Today’s guest is Esther Dairiam, who I first connected with when my husband and I stumbled into her store Read It & Eat, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, when we had a half hour to kill before a dinner reservation. We’d never been anyplace like it, and were wowed by her concept, her kitchen, and her broad selection of both culinary books and live events.
In today’s interview, I got to hear the rest of the story—and it’s a good one. Esther’s professional background isn’t in food or books, but in management consulting. But like so many good stories, Esther’s turns on an epiphany she had on a trip to Paris five years ago. She left convinced that what her adopted city of Chicago needed was its own destination for culinary books and events, and not finding anything like it already in business, she sought to open that business herself.
We talk about food, of course, and the way it brings people together. You probably won’t be surprised to hear us mention cookbooks and food titles today, but we also discuss the characteristics of a great memoir, the inclusivity of food AND books, and the favorite books of her childhood.
Let’s get to it.
Photo credit: Frank Ishman.
Books mentioned in this episode:
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• The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food & Hustle in Harlem, by Marcus Samuelsson
• Author Enid Blyton
• Give a Girl a Knife, by Amy Thielen
• Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, by Joshua McFadden
• Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat
• Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts, by Stella Parks
• Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, & War, by Annia Ciezadlo
• Crescent, by Diana Abu-Jaber
• The Hundred Foot Journey, by Richard C. Morais
• Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone, by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
• Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin
• A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg
What do YOU think Esther should read next? Let us know in the comments!