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Alta Editions is an award-winning publisher of beautiful online cookbooks. 

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Alta Editions Goes To Berlin

Chris McBride

Alta Editions, Jesta Digital, Jesta Group, cooking classes, test kitchens, Laurent Gras, My Provence, ecookbooks

This past week the Alta Editions crew had the privilege of sharing our first digital cookbook with colleagues from our corporate headquarters in Berlin, Germany. Over 30 employees turned out to cook a selection of recipes from the Laurent Gras: My Provence eBook. The event was held at the colorful Kulinarischer Salon in the beautiful Charlottenburg neighborhood of West Berlin.

Planning this event from New York was no simple task. The number of Berlin cooking salons was about as limited as my German language skills and my original plan to cook twenty-five dishes was quickly cut down to sixteen. Thankfully with help from our German communications department, we were able to divide the employees into teams and translate all of the ingredients for the wonderful staff at Kulinarischer Salon to purchase at the local Kaiser grocery store.

Finally the day had come. Four teams of digital marketers, app developers, product managers and designers went to work carefully preparing a salad, starter, main course and dessert from the Provence-inspired cookbook. As the teams raced (and disagreed) over the first pick of ingredients and dibs on one of the two ovens, it became clear that this cooking event would not be as seamless as I had originally envisioned...

Questions about the implementation of some of chef Gras' more complicated techniques began to paint an ominous picture over my idea of what would be a wonderful, stress-free event. Luckily after a few successful salad preparations and some glasses of French wine even the most cooking-challenged members of our staff were making culinary magic! For six hours the kitchen was filled with wonderful aromas and abuzz with the sounds of knives chopping, pans frying and nonstop laughing. By the end of the evening every group completed their assigned dishes with the only two mishaps being a spilled Chocolate Tart and an over salted Crabe Toulonnaise. The event turned out to be a great success not only for team building but also for providing us with delicious food to enjoy together.

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Behind the Scenes at our First Cookbook Photo Shoot

Chris McBride

LaurentCrew

LaurentCrew

Ever wonder how a cookbook is created? Here's a behind the scenes look at the photo shoot for Laurent Gras: My Provence, shot over a two-week period in a TriBeca-based culinary photo studio aptly named The Shooting Kitchen. We had the pleasure of working with an amazing team of talented professionals including the dynamic photography team of Shimon and Tammar Rothstein, co-author and James Beard Foundation EVP Mitchell Davis, the film crew from Broderville Pictures and finally, master chef Laurent Gras and his two assistants Marco and Amanda.

Photo Mar 15, 9 08 00 AM

Photo Mar 15, 9 08 00 AM

The team met in the studio every morning at 9am for breakfast and planning. Each day we shot between four to five dishes, from ingredients and prep to cooking and final plating, over 10,000 photos total! I was tasked with the special responsibility of ensuring that each of the over 400 individual ingredients were not only on hand for chef Gras, but met the specific color, quality and size specifications for each of the dishes. By the end of the shoot I had a detailed mental map of three downtown NYC Whole Foods, the Chelsea Market, Eataly and various specialty food shops around Manhattan. Needless to say I had enough grocery shopping over those two weeks to last me a lifetime...

Photo Mar 16, 2 52 50 PM

Photo Mar 16, 2 52 50 PM

On the other hand, working on a cookbook with a master chef does have its perks. Aside from picking up the occasional cooking tip and working in a studio constantly filled with mouthwatering aromas you get to taste EVERYTHING!

At the beginning of week two the studio got a whole lot smaller when the Broderville Pictures film crew came in to shoot all of our fabulous technique videos. The team did an amazing job at capturing all the technical aspects of each complex dish. (You can sample some of the videos, which include instructions for pan roasting a ribeye steak, filleting a fish and poaching an egg on YouTube.)

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This cookbook shoot was an absolutely amazing experience. Being in the studio with a master chef and seeing first hand how he carefully prepares each dish was truly an inspiration. Chef Gras worked with such precision and skill that each dish came out perfect, allowing Shimon and Tammar to exercise their acute senses in capturing the essence and beauty of each dish. Although the two weeks flew by we will always have the amazing photography to remember it by. We hope you enjoy the photos and videos in Laurent Gras: My Provence e-book as much as we loved making them!

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Laurent Gras: My Provence E-Book Preview Luncheon

Chris McBride

EventGuests

After months of production and endless hours in development we are happy to announce the launch of our cooking series and our first digital cookbook Laurent Gras: My Provence. To celebrate this milestone event, we chose to share a first glimpse of the product with some of the top editors, writers and food bloggers in New York City.

