Behind the Scenes of Sharon Gannon’s New Cook Book: Simple Recipes for Joy

It was a Thursday night in October, and I had about fifteen minutes to waste before teaching a class, so I was playing in the boutique at Jivamukti. All of a sudden Sharon came out of the office looking for me and asked me to take a seat on the bench. I had no idea what she could have wanted. She started telling me about the long-awaited cookbook she had been working on and that it was just about finished. All that was left to do was photography of some of the dishes featured in the book. She knew about the cookie company that I own, and the vegan cooking that I do, and wanted to know if I would like to come up to Woodstock to help prepare the food for the photos.  We would head up to Woodstock on Tuesday morning, and come back to the city on Wednesday night. My heart just about leaped out of my chest! Of course I would love to help! I just had to ask my mentor, Gayatri, if it was ok if I missed our Basics class on Wednesday night because I was in the middle of my apprenticeship and had an assignment to teach.  And then Sharon said, “Oh, you already have a commitment.  You should stay with your mentor. If I have a commitment I stick to it– I would never back out of something I already said yes to. I’ll figure something else out.” And this is true – if Sharon says yes to something, she does it! It is a true testament to this cookbook and everything else she’s ever done! And with that, the most amazing opportunity was given to me, and then taken away from me in less than 5 minutes…

I told Gayatri what happened, and of course she would have allowed me to go! But I wasn’t going to say yes to Sharon, and then ask, in the case she said no! Gayatri said she would mention something to Sharon and see if it was still a possibility. Unfortunately Sharon said she already figured something else out, and that was the end of it.  Or so I thought…

Three days later, on Sunday, I was at my friend’s baby shower when my phone started to ring. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t answer. A voicemail was left, so I decided to check it out. “Jai Sri Krishna, April, this is Sharon Gannon calling…” I almost dropped the phone, and had to listen to the voicemail a second time. I excused myself from the table and called back immediately! She said she could still use my help and she spoke to Gayatri asking if she could borrow me for a few days. Would I still like to come up to Woodstock to help out? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing (or that I was even talking to Sharon on the phone)! I said yes without a second thought – how could I say no to cooking along side Sharon! The plans changed slightly and I had to go up on Monday morning rather than Tuesday, so I left the baby shower early and spent a long night familiarizing myself with the recipes I’d be preparing.

I arrived in Woodstock Monday afternoon and met the team of people I’d be working with to help prep the food – there was a “food stylist” who would plate the food for the photos, her assistant, and myself. There was also the photography team, and a handful of other people to help out. The assistant, Anna, and I would do most of the cooking, and some by Sharon. We had a full schedule of the order of photos/recipes and started baking that night.

Over the next two days the team and I prepared about 30 different recipes – soups, appetizers, salads, main courses, desserts – anything you can imagine. I tried to help out in any way I could. Although when I tried to wash the dishes, I was told by Sharon that my job was to cook and cook only, and someone else would wash the dishes. (Fine by me – although I love to cook, washing the dishes after is not my favorite thing to do.)  Photos were taken throughout the house and the grounds outside, and although the temperature was starting to drop, the weather cooperated for the most part.

There wasn’t very much down time, but we would stop to have lunch and dinner, eating all of the food we had prepared for the photos. Sharon plated all of the food with great detail, and we would sit around the table listening to Sharon, David and Jules tell us stories about when Jivamukti first opened 30 years ago.  If I did get a break, I would spend time in the garden with David in the chilly October frost, or watch him feed the deer.

After the photo shoot, I thought my job was done, but over the next few weeks, every once in a while Sharon would email me a recipe, asking me to test it out to make sure the measurements were correct before they went to publishing. I tested recipes like her chocolate ice cream cake, pesto and cheesy dipping sauce. How could I resist! They are all so wonderful!

I spent two days with Sharon in a way I never could have imagined. It was one thing to take yoga classes with her and have her as a teacher, but to cook with her in her own kitchen was something special. She is an amazing vegan cook and takes great care with each of her recipes. For Sharon, and all true yogis, vegan food is yoga. They are one and the same, and Sharon is a great yogi. I am blessed to have been part of this project and can’t wait for the world to experience her recipes! Thank you Sharon for trusting me with them! (And to Gayatri for “lending me out” for three days.) You can pre-order Sharon’s cookbook, Simple Recipes for Joy on Amazon here:

Hari Om!

Categories: Cooking, Recipes, Vegan, Yoga | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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