The Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series Top Chef is the jewel in Bravo’s crown, so it isn’t surprising that the network has developed a range of branded products based on the show. There are Top Chef-themed flower arrangements from Teleflora, Top Chef branded wines from Terlato Wines International and Top Chef knives from Master Cutlery (we’re still holding out for the line of Top Chef-approved foie gras). Chronicle Books is the lucky winner of the exclusive publishing contract, and it has been a boon to the San Francisco independent.
Chronicle won Top Chef: The Cookbook in a “competitive auction” and published the book in March 2008. It has 150,000 copies in print, and publishing director Mikyla Bruder says “it has backlisted very nicely.” The main focus of Chronicle’s marketing campaign was advertising on edgy, popular sites like Eater, Eater Los Angeles, Eater San Francisco and Grub Street. Print ads ran in Food & Wine (which is a partner of the show) and the New Yorker’s annual food issue. The publisher organized Q&As and signings for contestants (er, “cheftestants”) at Barnes & Noble stores, and promoted the book and events heavily on Bravotv.com and on air throughout the fourth and fifth seasons. The book was also featured in episodes in both of those seasons, which Peter Perez, Chronicle’s senior marketing manager of food and drink, said “led to major sales spikes.” Chronicle has updated the book twice, each time adding a recipe from the new season.
With Chronicle holding onto its post as exclusive publisher of Top Chef books, another book and a trivia game are on the way. In November, the house will publish Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook, a $29.95 hardcover written by the creators of the show and featuring a foreword by host Padma Lakshmi. The book draws from the first five seasons and includes 75 recipes culled from Quickfire Challenges, the short, simple contests that make up a portion of each show (e.g., create a flambé dish in a limited amount of time; make an amuse bouche using $10 of ingredients from a vending machine). Bruder thinks it’s going to be big: “We expect The Quickfire Cookbook to equal, if not surpass, the performance of the first book. Quickfire is an incredibly popular segment of the show—it translates well to the home kitchen, and the book itself is spectacular.”
Chronicle is also releasing Top Chef Quickfire Challenge Game in November. The game’s trivia questions cover the first four seasons of the show, as well as food science, cooking techniques and ingredients. The 150 cards ask questions like, “Which Season 1 contestant was a part-time model at the time of the show?” (Candice) and “What are the two ingredients in a roux?” (butter and flour). The publisher will sell the $19.95 game in bookstores as well as Sur la Table, which has 74 stores nationwide, and Kitchen Kapers, which has 14 stores in N.J., Pa. and Del.
Top Chef Season Six premieres Wednesday, August 19 at 9:00 PM EST on Bravo.
This story originally appeared in Cooking the Books, PW's e-newsletter for cookbooks.