for quick tapioca custard.”
-Amy Berger, Zingerman’s Bakehouse bread mixer
Joy Comes to Zingerman’s
When asked about his desire to visit Zingerman’s, John Becker said, “We met Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig eight years ago at one of the first food-industry events we ever attended. Knowing next to nothing about said industry, we asked him what Zingerman’s was all about, and his answers really piqued our interest. One of the things Megan and I first bonded over was cheese, and we vowed to make it to Zingerman’s if circumstances ever took us through Ann Arbor. Since then, we have befriended Ann Arbor expats where we live who have nothing but glowing things to say about the Deli—and the community of businesses that have grown from it.”
One of John and Megan’s few midwest stops on their national book release tour brings them to Ann Arbor and the Zingerman’s community of businesses. In fact, it will be their only Michigan appearance! The authors’ visit in January 2020 includes three events: a talk, a demonstration, and a plated dinner. Copies of the new edition of Joy of Cooking will be available for purchase and to be signed by the authors. Tickets for each event are available a la carte.
First up is an interview with John and Megan, moderated by Zingerman’s Bakehouse managing partner Amy Emberling, with time for questions from the audience. A meal will be served upon arrival, featuring four recipes selected from the book: keftedes (Greek meatballs), shaved fennel and white bean salad, Megan’s pumpkin seed brittle, and yogurt and honey panna cotta. This is part of the “Brown Bag Talk” series hosted by BAKE! at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in the ZingTrain speaker and meeting space.
The interview will be followed by a cooking and baking demonstration. Head to the BAKE! classroom at Zingerman’s Bakehouse to watch the authors create four recipes chosen from the book: olive oil flatbread crackers, spicy chickpea soup, frico eggs (with crispy cheese), and chocolate swirl halvah (a sesame butter fudge). After the demonstration, there will be generous samples to share, and you’ll go home with the recipes.
The visit culminates with a plated five-course dinner prepared by Zingerman’s Deli chef, Rodger Bowser. He designed the menu around his personal favorites from his childhood edition and recipes from the brand new edition. Dinner might include roasted cauliflower soup with khachapuri, kale and lentil salad, crispy fried tongue, kimchi macaroni and cheese, and Joy of Cooking pot roast. The feast will be served at Zingerman’s Greyline, an art deco-themed event space in downtown Ann Arbor.
To continue the Joy of Cooking tradition of inspiring cooks and bakers, Zingerman’s Deli will be inviting local youth to participate in the food preparation for the dinner. Rodger will host a ZingPath student from Zingerman’s work partnership with Ann Arbor’s Pathways High School.
Get yourself inspired in the kitchen again. Pick up a copy of the new Joy of Cooking for you and for the cooking curious youngsters (or adults) in your life. And be sure to grab a seat at one of these special Zingerman’s events before they sell out!
Reserve Your Seats:
The new Joy of Cooking will be available for purchase and signing at all Zingerman’s events, or order your book now
By Sara Hudson, Marketing Coordinator for Zingerman’s Community of Businesses
Sara grew up in metro Detroit making her own birthday cakes and dreaming of a career in baking. At age 17 her path began with the Schoolcraft College Culinary Arts program, and at 18 she got her first job in the field right here in the pastry kitchen of Zingerman's Bakehouse. That work evolved over a couple of decades to include baking, customer service, cooking, project management, copywriting, and much more. She even helped to create BAKE! and this blog! Today, Sara leads the creative team at Zingerman's Service Network, supporting the blogs, websites, copywriting, packaging, and other marketing for Zingerman's Community of Businesses. Sara remains a die-hard fan of Pecan Pie, Pavlova, Paris Brest, Patti Pockets, and other desserts that start with 'P.'