ASSONET, Mass. – Chuck Williams sates the appetites of cookbook readers.
Rare, old and out-of-print cookbooks appeal to collectors, chefs, home cooks, cookbook readers and families trying to find a much-loved old family recipe. Williams, owner of Eagle Trading Co., said it’s also not uncommon for families to come into his cookbook speciality store in search of a second copy of a favorite family cookbook.
Williams, who opened the Eagle Trading about 10 years ago, said he has serious cookbook collectors who are looking for the rarest of rare finds in the cookbook world: first editions of “The Joy of Cooking,” “Fannie Farmer’s Cookbook” and the one of the first recognized cookbooks, “Mrs. Beecher’s Housekeeping,” by Catherine Beecher, sister of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” author Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Yes, Williams owns all three of those rare cookbooks, though they’re stored off the premises of the store under lock and key awaiting the right buyer.
“I have serious collectors who call me and tell me what they’re looking for,” he said.
A more contemporary but rare cookbook at the store is a signed copy of “The Black Hat Chef Cookbook” by Chef Rene, published in 1988.
Chef Rene, as he is known, is one of only a few black hat chefs in the country. A black hat chef, Williams explained, is one who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu, in Paris and then prepared a dish for the queen of England and the emperor of Japan.
Unlike many booksellers today, Williams said he doesn’t sell his books though eBay or Amazon, instead preferring face-to-face contact with his customers.
“I have one lady who comes here all the way from Connecticut. She calls the store her tonic,” he said.
Other customers come in looking for the latest trends in cooking and cookbooks, including “The Swamp People” television show cookbook – Williams has a signed copy – and charcuterie, the European-style of making deli meats and smoked foods.