In the testosterone-fueled world of restaurant kitchens, women are the exception rather than the rule. Yet cookbooks usually target the latter, probably because they’re generally written for home cooks and home cooks tend to be women. But the tide may be turning.
As evidence, I submit the stack of new and soon-to-be-released cookbooks on my desk right now: There’s Man Food, by Billy Law, which has the image of a glistening bacon weave on its cover. Atop it, The Gourmet Dad, written by Dean McDermott, who is husband to gossip rag regular Tori Spelling. Also in the mix: Dude Food by Dan Churchill (“A guy’s guide to cooking kick-ass food”) and A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen by Matt Moore, who also wrote a cookbook called Have Her Over for Dinner in 2010.
Sure, Father’s Day is coming up and there’s often a surge in this kind of cookbook ahead of the season. But I’m struck by the sheer volume. Dad’s Book Of Awesome Recipes by Mike Adamick was also released this year, as was Esquire’s The Eat Like a Man Guide to Feeding a Crowd (a followup to its popular 2011 Eat Like a Man cookbook) and Two Dads by Paul Bullpitt and Blair Tonkin. The Single Guy Cookbook by Avi Shemtov hits shelves this summer.
“When you look throughout cookbook history, a majority of the cookbooks are geared toward women, entertaining, and quick family meals,” said Ron Longe, who’s handling publicity for Man Food. The numbers back him up: In 2012, Bowker Market Research revealed that 69 percent of cookbook buyers were women. But Longe has noticed a shift. “Now that men are in the kitchen more and sharing the cooking responsibilities, they’re actually looking at cookbooks [that go] beyond barbecue and Alton Brown. Maybe men are starting to bring the cooking inside.”
David Hawk, a senior publicist at Chronicle Books, which published The Eat Like a Man Guide to Feeding a Crowd, agreed that male-oriented cookbooks have been on the rise in recent years.
“Men are cooking more. Men are spending more time in the kitchen. Men are doing more grocery shopping,” Hawk said, adding that younger consumers may in part be to thank. “With millennials, it seems like that generation might tip the scales in terms of men being primary decision makers in the kitchen.”
Mark Rotella, a senior editor at Publishers Weekly, told us that the trend isn’t new this year. “For the last four or five years or more, publishers have been trying to target men — especially men cooks, first time cooks, or bachelor cooks,” he said. But this doesn’t necessarily mean men are buying more books. “By and large, women are still buying most cookbooks,” he stressed. “Even buying male-themed cookbooks for their husbands and boyfriends.”
Hard data is scant on the topic of male-themed cookbooks, and it remains to be seen if the category has staying power. Longe and Hawk concurred that it’s in the hands of the cookbook-buying masses now: If they buy them, more will come.
But hey — at the very least, you have plenty of gift options this Father’s Day for your kitchen-savvy dad.
More cookbooks that should be on your radar:
Would you buy any of these cookbooks? Tell us below!