A Quarantine Must-Read

Judging from articles recently published on the Spooniverse – such as how to boost your immune system, or celebrating your birthday in quarantine – perhaps one silver lining of what has otherwise been a scary time is that we have gained new opportunities to get creative when it comes to food. 

With that revelation comes a quarantine must-read for those who are looking for more inspiration in the kitchen.

“Hi, I’m Hungry” is a debut cookbook from Melissa Santell, a food photographer, writer, and marketing professional.

Luckily for anyone who is bored during this age of social-distancing, Santell's cookbook is dropping in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, and it sounds right up Spoon readers’ alley.

The Journey to Publish

“It’s definitely a challenge I didn’t foresee happening,” said Santell of publishing under these circumstances, which have caused her to have to extend the pre-order of the book. Though this cookbook is being released soon, it’s actually a project that has been a year and a half in the making.

Santell said she started with conceptualizing the cookbook. From there, she worked on recipe development. She noted that some of the most important building blocks of creating any recipe are knowledge on flavor profiles, how to layer these flavors, and finding the perfect balance between texture and temperature.

Once her recipes were established, she began styling photos for each one, shooting the photos herself, and designing the book. What would come from all of her hard work is her personal 196-page food manifesto.

“The overall vibe and attitude of the book is like Andy Warhol and food had a baby,” said Santell.

Unlike a traditional cookbook, this one is broken into what she defines as “moments” of life. For instance, one chapter is devoted entirely to dinner party dishes, while another chapter focuses on hangover munchies.

“Every chapter is a mixture of sweet and savory,” said Santell.

Santell then went through the process of self-publishing, and acknowledged that she had help along the way. Jenna Rimensnyder acted as her editor, while Kait Clarke and Jesse Stehlik took pictures of Santell to be included in the book.

From Food Lover to Author

Once she broke down the steps involved in producing a cookbook, it is impressive to realize how far she has come. After all she, like so many of us Spoonies, started with a simple love for food.

Reminiscing on how the first dish she mastered was baked ziti, and how her career started with being a student food critic on her University of Tampa campus, Santell’s beginnings don’t look very different than where many of us on this website are currently at in our lives.

With that in mind, Santell’s cookbook is not just a quarantine must-read for the uniquely organized recipes or stylish photos. It also serves to show how foodies – like us – can become accomplished with our passion for food and a little hard work.

And I, for one, can’t wait to dig in.

You can pre-order “Hi, I’m Hungry,” on Santell’s website. Follow her on Instagram, too, for some gorgeous food photography. Stay inspired!