A year after its Broadway debut, Waitress has racked up four Tony nominations and continued commercial success. At the end of March, the show's producers announced that songwriter Sara Bareilles, who scored the musical, would take on the lead role. The show is also entering new territory with the publication of the official tie-in cookbook, Sugar, Butter, Flour, due out from Pam Krauss/Avery on May 23.
Pam Krauss, v-p and publisher at her eponymous imprint, described the book’s genesis as one of those “small world stories”—in a very New York sense. The restaurateur Danny Meyer introduced David Black, the literary agent, to the show’s producer, Barry Weissler. “I’d been a big fan of the movie, so when David told me he’d been talking to Barry about putting together a tie-in cookbook I immediately had an idea in my head of how it could [work] very naturally,” said Krauss.
The musical, based on the 2007 movie of the same name, follows Jenna Hunterson, a waitress and pie maker stuck in an unhappy marriage. Hunterson serves as the cookbook’s “author.” Krauss turned to the script for the recipes in the book (which draws its name from a refrain sung throughout the musical), crafting recipes alongside Southern baker and recipe developer, Sheri Castle.
“[Jenna] uses pies as metaphors for expressing her hopes and fears, her dreams and frustrations, and some of the recipes were actually written right into the script,” said Krauss. “It was just a question of adding quantities for the ingredients and directions for assembling it.”
With some recipes--like those for Love, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness Pie and Lonely Chicago Pie--the script didn’t offer too many clues, so Avery was a bit more “playful” in its interpretation. “But when you have a pie named My Husband’s a Jerk Chicken Pot Pie, the recipe kind of writes itself,” said Krauss. Other recipes include Old Joe’s Horny Past Pie, the Key (Lime) to Happiness Pie, and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee pie.
While Krauss believes you can “make a cookbook out of just about anything,” this book was an organic extension of the Broadway show. “From the minute you walk into the theater and see the curtain, which is a big old lattice-crust cherry pie, you’ve got baking on the brain,” said Krauss. “It even smells like baking in the theater, with vendors selling adorable jar pies at intermission.” The musical also brought on a “pie consultant,” who bakes the pies that appear onstage.
When asked about the difficulties of promoting a book without a real author, Krauss acknowledged that with certain titles, it can be a challenge. “But in this case the recipes literally speak for themselves,” said Krauss. “These days there aren’t as many opportunities for authors to travel doing cooking demos in any event. Evocative recipes like these are perfect for sharing on social media, and for authorless in-store events. They just get people giggling and talking.”
The book will be sold at the merchandise table at the musical’s home at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, and the musical itself will be promoting and selling the title through its website, in addition to pre-order campaigns through its social media channels.