Just follow the drawings and start cooking!

By Nora Vasconcelos

Have you had a hard time trying to follow a recipe? If this is the case, the Picture Cook is the answer to all your worries.

Picture Cook Book OK

Published in 2013 by Ulyses Press and developed by Katie Shelly, this original book replaces most of the words, to deliver a number of recipes with drawings and simple instructions. By this way, it’s possible to find all sort of dishes, from enchiladas and rice, to salads and desserts.


How did this idea started? Katie Shelly answers herself:

“One day a friend was telling me a recipe over the phone, and I took notes by drawing, sort of without even realizing it. Later that evening when I was cooking I found it really easy to follow that recipe-as-drawing. That inspired me to make more recipes into drawings.

“I distributed a PDF of ten recipe-drawings to my friends via e-mail. They really loved the digital “cookbook,” so I submitted it to Drawn!, a now-defunct illustration and cartooning blog that I liked a lot.

“The illustrator John Martz posted it on the blog, and it quickly exploded on the internet. It got a very good reception from people all around the world, even non-English speakers because you don’t need to know much English to understand the recipes. From there, I got an agent and started talking to publishers. And that’s how it snowballed from a ten-recipe PDF to a fifty-recipe hardcover book”.

How did you choose the recipes that appear in the book?
I wanted the book to be eclectic– healthy; indulgent; easy things and hard things; American, global, classic and weird stuff. The recipes in the book are from a combination of sources. Some are from friends, some are my own, I even sourced some from people on Facebook who were fans of my project from the very beginning.


Did you get any help from a chef?
Yes, my friend Nick Perkins is a chef at Marlow & Sons, a restaurant in Brooklyn. He advised the whole way through, looking at early drafts of the book and submitting a few of his own recipes as well.

Was it difficult to transform the recipes into drawing?
Not hard at all! I just think about the steps, draw them down, and then wiggle the different segments around the page until it looks nice. Once I have a skeleton structure, I go in and flesh it out as a detailed drawing. I do this on the computer, in Photoshop, so it’s easy to shift things around.


How long did it take the whole book project, from the original idea up to it was published?
The original idea happened in 2009, but the project was sort of sleeping between then and 2013, when the publishing deal finally came through. Once we agreed on a length, number of recipes, trim size and all those specs, it took about 7 months to actually produce the book.

Are you currently working on another Picture book? If so, what is it going to be about?

– Not yet, but I would really like to! Any ideas? 🙂


So, while Katie finds a source of inspiration for another original book, the Picture Cook. See, Make. Eat book gives people who love cooking, who want to learn how to cook, or who love design, a great chance to spend a relaxing time.

* All images courtesy of Ulysses Press

Licencia Creative Commons

I'm part of Post A Week 2014


Author: The Traveling Book Club by Nora Vasconcelos

I'm a born writer and a journalist who loves books so much that can't live without them.

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