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Holiday books for cooks

Local books that offer everything from sustainable seafood to fermented fun
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Curling up with a good book is one of the great pleasures of the holiday season. Even better is when that book offers up delicious recipes and stories you can share with your loved ones or enjoy all on your own. Here are a few that are both excellent reads and fantastic gift ideas.


The Gastown Foodieby Brad Hill and Chris Dagenais

The third installment in the local Foodie Cookbook series, The Gastown Foodie houses more than 100 recipes from 37 different restaurants, bars, cafes and breweries in the neighbourhood. Even better, it includes the stories of the chefs and restaurants that are helping to shape the culinary scene of this evolving and vibrant corner of the city. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every book will go support local community initiatives such as Hives for Humanity and A Better Life Foundation.

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The Gastown Foodie, by Brad Hill and Chris Dagenais. - Contributed


Starters, Salads, and Sexy Sides by Caren McSherry

Caren McSherry is Vancouver’s culinary doyenne. The owner of Gourmet Warehouse, a specialty food and housewares emporium for local cooking aficionados, she is also a talented chef and author of multiple books who appears regularly on television and radio. Her latest cookbook is all about easy wingman dishes to go with your mains that are both inventive and delicious. From prosciutto and pear wedges to “really good” meatballs, the recipes here will make your next hosted event just a little less daunting. Don’t miss the mini halloumi sliders (see recipe at

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Lure: Sustainable seafood recipes from the West Coast, by Ned Bell with Valerie Howes. - Contributed


The Okanagan Table: The art of everyday home cooking by Rod Butters

If you haven’t heard of Rod Butters, then you’ve obviously never eaten in Kelowna. The owner of Raudz Regional Table and Micro Bar Bites is one of the earliest proponents of the locavore movement in the Okanagan. With more than 80 illustrated recipes, the book highlights the local, seasonal flavours in a timeline-themed list that follows the order in which we enjoy meals; sunrise, midday, sunset, and twilight. From crab cappuccino to chocolate mashed potato brioche, Butters’ recipes push boundaries but never sacrifice flavour. Look for the suggested wine, beer and spirits pairings that accompany many of the recipes and don’t fear using a mandolin in recipes like the root vegetable torte; it’s totally worth it.

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The Okanagan Table: The art of everyday home cooking, by Rod Butters - Contributed

Lure: Sustainable seafood recipes from the West Coast by Ned Bell with Valerie Howes

If there is a more passionate and vocal advocate for healthy oceans than Ned Bell, I have yet to meet them. The executive chef for Vancouver Aquarium and the Ocean Wise program, Bell began his push for sustainable seafood even before his time as executive chef at Yew Seafood at The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. In addition to cycling across Canada to bring his message to every part of the country, the talented chef has now put together an impressive tome of not just recipes, but also profiles on multiple species, instructions and tips on how to buy, cook and store fish (both fresh and frozen), pairing options, sauces, and more. The book also draws attention to lesser-known species of seafood that are just as delicious as the ever-popular salmon, tuna and halibut. From seaweed brownies to geoduck and sardines, just follow along to be lured into a lifelong love affair with seafood.

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Lure: Sustainable seafood recipes from the West Coast, by Ned Bell with Valerie Howes. - Contributed

The Cultured Cook by Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM

Consider this as the book you’ll love after the holiday feasting has come to an end. Vancouver-based Schoffro Cook is a certified herbalist and board-certified doctor of natural medicine. In her latest book, she explores the world of fermented foods loaded with probiotics that can help to minimize inflammation, boost gut health, encourage weight loss and improve overall health. The book includes vegan and gluten-free recipes that range from pickles and nut-based cheeses to recipes for vegan yogurt and cultured vanilla ice cream. Even if you’re not ready to completely give up dairy, as she advises, there is always room for a little more culture in one’s diet, right?

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The Cultured Cook, by Michelle Schoffro Cook. - Contributed


Anya Levykh is a food, drink and travel writer who covers all things ingestible. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @foodgirlfriday.