Gastrokids is a kids food blog, written by Bon Appétit features editor Hugh Garvey, who, like Bon Appétit, is based in Los Angeles, and Matthew Yeomans, a writer based in Wales. It is also a cookbook, The Gastrokid Cookbook: Feeding a Foodie Family in a Fast-Food World, published last month by Wiley. We caught up with Garvey (he and Yeomans have known each other since working together at the Village Voice in the early nineties) to ask him about the genesis of the blog and the book.
Squid Ink: You're an editor at Bon Appétit; how did you get into blogging about kids?
Hugh Garvey: My old friend and co-blogger Matthew Yeomans and I wanted to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly of cooking for our families. Bon Appétit doesn't do bad or ugly.
SI: When and why did you start your blog?
HG: Matthew and I used to eat and drink quite well together in New York, before we had kids, before I moved to Los Angeles, and he moved to Cardiff, Wales. We were on the phone in the summer of 2006 talking about our respective kids and how they surprised us with what they'd eat: kimchi, stilton, bear ham, and the like. We were swapping recipes and stories about feeding our families and, ever the editors, we realized we were part of a bigger story about a generation of 30-something foodies coming of age, having kids, and sharing that wonder with them. It was a personal story for both of us that was really writing itself. The blog was a natural and almost effortless extension of that.
SI: The connection between the blog and the cookbook?
HG: The cookbook is the culmination of 10 combined years of experience and experimentation with cooking the best food possible for our families (2 wives, 4 kids total). It's a foodie family manifesto and a collection of our best recipes, tested and perfected.
SI: What was it like to try and get a cookbook published in this economic climate?
HG: We got our book deal just before the economy took a dive, so we were lucky.
SI: Was the market more favorable to a kids cookbook?
HG: Oddly, no. I think the first problem is the idea that it's a “kids” cookbook. “Kids” cookbooks don't sell because kids simply can't cook dinner every night. Ours is a family cookbook, a subtle, but enormously important difference, as the reality is the responsibility falls to the parents.
SI: Did it help that you have a blog?
HG: Absolutely. That's how our agent found us.
SI: Did your kids help with the book?
HG: They ate every recipe and were brutally honest.
SI: Do your kids like it that you blog about them? I only ask because mine are super tired of it.
HG: Sometimes. But they're tired but telling me not to touch their food until I get a good shot of it.
SI: Your cookbook is doing very well: what do you think about the recent Julia phenomenon, also Michael Pollan's claims that home cooking is dead?
HG: I love the Julia phenom. Anything that gets people excited about cooking thoughtfully is wonderful. As for cooking being dead: not quite. The upside of cooking shows as spectator sport is that it makes it easier to get kids excited too. Like the Williams sisters can inspire a little girl to pick up a tennis racket, Cat Cora in Kitchen Stadium can inspire one to pick up a spatula.