The joy of cooking by committee
December 2, 2011
Part-time Park City resident Karin Eastham was the Chief Operating Officer at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research and now serves exclusively on an array of executive boards in the public biotechnology field.
She is also enjoys cooking and hosting dinner parties. So she decided to share her leadership know how in a new cookbook called "Cook the Part," which was printed by Carr Printing in Bountiful and published by Crosswalk Press in San Diego, Calif.
Unlike other cookbooks that are comprised of recipes, photos and step-by-step instructions, "Cook the Part" adds a new flavor teamwork.
Yes, in this book, the dinners are cooked with a group of people.
"I didn’t want this to be just a cookbook, but I wanted to help others create events in their homes like I have done over the past 25 years when I brought people together for a pasta fest or to do a Spanish wine dinner," said Eastham in a break during a governance conference at St. Regis.
Eastham starts with a group of between eight and 12 people, depending on the size of the kitchen, and splits them up into teams of two, or three or four.
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"I create four work stations and put out the required ingredients and then turn the teams loose," she said. "They can collaborate, work together or even telephone their aunts to get some advice if the dough of something isn’t coming out right."
The book outlines how to divide up the tasks in a way that everyone has a chance to work on the whole meal, Eastham said.
There is a team plan in the book and on the website (http://www.cookthepart.com ) people can access the PDF, which makes it easier to print the recipe they’re going to cook, so they don’t have to lay the book open or on the copy machine, she said..
"Everyone touches multiple recipes, so you’re not delegating one team to just a salad or another just to the main course," Eastham explained. "This is something where everyone can create the food together and, at the end, everyone owns the result as a complete team. This diffuses the responsibility of potentially messing something up, because all own the meal together, and they learn from and help each other."
Another work-station benefit is the tasks that seem insurmountable to a single cook become doable.
"They all find they are having fun, because there is support in the teams," Eastham said.
That’s where building good teams is similar to building better boards, so it’s all about how do you get people to work together to create an outcome that benefits everyone.
"I have cooked with many board directors whom I work with on my various boards. It’s amazing how much you can learn about people while working together," she said. "You can be on a team you’ve known for a long time, or you can be on a team with someone you hardly know and build relationships that go beyond the typical cocktail-party banter," Eastham said.
"Cook the Part" is designed for foodies and families who want to cook together. It features eight themed menus Tuscan Farmhouse Dinner, Pacific Northwest Seafood Evening, Comfort Food, A Taste of Baja, Dinner in Athens and Spanish Wine Dinner and detailed team plans that tell the host or hostess what needs to be done to prepare for a dinner party.
"Many of the dinners are things my family has been cooking for years with colleagues over the past five to 10 years," Eastham said. "I wanted to recreate some of those chapters, because they have been successful cooking events."
Also, some of the recipes were created by Eastham’s husband, Gary.
"He was a key ingredient of the creation of the book," she laughed.
The book’s concept has been bouncing around in Eastham’s head for six years, but she started writing diligently in 2008.
"I had retired from a full-time job to focus on my (board) directorships three years ago," she said.
Eastham learned a lot during that time regarding printing and publishing.
"I have new respect for anyone writing a book or who wants to get one published," she said. "It took a while to find good printing and publishing companies and someone to do the artwork."
Eastham recruited the talents of Salt Lake City artist Tracy O’Very Covey for the cover and inside pages.
"I feel fortunate to have found Tracy," she said. "It was by chance that I saw another cookbook that she designed a little over a year ago when I attended a cooking class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking in New Mexico.
"I loved the book cover and looked inside and saw she was from Salt Lake City, and since I’m a part-time Park City resident, I thought it would be fitting and, furthermore, her art makes it special."
In the past couple of weeks, "Cook the Part" was selected by Best Books U.S.A. 2011 as one of the award-winning finalists for both the Cookbook and Gift and Specialty categories.
"We were also included on a website called http://www.sheknows.com , as one of the five, must-have cookbooks for the modern chef," Eastham said. "I’m so proud of what we have done."
Karin Eastham’s "Cook the Part" is available through her own website, http://www.cookthepart.com . The books are autographed and she pays the shipping on orders of three or more. The book is also available at http://www.amazon.com . For more information, visit www,facebook.com/cookthepart