In 2004, Phaidon’s Emilia Terragni met with the publisher of the Italian magazine Domus to discuss collaborating on a design book, then the publisher’s main specialty. The magazine had already signed up with another publishing house, but mentioned that rights to their definitive Italian cookbook, The Silver Spoon (Il Cucchiaio d'Argento, first released in Italy in 1950), was up for grabs.
“Phaidon had never published a cookbook before, and I’d never worked on a cookbook before, but we decided to take a chance,” said Terragni. Phaidon released the book in 2005 in both the U.S. and U.K., and it became a surprise bestseller.
The publication thrust Phaidon into the cookbook publishing sphere, where it is now a major player, and, today, Silver Spoon stands as a landmark single cuisine work—in terms of its influence, it often draws comparisons to other staples like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the Joy of Cooking. It has sold more than a million copies, and is “still going strong,” according to Terragni. This fall, to mark the tenth anniversary of its English publication, Phaidon is releasing The Silver Spoon: Quick and Easy Italian Recipes in September, and debuting three single-subject cookbooks as part of its new Italian Cooking School line, in October.
“The Silver Spoon was the first cookbook with a real Italian pedigree,” said Terragni, who was dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as Phaidon's “Queen of Cookbooks” in 2014. “The recipes that had been very succinct in the Italian edition have been fleshed out for a new audience, yet they retain their authenticity.”
In the new book, the recipes from Silver Spoon have been reworked “to make them as accessible as possible,” resulting in dishes that can be cooked in 30 minutes or less. The three slimmer titles, Pasta, Pizza, and Desserts, will, said Terragni, allow the publisher “go deep” into into a subject, reflecting how people learn to cook in Italy. “They serve as building blocks: start with a simple task and basic recipes, and once you master them, build on them to tackle more challenging recipes,” said Terragni. “Once you master a recipe and variations, you can get creative.”
Phaidon is looking forward to “strong coverage during the holiday season” for both the new full-size cookbooks, and the Italian Cooking School titles as stocking stuffers. The anniversary milestone has also given Phaidon opportunity to connect with various Italian cultural organizations like the National Italian American Foundation surrounding the publication of the forthcoming titles.
The titles this fall join a slate of Silver Spoon books published by Phaidon since 2005, including Recipes from an Italian Summer, Fish: Recipes from the Sea, and The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes, among others. The title that spawned the line a decade ago has transformed into a “living archive of recipes,” said Terragni. “New recipes and photographs are constantly being added to this amazing collection...While the ingredients, methods, and quantities in these recipes are revised to suit contemporary tastes and lifestyles, they preserve the memory of ancient recipes for future generations.”