You sell more than just cookbooks.
We have books on culinary history, molecular gastronomy, restaurant management, food-themed fiction: from a book on the role of food in the plays of Molière to one on the sociology of New England clambakes.
Are you friends with your famous-chef customers?
I’m not; I do very little in the way of socializing with foodies. But pretty much everybody has been in: Vongerichten, Boulud, Batali, Dan Barber, Wylie Dufresne. There’s a lot of yak, and that’s fun for us. They’re buying books for inspiration, not for recipes.
Au Pied de Cochon is raunchy, outrageous, unconventional at every level. Vegetable Harvest is more decorous but still has highly inventive vegetable dishes.
Which is your favorite cookbook of all time?
That’s like asking someone to name his favorite child. One great book is called Cucina Fresca, on Italian cold and room-temperature foods. Another is Parisian Home Cooking.
Any guilty pleasures?
The Wonder Bread Cookbook, The Twinkie Cookbook, some Star Wars cookbooks.
What would be a perfect day of dining out?
Breakfast at Barney Greengrass. Bagels and lox and mounds of cream cheese. Lunch? Maybe the Carnegie Deli for a pastrami-and-chopped-liver sandwich on rye. For dinner, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and I would let chef Dan Barber choose my dish.