by Laurie Ann Burton
Once recipes passed the taste test of the committee, we started to shape our menus. We started with our “dream menus” and then allowed them to morph as recipes came along that fit those menus or changed them. For example, as our “ethnic menu” options grew, it became two menus – one Greek and one Cuban.
Menu shaping was also an intersection of our three pillars. The menus needed to be reflective of our concept. The recipes on the menus needed to make logical sense, be beautiful to photograph and share some values that would tie into our non-recipe text. The non-recipe text was our chance to tell about life on the Gulf, what is important to us as a community, and why the recipes or menus are part of life here. Some of the text shares historic background, some offers suggestions of where to take a picnic and some explains the ethnic heritage of our area.
The menus were kept very broad with many options until we were ready for photographs. Some of the final menu choices were made not by our committee, but by our food stylist, Kristie Salzer. She ultimately decided what would be in the photo and then the menu was sealed!
In addition to the menu text, other non-recipe text includes the head notes with each recipe and the sidebars throughout the book. This text offers insight to recipes (i.e. freezes great), tips on handling local products (i.e. best method to squeeze a lemon) and general local knowledge (i.e. Plant City Strawberry Festival).