Author Talk

Jessie Leake

MM: Tell me about growing up in a well-known chocolate-making family. AG: Growing up, we had chocolate around the house but certainly not as much as I have in my pantry now. It was reserved for special occasions — baked in a sweet treat after a family meal or mixed into hot chocolate, which we took with us to games at Candlestick Park. Once I got older, I’d spend summer vacations working in our research lab — developing recipes, tempering, learning how to taste. In fact, the Chocolate Raspberry Bon Bon recipe in the book was the first recipe I ever “developed.”

MM: What is the most interesting lesson you’ve learned about cooking with/making chocolate? AG: Our pastry chef Donald Wressell is my go-to for all of my questions about baking with chocolate. It’s all about flavor and finding ways to celebrate that flavor, whether that means working with farmers to better understand their post harvest techniques or crafting chocolate that celebrates the inherent attributes of the beans. Keeping these things in mind as we source and bake puts things in perspective and gives meaning to the making.

MM: Does one ever get sick of chocolate? AG: Never. There are just too many different types to try and too many ways to enjoy. I’m always tasting new stuff and always experimenting with different chocolates in the kitchen.

MM: What was the most challenging part of creating this cookbook? AG: Paying adequate tribute to the history and legacy of our extended family of employees, customers and suppliers and of course my immediate family. It’s humbling to think about all of the history, knowledge and experience of everyone involved in making us what we are today. I’m merely the storyteller and a small piece of the ever-growing Guittard family. Also, not eating every bit of every recipe we tested.

Local Page Turners

Guittard Chocolate Cookbook by Amy Guittard (San Francisco), Chronicle Books, $25. Chocoholics rejoice! This tribute to chocolate tantalizes with recipes for crave-worthy treats, such as Chocolate Coconut Bread and Cloud Nine Brownies, not to mention 50 mouthwatering photos. Compiled by the great-great granddaughter of the founder of San Francisco’s Guittard Chocolate Company, this collection of family recipes takes Guittard’s gourmet chocolate to the next delectable level.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende (Tiburon), Atria Books, $28. In 1939, having escaped from Nazi-occupied Poland, Alma Belasco arrives in San Francisco. Living with her aunt and uncle, Alma falls in love with Ichimei Fukuda; however, when Ichimei is relocated to an internment camp, they are tragically separated. This enchanting novel glides through time, capturing decades of world history as well as the endurance of love.

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray by Dave Eggers (Mill Valley), illustrated by Tucker Nichols, McSweeney’s Books, $19.95. Eggers’ playful prose dances across Nichols’ creative collages to tell the story behind the Golden Gate Bridge’s unique color. The rich history and imaginative artwork will inspire children and adults alike to see this famous Bay Area bridge in a new light.

We Have the Technology by Kara Platoni (Berkeley), Basic Books, $27.99. Prepare to rethink your reality with this compulsively readable, eye-opening exploration of sensory science. Award-winning science journalist Platoni not only challenges readers to examine the basis of their perceptions but also reveals the ways in which researchers and bio-hackers are using sensory science to develop new technologies. Appearing at Book Passage San Francisco December 9, 6 p.m.

Not All Bad Comes to Harm You by Janice Mock (Tiburon), iUniverse, $16.95. When Janice Mock learned that she had stage four ovarian cancer at age 51, she turned her life-threatening diagnosis into a prescription to truly live. The tale expands on a blog started during her treatment. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera December 5, 4 p.m.

Book picks by Book Passage Events Coordinator Aliza Goldberg.