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The Jersey Shore Cookbook: Now Available!

Deborah Smith, founder of Jersey Bites and now author, releases her first cookbook today, with the help of Quirk Books and Penquin Random House. We managed to corner our busy chief biter to chat about the book and found out what we can expect.
Photo shoot at Shore Fresh Seafood in Point Pleasant Beach

Photo shoot at Shore Fresh Seafood in Point Pleasant Beach.


How did the book come to be? 
The book journey all started with a phone call last spring, from Philadelphia-based Quirk Books. My soon-to-be editor reached out to me with the concept already in mind: 50 recipes from Jersey Shore restaurants. Which restaurants? That would be my job to figure out.

Clambake sign

Photo by Thomas Robert Clarke

Who is the book targeted to?  
The intended audience for the book is anyone who lives or has lived, visits or dreams of visiting the Jersey Shore. Locals will love it just as much as the tourists. It is really much more than a cookbook. The book contains background and the inside scoop on each restaurant: where to sit, their most popular dishes, what the regulars know, in addition to where they source their food and what their experience was recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

How did you decide which restaurants to include?
I started with some restaurants already in mind from being a customer. I had to get the shrimp and grits recipe from The Brick Wall in Asbury because I’m addicted to it. Likewise, I had to get the Gables scallop recipe because I know it is absolutely divine. I narrowed my focus down to just towns that touch the ocean. I had a ton of ground to cover from Keyport to Cape May, so I just couldn’t venture inland. In the beginning I went after the iconic restaurants I felt I had to have in the book, like Knife & Fork in Atlantic City, and The Lobster House in Cape May. Then I started asking some trusted sources for their suggestions and finally, I let the ingredients lead me. Toward the end there were holes I needed to fill. I didn’t have any recipes that included watermelon—something every summer cookbook needs, so I searched out two restaurants with interesting watermelon dishes on the menu.
What was the process like?
The process was hectic and exhilarating. I had an extremely tight deadline and I was contacting these restaurants during the height of their season. They hardly have time to breathe in the summer and here I was asking them for recipes, photo shoots, edits to recipes, background on their restaurants and more. As you can imagine, it was challenging. I got my fiftieth restaurant just in the nick of time.
Photographer Thomas Robert Clarke getting his shots at The Grenville in Bay Head.

Photographer Thomas Robert Clarke getting his shots at The Grenville in Bay Head.


Who took the photos? 
The photographer is Thomas Robert Clarke. Everyone who has seen the book thus far comments on how great the photography is. He had a harder job than I did, I think, since he had to physically get to each restaurant over the summer for multiple photos. He is amazing. Tom does a lot of work for Edible Jersey and has won some pretty impressive awards.

Shore Fresh Details-003Were there any recipes that surprised you?
I don’t know if they surprised me, but they definitely excited me. I really wanted to spotlight local food as much as possible, so some of the recipes that spotlighted the lesser known fish varieties like the New Jersey skate with summer vegetable ratatouille from Cape May’s The Blue Pig Tavern and the New Jersey tile fish with bacon corn succotash and basil oil from Beach Tavern in Monmouth Beach were welcome additions. We also wanted to spotlight Jersey Fresh produce so the watermelon gazpacho from My Kitchen Witch in Monmouth Beach is a fun one. And I think Remington’s spicy corn chowder is going to be a hit during Jersey corn season.
Where can someone pick up a copy of the book? 
It is available online at Amazon.com and will also be available regionally at Costco, Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, and I’m hoping most local independent book stores. The book is also perfect for shore area gift shops. 
Jersey Shore Cookbook Website

Photo Credit: David Walsh, Walsh Creative

So, what plans do you have around the cookbook this summer?
So much is happening around the launch of the book. I hope everyone will check out the website, JerseyShoreCookbook.com, which will include an up-to-date listing of events as well as photos of our adventures and photos from readers who have tried the recipes and the restaurants in the book. If you decide to share your photos, please use #JerseyShoreCookbook in the post so we are sure to see it and share it! 
Come on out to meet Deb and pick up a copy of the Jersey Shore Cookbook at these upcoming events!
April 12, 6:30 p.m.: Launch Party at Fratello’s in Sea Girt. Tickets can be purchased online through Booktowne in Manasquan.
April 14, 7:30 p.m.: Book signing at Words Book Store, Maplewood
April 23, 12 p.m.: Author Day at Barnes and Noble, 180 State Route 35, Ste 2152, Eatontown, New Jersey
April 30: Book signing at Taste of the Town, Skylands Region. 
May 1, 1:00 p.m.: Talk and Signing Books & Greetings, Northvale 
May 7, 4 p.m.: Book signing at Short Stories Community Book Hub, Madison
May 17, 7 p.m.: In-store Cookbook Club event at Newtown Bookshop.
May 14, time TBD: Whole Foods, Wall, NJ. Tasting from contributing chefs and book signing.
May 27, 6 p.m.: Signing and tasting from contributing chefs at Stella e Luna, Point Pleasant Beach
June 12, 11 a.m.: In-store signing at Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr, PA.
June 18, 2 p.m.: Montclair Public Library Food Writer Panel: Book will be available for purchase.
June 19, 11 a.m.: Signing at the Nutley Farmers Market
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