We hosted our preview event at the French Consulate’s Salon Rose, which seemed to be the perfect location to honor of our first chef. It’s opulent rooms and décor complemented the traditional Provençal-themed dishes coming together in a beautiful embodiment of French culture.

Canapes
Canapes

As guests arrived atop the Consulate’s grand spiral staircase, they were greeted with a glass of Rosé and passed hors d'oeuvres and offered a demo of our first e-book, My Provence, by award-winning chef Laurent Gras.

During the cocktail hour I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with writers, editors, bloggers and New York City food enthusiasts. The Alta Editions team was on hand to give product demonstrations and gather feedback. Delicious passed hors d'oeuvres from Feasts & Fêtes were a big hit. Who can resist warm parmesan gougères and delicious salmon canapés?

After the cocktail hour, guests were ushered into the Salon Rosé for lunch. The large Renaissance-styled interior is covered in French art while a Baccarat crystal chandelier cast the room in a warm glow. An 18th Century Gobelin tapestry from the Palace of Versailles hung on the wall providing our luncheon with an elegant backdrop while the large French windows provided guests with a breathtaking view of Central Park.

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Guests dined on preparations from the cookbook including Artichoke Salad, Fresh Cod with a Potato and Olive Oil emulsion and a trio of desserts: Mocha Tart, Cherry Clafoutis and an assortment of Vanilla Rum, Coffee Whiskey and Chocolate Bourbon Pots de Crème, giving a glimpse of mouthwatering dishes found inside the eBook. The event was also highlighted by speeches from chef Gras, co-author Mitchell Davis, and Alta Editions producer, Christopher McBride. Consul General Philippe Lalliot also gave a beautiful speech expressing his excitement and pride for the new French e-book. He then introduced Laurent Gras, who shared the inspiration and foundation of much of his cooking, his hometown of Antibes and the surrounding region of Provence. “These first experiences taught me how to cook, and they also taught me how to honor the local ingredients that were the inspiration for the recipes of the Riviera. They reinforced my roots. In addition, they helped me realize that the sort of precise work cooking requires—a combination of concentration and creativity—is what I enjoy most.”

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Gras’s speech reminded us that the foundation and essence of every recipe and cookbook is the wholesome ingredients and techniques used to create them. After his speech, Gras invited co-author and Executive Vice President of the James Beard Foundation, Mitchell Davis to take the podium. Mitchell’s charismatic speech illustrated the innovation and energy that has been put into the production of this cookbook by the writers, photographers, developers and entire Alta Editions team. We were honored and moved by Mitchell’s speech and for the opportunity share this event with such an amazing and talented group of people. We are looking forward to what the future brings for both this amazing cookbook and the series, whose second edition is slated for release this fall.

Thank you everyone who shared this milestone with us!

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Introducing Alta Editions

Chris McBride

Laurent Gras: My Provence e-book cover
Laurent Gras: My Provence e-book cover

In 19th century publishing, the term alta edition was used to indicate the first edition of a book. With the launch of our new digital-only publishing group, Alta Editions, and the release of Laurent Gras: My Provence, we are excited to introduce a new kind of first edition, one designed to take advantage of important new developments in technology and, more importantly, to help people learn how to be better cooks.

While the idea of creating a digital cookbook is far from new, the Laurent Gras: My Provence e-book breaks new ground by bringing together not only the best of print cookbooks (complete with inspiring stories, quality recipes, beautiful photographs, and helpful professional tips) and digital cooking apps (instructive videos, social media sharing), but also one of the best qualities of the web: direct user interaction. Within this e-book readers are encouraged to communicate their experiences with other readers and directly with the author. Every reader has the opportunity to share notes with and be recognized by one of the world’s greatest chefs.

We designed this e-book as an HTML5 web app, which means that it's viewable through most modern web browsers. There are, of course, advantages to developing for the major e-book platforms such as the Kindle, NOOK, and iBooks; however, only working in HTML5 gave us the complete control over the layout, functionality, and reader interactivity that was critical to being able to present an innovative and unique reading experience.

Another important advantage is portability. Although the layout and user experience of this e-book was created with the iPad in mind, it’s also accessible on Macs and PCs. Versions for other platforms like smartphones, will follow. As functionality on the aforementioned e-book platforms improves, we plan to release versions for readers who prefer reading on those devices and apps.

We hope you'll join us and sign up today to experience Laurent Gras: My Provence. If you love to cook you'll find over 40 fantastic recipes that feature beautiful step-by-step photos, helpful videos and chef tips, and inspiring stories from Laurent Gras, one of the greatest chefs cooking today.

For a quick overview of how the e-book works watch our Introducing Alta Editions video.

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