When six passionate and unstoppable Sydney Jewish women started the Monday Morning Cooking Club, little did we know that in just ten years we would sell 50,000 cookbooks worldwide, collect, preserve and share treasured recipes and stories and enable charities to raise over $500,000.
Looking back, the plan was simple. In 2006, our goal was to create a cookbook that could sit in any bookstore, alongside the best cookbooks in the world. We wanted to share our Sydney Jewish community’s ongoing obsession with all things food, which would include the best recipes from the best cooks in our community. And, as a not-for-profit group, we hoped to raise some money for charity along the way.
We were, and still are, totally inspired by our community’s love of family, friends and celebrations that always seem to revolve around food.
Over many cups of tea and of course the odd piece of cake, the project slowly evolved into what it is today—a strong platform for collecting, preserving and sharing treasured recipes and stories from the world Jewish community.
Thanks to our combined skills of cooking, fressing (eating with joy and abandon!) and perseverance, we have published two books, Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food, the stories, the sisterhood (2011, 2013), recipes and stories from Sydney’s Jewish community, and The Feast Goes On (2014), recipes and stories from Australia’s Jewish community.
We have gained an insight into what graces kitchen tables each night, family favorites for Shabbat and special occasion dishes for the festivals. We are privileged to hear life stories that are at times sad and tragic, luminous and special, familiar and comforting, strange and surprising; stories of survival and success, families and friends, loss and recovery. We understand the strong connection between food and family, and how a particular dish can bring back memories of a loved one, long gone.
We love finding those recipes that have never been written down and would otherwise be lost. Those without weights and volumes; with a handful of this and a pinch of that. Our joy is to modernize these heirlooms and make them easy enough for any cook to follow, no matter where they live.
We are now working on a third book, due to hit the shelves in March 2017, a delicious and rich, story-filled snapshot of cooking in the global Diaspora. We have spent the last two years searching for the best Jewish cooks in the world, looking for recipes that come from the heart and much-loved dishes that have been feeding family and friends for years.
I’m the “Chief Pot Stirrer” of the Monday Morning Cooking Club, and this project is my absolute passion. Our sisterhood has endured and enjoyed a rollercoaster ride of challenges and successes—from the low of our first rejection from a major publisher through the joy of Nigella Lawson and Nicole Kidman telling the world how they love our book, to the highs of being published worldwide by Harper Collins and becoming a “go-to” cookbook for so many home cooks.
We now have seven in our sisterhood: Merelyn Chalmers, Natanya Eskin, Lauren Fink, Paula Horwitz, Jacqui Israel, Lynn Niselow and me. More ideas, more cooking and more love! We want to continue to collect, test, share and preserve those treasured recipes from the older generation for our generation, and from our generation for the future. And yes, there will be a fourth book!