Life List: Cookbook Author
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Life List: Cookbook Author

Write it down. Make it happen. Live your dream. Domenica Marchetti's life list.

Domenica Marchetti
Alexandria, Virginia
Age 46
Married, 2 kids, cookbook author

My Goals
Write a cookbook
Serve like Serena Williams
Buy an Italian villa

The Essentials
Le Creuset Dutch oven
Trip to Italy
Really good olive oil

My Plan

All of my earliest memories are of my mom in the kitchen. She's Italian and food was at the center of our life. She made homemade pasta on Sundays, and I spent a lot of time watching her cook.

To her cooking was a joy, and she passed that on to me. When I was older I would read cookbooks and think, "Oh, what a wonderful thing it must be to write one of these!" But I decided that people like Julia Child write cookbooks, not folks like me.

When I started working I got a job at a newspaper, but I was always impatient to get home and cook. After my kids were born I decided to try freelance writing. I'm not a networker by nature, but in 2004 I went to a food writers' symposium and made myself sit next to the cookbook editor at Chronicle Books. I struck up a conversation and, incredibly, he told me to send him a proposal. I had no clue how to write one, so I asked an author I met there to teach me. I focused on Italian soups and stews because those are the comfort foods that are a part of my family's heritage. The editor loved the proposal and I got a contract.

The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy was published in the fall of 2006. My favorite recipe is my mom's pot roast.

What I Learned

I left my job to spend time with my kids, and that change opened the door for me. I'm not a self-confident person but I did what I needed to do to sell my book. I reinvented myself as a cooking teacher, doing demonstrations at my local Williams-Sonoma. Who knew how difficult it is to cook and chat at the same time? You have to be engaging -- you can't say "saute the onions in butter" and leave it at that. I learned that when you put yourself out there, you can surprise yourself. And my friends have been great. My neighbor now says, "When you get an invitation to dinner at Domenica's, you drop everything and go."


Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, March 2009.