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The How Not to Cookbook, cover

The How Not To Cook Book—Lessons learned the hard way ,is an art project in the format of a limited edition book. While the typical cookbook gives you a recipe for obvious success, it does not take into account the many ways in which its execution can fail due to the cook’s lack of experience. Based on my own personal history of cooking disasters, the project invites 1000 people from all around the world to give their advice of how NOT to cook: any reader will then be more than well equipped to avoid making the same mistakes in their kitchen.

I am interested in how we are taught or teach ourselves through trial and error. By making our guilty failures public we may be creating an original and subversive form of art, rather than simply aspiring to obvious and repetitive results. The act of gathering the information (through a public call, website and personal interviews), the editorial, design, printing process and the final redistribution are all equally important parts of the project.

The book gathers the experiences of many people from many places, weaving local and historical specificity, personal touches and mixed range sensibilities into one coherent piece of work with an open ended outcome. The wider readership is free to interpret the ‘advice’ as they wish. Someone will always be more familiar with Sicilian cuisine; someone else will never have been confronted with haggis before. This makes the work resonate differently for everyone. I am always working with printed matter—small press publications and public art projects where the public is a big concern.”

The How Not To Cookbook is published by the Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, August 2009. To contribute your story go to www.collective.net