Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guest Author: Cherie Twohy and the I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook

The many talented authors in the Pasadena area have unlimited things to write about. Today we welcome Cherie Mercer Twohy, creator of three cookbooks (so far) based solely on the products at Trader Joe's, a homegrown grocery chain.

I’m delighted to be part of Petrea’s local authors’ series—thanks for inviting me!


I’ve always been a Trader Joe’s groupie. I grew up in Southern CA, as did TJ’s. (I guess you all know that they started in our own Pasadena backyard?) As I became more interested in food and cooking, I found myself cruising the aisles of different TJ stores, as they expanded, first in California, and then across the country. When I got ready to open my own cooking school, Chez Cherie, I decided to see how much interest there might be in classes focused on cooking with Trader Joe’s products. They’ve been so popular and are a ton of fun to teach.

In 2009 I was contacted by a publisher interested in doing a Trader Joe’s cookbook. Since I’d been doing the classes for years, it seemed like a natural next step. The first book came out in November 2009 and so far has sold over 70,000 copies! Yikes—I know my mom didn’t buy all those copies, so there are a ton of TJ fans out there! Since that book’s publication, I’ve heard from so many folks--you can’t imagine what pleasure I get, knowing that people I don’t even know are out there, cooking from my books! I get emails from people who don’t even live near a TJ’s, but remember them fondly, and adapt the recipes to ingredients available near them. I even hear from readers who plan their vacations around TJ locations, so they can stock up. Now that’s dedication! It’s such a kick when gourmet groups and cookbook clubs feature the book, and it’s great fun to hear what they are cooking up.

I literally write the cookbooks on the kitchen table. So easy to dash to the stove or fridge to check a label, adjust a recipe or sneak a taste as I’m writing. I should own stock in 3M, as I go through thousands of Post-its in a week of recipe development. I’m so lucky to have a cheerful test-audience in the TJ cooking classes, so I get quick and personal feedback on what their families have loved. I’d love to hear from you--please let me know your favorites from the books! Cherie@ilovetraderjoes.com 


Do you know a published author in the San Gabriel Valley who ought to write a guest post for Pasadena Daily Photo? Are you that author? Contact me.
 

20 comments:

Italo said...

I find so perfect to write the book in the kitchen! :)

Dina said...

My LA son always takes me through the fascinating aisles of Trader Joe's when I visit America.
Thanks for this post about your cookbooks, Cherie. Next trip I'll know what to buy for the son.

Vanda said...

Sounds like something right up my alley. I already cook from Trader Joe's/

Steven said...

Congrats and much success with your TJ's cookbooks. Trader Joe rocks. It is one of my favorie grocery stores and they also have a nice selection of wine.

Petrea Burchard said...

Good morning, everyone. I slept in a bit today but now I have my coffee and I'm so glad to see you all. I hope Cherie will check in to answer some questions today because now that I see Italo (commenting from Italy) and Dina (commenting from Israel) I wonder: are the recipes easily adaptable if you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby?

I do, too, Vanda. And I could use a little help.

Steven, I wish I could remember the wine my friend discovered there last week. All my girlfriends were talking about it and everyone went to buy a case.

Cherie, a commenter on Facebook wants to know if the cookbooks are available in TJ's stores. I directed him to the Amazon links, but let me know of other you know of (he's in Chicago).

Thanks for your comments, folks.

chezcherie said...

hello--how lovely to wake up to this post and comments!
italo, no better place to write a cookbook than the table, no? write a little, cook a little, taste a little!
dina--thanks for your idea. the books make great gifts. my middle son took the photos, and he says all his post-college friends are cooking from them.
vanda, would love to know some of you favorite items from tj's!
thanks, steven--we spend a lot of time in the tj wine aisle! just found a new fav--blackburn and james paso robles red blend. a bit of everything in there, and quite drinkable! i think it's $5.99.
petrea--i've taken care to write the books so that the recipes can be used even without a tj nearby. for example, if a recipe calls for a jar of pesto, it will indicate the size of the jar, so yoiu can sub in homemade, or any purchased pesto you like.
the books are available just about everywhere BUT trader joe's. amazon, independent booksellers, barnes and noble, urban outfitters, etc.
thanks for all the interest! i'll check in this afternoon to see what other questions you might have.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Cherie. I let the Chicago folks know!

Susan Campisi said...

I can't imagine life without Trader Joe's. Congrats on your success with the cookbooks, Cherie. What a great idea. Your cooking school looks fun, too.

Karen said...

I never realized how dedicated TJ's fans are until I saw this fan tribute:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdB7GDZY3Pk&feature=player_embedded#at=12

... daisy... said...

I agree with Italo on this one!

Anonymous said...

Cowgirl Caviar is one of my favorites!

chezcherie said...

thanks for all your kind words! and anonymous, that cowgirl caviar is one of my very faves, too! and so good for you, too!

Petrea Burchard said...

That video is fun. Thanks, Karen, I'd forgotten about it. There's also some English cheddar I can't get enough of. And the trail mix.

Bellis said...

I will definitely buy these cook books now that I know they're "home-made" in the kitchen, tested and tasted. And I agree about that Blackburn and James wine. P, I hope you remember the wine you and all your friends liked (though they've probably sold out if you all bought a case). Trader Joe himself now chooses wines for Costplus World Markets.

chezcherie said...

yes, petrea--please do enlighten us on that wine.
lovely lemur, bellis! any favorite lemur treats at tj? inquiring minds...

Petrea Burchard said...

Bellis, I think you were there. We were having breakfast at Clockers and Des and Karin were talking about it.

Cherie, thank you so much for posting about your "I Love Trader Joe's" cookbooks today. I've enjoyed having you! And I really appreciate everyone's comments.

I love the guest author posts and I hope you all do, too. It's my goal to do them at least once a month if not twice. This month we're fortunate to have two. In two weeks we'll have journalist and small business expert Karen E. Klein. Stay tuned.

All the guest authors have been women so far! I shall have to seek out some men. I think I remember how to do that.

Susan Campisi said...

I bought the "I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook" at Vroman's last night. I'm sending it to my dad with a TJ's gift certificate for Father's Day. He loves Trader Joe's! Thank you, Cherie and Petrea, for the gift idea.

Petrea Burchard said...

Oh, that's just too cool.

chezcherie said...

oh, great--thanks susan and petrea! and happy father's day to your dad(s)! i hope the vroman's copy was signed...if not, i'd be delighted to do so! hope he loves it.

Susan Campisi said...

Cherie, thank you so much for the sweet offer to sign your book but it's already in the mail on its way to NY. I'm sure my dad will love it either way, signed or not.