Do you read cookbooks like novels and flip through food memoirs faster than crime fiction? Then mark your calendar for the AJC Decatur Book Festival, taking place Sept. 2 to 4, at downtown Decatur Square.
Numerous celebrated cookbook authors and food writers are among the mix of more than 300 national and local authors giving lectures, participating in panel discussions and signing books at the free event. Food and drink lovers can soak in expert talk of everything from barbecue to baking at the food and cooking stage, which is moving this year to the MARTA plaza.
On Saturday, Sept. 3, former Atlanta Journal-Constitution food editor Anne Byrn, better known as the Cake Mix Doctor, will kick things off with a history of cakes, which she explores in her newest book “American Cake.”
Following Byrn will be canning expert Marisa McClellan. The food blogger, canning instructor and author of “Food in Jars, Preserving by the Pint,” and the 2016 release “Naturally Sweet Food in Jars: 100 Preserves Made with Coconut, Maple, Honey, and More,” will guide home canners on how to capture of the bounty of the season using natural sweeteners.
Those who can’t fathom a meal without bread will want to hear bread authority Peter Reinhart speak about mastering the art of making bread. Reinhart is the author of a handful of bread baking tomes, including “Whole Grain Breads” and “Crust and Crumb.” His “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice 15th Anniversary Edition” will be released on Sept. 6. Reinhart is also a full-time baking instructor at Johnson and Wales University and the owner of Pie Town restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Other meaty discussions will come from Meathead Goldwyn, founder and editor of the barbecue and grilling website amazingribs.com. Goldwyn will demo techniques from his “Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling,” a guide to the concepts, methods, equipment and accessories of barbecue and grilling.
In addition, Cynthia Graubart will bring poultry into the picture. Graubart is co-author with Nathalie Dupree of the classic “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” Her latest book, “Chicken,” is all about America’s favorite fowl, and she’ll share know-how for preparing chicken every which way.
Korean cuisine is having a moment, and some fun Korean cookbooks have hit the shelves this year. Among them is “Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes” by Robin Ha. The cookbook, presented in the format of a graphic novel, is a colorful, step-by-step introduction to cooking Korean fare at home.
Those looking to explore Southern foodways will want to sit in on Ronni Lundy as she discusses the cuisine of the Mountain South, which she explores in her new release “Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes.”
New to the festival this year is a nod to legacy cookbooks in an effort to recognize cooks who defined or changed the way we understand and cook food. What better way to begin than with the late Edna Lewis? Head to the food and cooking stage on Sept. 3 at 3 p.m. to hear Southern food ambassador Ted Lee serve as color announcer to Atlanta top toque Todd Richards, executive chef at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails and chef-owner of newly opened Richards’ Southern Fried when he demos recipes from Lewis’ cherished “The Taste of Country Cooking.”
On the drink side, notable spirits writers Robert F. Moss and Fred Minnick will share the stage to raise a glass to the culture of booze. Moss recently penned “Southern Spirits: Four Hundred Years of Drinking in the American South“ while whiskey expert Minnick wets the whistle for bourbon with his “Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker.”
Here is the schedule of topics and presenters for the AJC Decatur Book Festival food and cooking stage:
10 a.m. – “American Cake,” Anne Byrn
11:15 a.m. – “Naturally Sweet Food in Jars,” Marisa McClellan
12:30 p.m. – The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, 15th Anniversary Edition: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread,” Peter Reinhart
1:45 p.m. – “Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling,” Meathead Goldwyn
3 p.m. – “Legacy Cookbook: The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis,” Ted Lee and Todd Richards
4:15 p.m. – “Uniquely Southern Cocktails,” Robert F. Moss and Fred Minnick
12 p.m. – “Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes,” Robin Ha
1:15 p.m. – “Chicken,” Cynthia Graubart
2:30 p.m. – “One True Barbecue,” Rien Fertel
3:45 p.m. – “Victuals,” Ronni Lundy
AJC Decatur Book Festival: Pat Conroy tribute keynote event, 8 p.m. Sept. 2 at Emory’s Schwartz Center. Dav Pilkey kidnote event, 5 p.m. Sept. 2 at Decatur High School’s Performing Arts Center. Festival, 9:30 a.m.-6:15 p.m. Sept. 3; 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 4. All events free; tickets required for keynote and kidnote events. www.decaturbookfestival.com.