Exeter graduates Ralph Miller and Joe Inniss have combined their passion for food and hip hop music to create this fun cookbook. Filled with a huge range of fantastic illustrations, puns galore and excellent recipes, it’s an ideal gift for any and everyone going to university. For example, how could you resist the sound of “Wu Tang Clam Chowder”, or cooking up some “Ludacrispy Duck”? Quirkiness aside, it’s a great little book. It’s beautifully presented with clever little aspects like “Beats Per Minute” to indicate how long it’ll take to cook and prepare the dish, as well as a QR code at the back which will link you to a Spotify playlist. Compiled with the artists mentioned in the book, you can cook whilst getting down in the kitchen. We caught up with Ralph Miller to chat about the inspiration and process behind the book.
How did you come up with the idea?
When we were students at Exeter, Joe and I had our own show on Xpression FM called the ‘Ralph and Joe show’. We played a wide range of music, like electronic, dance, pop, and of course hip hop. We’re both foodies and love cooking, so we would have a laugh making up food puns. This became an ongoing joke on our show and amongst our friends. When we left university, we realised we could actually do something with this idea.
How did the book come together and get published?
The idea began as a ‘Hip-Hop Café’, which was was the original title for the book, but this had to be changed when it came to being published. We approached multiple publishers, before it eventually got picked up by a Swedish company. As a result of being taken up by an international company, we had to edit or take out some of the titles, since having minor artists only known in the UK wouldn’t work as well.
How did the recipes come together?
We designed all the recipes ourselves. Some recipes were more traditional and didn’t require much adjustment, for example the “Tiramisu Elliot”, but some required us to be a bit more adventurous and we had to experiment with different ingredients, proportions and methods. We thought about different ways of making Sea Bass for example, which uses a method of covering the fish in salt and then removing it. We had to test this out, and see what we could bring to this recipe. When it came to publishing it took a while to get specific measures and amounts right, and the process of altering and changing these minor but important details was a long process!
How do the music elements link with the book?
Inspiration came from the songs – some albums and tracks are based on food, so there is a genuine connection there. We’ve included some of the music which inspired us; a QR code that links to a Spotify playlist can be found at the back, called the ‘Rapper’s Delight Mixtape’.
What’s your favourite artwork piece?
That has to be “Tiramisu Elliott”. At our launch party we had some of the artwork blown up to hang on the walls – which I now have and it’s hanging up in my flat in London. The artwork is a really important part of the book. We asked 30 different artists and designers to contribute, several of which were friends, and it’s been great to be able to include their pieces in the book.
Was the book produced with students in mind?
Some of the recipes I cooked as a student – hangover meals like “DM Eggs Benedict” and “MC Ham’n’Eggs”. We’re hoping that people with an interest in hip-hop or rap music might pick up the book and flick through the puns and artwork – and maybe try out a recipe here and there. And those who love cooking and food might get into rap music. It works both ways!
How successful has it been so far?
It was released in September and it’s hard to get sales figures as stores order a lot in one go as stock, but we’ve had around 300 in various Waterstone’s stores (including the Exeter ones) and it’s available on Amazon. We got some great reviews from several papers, and it seems to be doing well. We wanted to keep the book as cheap as possible, whilst keeping it fun and entertaining.
Any future plans?
We have thought about doing a ‘rock’ or ‘indie’ version. However, creating this book took so much time and we’re always busy in our full time jobs! I work for BBC News and Joe is an engineer at Network Rail. It would be great to create a series and make more books, but we’ll have to see how it goes.
For more information, check out their website here
Christy Ku, Online Books Editor and Rachel Gelormini, Online News Editor
With contribution from Lewis Davis-Norman, Online Music Editorbookmark me