Could The Making Of A Cookbook Be Dangerous?

It was supposed to be a routine cookbook research expedition; but the jet-lagged team of culinary professionals from the U.S. West Coast arriving in Armenia in mid-April would quickly learn that “sometimes cookbook writing can take you in many directions.”

Their arrival coincided with Armenia erupting into country-wide democracy protests. There they were – smack in the middle of a tumultuous, historical event that was expanding into a full revolution! (See my previous post, “About That Trip To Armenia….”)

The cookbook team includes Kate Leahy, an award winning writer and author of more than eight cookbooks; veteran photographer John Lee; and prominent chef and food stylist, Ara Zada. In Yerevan they were joined by another friend, Raffi Youredjian, who knows the country well and would serve as assistant. Christine, an interpreter, also joined the group.

Before switching his professional focus to culinary and essay photography, John Lee worked for many years as a photojournalist. When the Armenian Protests broke out, he automatically reverted to photojournalist mode, getting into the thick of things filming the fast-moving events while following the protest leader around. The rest of the team, meanwhile, scurried around gathering more information.

During two decades of working as a staff photographer for the Chicago Tribune covering wars, hot spots, presidential visits and natural disasters across the globe, John was never injured. That record changed when a bang grenade blew up between his legs. (You can view that episode in a live report here.)

Thankfully, John’s injuries were not serious. After being stitched up he was able to continue on with the team winding their way through rural Armenia collecting and photographing material for their book as well as documenting – what they would eventually name – “The Lavash Revolution.”

The cookbook they are working on is called Lavash The Book, named for the most primordial food of Armenians – a thin, long and pliant bread. It’s origins are ancient and no meal is complete without it. The book is not just about the bread and the way it is made, or the versatile ways it is used; it is a culinary journey into some remote parts of Armenia where the reader – and potential traveler – will be introduced to many little-known authentic foods that always go with the beloved Lavash.

People who enjoy adventurous eating and travel can look forward with anticipation to the publication of Lavash The Book, due out in September 2019 by Chronicle Books.

For a  sneak preview check out the Lavash The Book Website where you will also have the opportunity to follow the progression of the book from its inception in 2017, as well as some of the exciting twists and turns the team encountered. Updates are also posted regularly on the book’s Facebook page, Lavash The Book on Facebook.

Learn more about the cookbook team!

Kate Leahy, writer –

John Lee, photographer –

Ara Zada, chef + food stylist –

Featured Header PhotoLavash The Book Team: author Kate Leahy, chef Ara Zada and photographer John Lee on location in Armenia. (Photo by Raffi Youredjian/flickr)

Lavash Classic – with fresh herbs and salty cheese. Photo by Raffi Youredjian/flickr

A fresh Lavash roll. Photo by Raffi Youredjian/Flickr

Author Kate Leahy learning more about the revolution in rural Armenia. (Photo by Raffi Youredjian/Flickr)

Victory for “The Lavash Revolution”. Photo by Raffi Youredjian/Flickr

Related Posts: About That Trip to Armenia…


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