Robert McCullough, publisher of Random House of Canada's new lifestyle imprint Appetite, has something in his offices that no one else in the company has: a beautiful view of the mountains in Vancouver.
Although it was a difficult decision for McCullough to leave Vancouver indie publisher Whitecap Books after a 21-year career, a few months into new the job he declares it was the right decision. “This was a great move and a great opportunity,” he says. “We’re actually just thrilled that we get to remain on the West Coast and be this wonderful West Coast division of Random House of Canada.”
Offering McCullough the opportunity to continue working in Canada’s famously beautiful and warmest city may have helped Random House woo the publisher, whose books won Cuisine Canada and World Gourmand awards while he was at Whitecap. But he says, it is also good for Random House to have a presence in Vancouver because it is “such a food-rich and lifestyles-rich city.”
McCullough says working on the lone imprint long-distance makes his work feel like that of a boutique publisher while still having the support of a big multinational. “It’s a very lucky position to be in,” he says.
So far, the Appetite lists for this spring and fall are all books that are tied to food, but McCullough says the lists will expand in other directions such as health, wine, and design. “We choose the name [Appetite] because you can have an appetite for anything in life, and we were trying to find a name that wouldn’t put us just into the food realm.”
The first and only book for spring, Rob Rainford’s Born to Grill, will be published on May 8.
In the fall, Appetite will publish Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, and the co-owner of his restaurants, Sami Tamimi. The book will be published in partnership with U.S. publisher Ten Speed Press and they will share his North American tour.
Also included in the fall list are: Modern Flavors of Arabia: A Food Journey Through the Middle East by Arabic television personality Suzanne Husseini, who lives in Ottawa and Dubai; Supergrains by nutritionist and food writer Chrissy Freer; The Soup Sisters Cookbook, by Sharon Hapton and illustrator Pierre A. Lamielle. Two more titles have recently been added: The Epicurious Cookbook by Tanya Steel, editor of epicurious.com, and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman.
McCullough is excited that some of the books originating at Appetite will be selling into the U.S. The Soup Sisters is one of them and is part of a larger Canadian phenomenon that is just about to cross the border into the U.S. On her 50th birthday, Hapton wanted to do something that would give back to the community. She and her friends got together and made soup, delivering it to a local women’s shelter in Calgary. This has now developed into a Soup Sisters organization with 14 chapters across Canada, says McCullough. People pay for a soup-making lesson with a star chef, and they package the soup for a local women’s shelter. “The classes are full through 2012 and they’re booking into 2013. It’s an incredibly successful venture, and I think it’s a lovely idea and book,” says McCullough. Hapton is donating her royalties back to The Soup Sisters organization. Random House of Canada is organizing several fundraising events and co-ordinating a national publicity campaign to promote the group's work to support women's shelters and domestic abuse awareness and prevention.