The five-year-old meal-delivery service, which disperses eight million meal kits a month, is trying to think outside the box with its latest effort: a new cookbook. The Blue Apron Cookbook: 165 Essential Recipes for a Lifetime of Home Cooking (Oct., Harper Wave), covers kitchen basics and, according to its acquiring editor, could become the next staple title for home cooks. The big question, though, is whether Blue Apron customers, who already receive collectible recipe cards with their kits, need a cookbook.
“We really see [The Blue Apron Cookbook] as the new culinary bible,” said Karen Rinaldi, Harper Wave's senior v-p and publisher, who bought the book at auction. She believes the book to be a worthy successor to The Joy of Cooking, The Silver Palate, and The Dean & Deluca Cookbook. Like those three classic titles, The Blue Apron Cookbook is intended to be a go-to guide for those just starting out in the kitchen.
To combat the aforementioned issue of making the book appeal to Blue Apron customers, who are already receiving recipes from the company, the publisher has turned out a visually appealing book; it features over 700 photos that illustrate cooking techniques and what the different stages of a recipe should look like.
For Rinaldi, though, the real appeal of the title is that it delivers something beyond the meal kits. For her, the book is less focused on what to cook but, instead, how to cook. “I see it as complementary for people who get the service,” she said. “The book gives people a foundation. What I loved about it, even for experienced cooks, [is that] it gave me new tricks.”
The book's emphasis on technique can be seen from its early pages; the authors dedicate all of chapter one to "Roast Chicken." Once home cooks have mastered that dish, they are encouraged to move on to “Sunday Roasts” and “Slow Roasts.” Soups come toward the middle of the book, salads a bit further toward the back. The final chapter covers “Desserts.”
Harper has gotten strong advance orders for The Blue Apron Cookbook, enough to come close to its announced first printing of 100,000 copies, according to Rinaldi. The press will cross-promote the title with Blue Apron. A big PR push is also planned for the service’s culinary directors, Chris Sorensen and John Adler, with Harper Wave looking to do events on the East Coast, as well as the Bay Area and Seattle.
Acquired in a two-book deal, Harper Wave is intending for the brand to support more than a single title. A second book—slated for fall 2019—will feature 100 recipes that focus on seasonal foods. The goal of this title is to educate home cooks about seasonality. And Rinaldi considers it a strong follow-up to the delivery service's "cooking bible."