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Q&A with Jane Cornes Maclean

Published 19th November, 2018 in Behind the Book
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You edited the recipes in Margaret River Press’s upcoming book, Fervor. How does editing recipes differ from traditional book editing?

My focus as an editor of recipes is to ensure that the recipes make sense—as in, is the amount of sugar right? And would one really add the eggs before the water?—so that the reader can replicate the dish at home with minimum effort. I often find myself in dialogue with a chef, querying methods and quantities and how best to express these to the reader.

How did you become a cookbook editor?

I was the WA editor of Gourmet Traveller magazine for over a decade. I also worked as an editor with Scoop magazine and wrote restaurant reviews for the Subiaco Post for over five years. So I’ve eaten, written and thought about food for one hell of a lot of my professional life. Editing recipe books was a natural progression.

Do you have a favourite recipe from the book, or one you’re eager to try?

There are too many that I love in this fabulous book. I was blown away by Yoda’s [Paul Iskov’s] food. His attention to detail and adventurous approach were a breath of fresh air. My favourite recipes are those using salt bush, my new favourite ingredient.

What struck you the most about the recipes in Fervor?

Their freshness, their truth. You can tell just by reading them that the food will be exceptional. It’s rare these days for a recipe to make me want to cook, but Yoda’s [Paul Iskov’s] recipes get me very excited.

What sort of cookbooks do you think there is a market for these days, and why do you think there is such a demand for cookbooks?

It seems to me that the recipe books that create the most traction these days are those that stay simple and true to a culture. We love to read about food even if we don’t cook it that often. Food books have been likened to porn—watching and reading about it becomes a bigger part of the exploration than the actual doing of it!

Jane Cornes Maclean is an award-winning features writer, editor, creative writing teacher, musician and songwriter. She also provides international representation for select World-class musical acts. For over a decade, Jane was WA State Editor for Gourmet Traveller magazine. She was also the Food and Wine Editor for Scoop magazine and inaugural Program Director of the Mundaring Truffle Festival. For five years, she wrote independent restaurant reviews under the ‘Madame Lush’ byline for Brett Christian’s Post Newspapers group.

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