Thanks to Gwendolyn Richards of The Calgary Herald for sharing this news with everyone!
The conversation is lively and punctuated with laughter, just as it should be when friends gather over food. Though it is more than sharing stories happening between the six women. Over that coffee table, a legacy is being passed as the original ladies who formed the Best of Bridge welcome the women who are set to breathe new life into the iconic brand.
Down to just four from the original eight who came up with the Best of Bridge cookbooks some 40 years ago that would become a publishing phenomenon with millions of books sold, the ladies are ready to fully retire and hand over the brand they so carefully built — publishing, touring and selling those books themselves — to the next generation of families. Now, a new group of food writer friends will pick up the mantle as Calgary’s Julie Van Rosendaal and Elizabeth Chorney-Booth and Vernon’s Sue Duncan have been named to carry on writing and creating cookbooks in the Best of Bridge name.
“The essence of Bridge is a group of friends,” says Van Rosendaal.
It’s a move Mary Halpen, Val Robinson, Helen Miles and Joan Wilson have been working toward for several years now, starting in 2008 when publisher Robert Rose licensed the Best of Bridge name and asked if the group knew anyone who might be interested in carrying it on.
Their first thought was Van Rosendaal.
“Julie is the best new idea we’ve had since 2008,” says Miles. “She will breathe new life into the brands. It’ll be good for it.”
They’d met the food writer and CBC columnist years earlier when she asked to meet them to learn more about the world of book publishing. She showed up at the appointment with cookies.
“My mother brought me up on Best of Bridge,” Van Rosendaal says. “It is what people grew up with.”
But, she says, the brand needs new faces to connect Best of Bridge to a new generation of home cooks. “It couldn’t be one person taking over the brand; the whole essence is a group of friends cooking together.”
Through conversations with Robert Rose, Chorney-Booth and Duncan were added to the fold.
For Chorney-Booth, the chance to carry on the Best of Bridge name is an honour. She also grew up on the recipes those eight women created and still enjoys them when her mother and mother-in-law pull out their worn, original versions of the cookbooks.
“I still, no word of a lie, use a lot of their recipes, a lot of the time,” she says.
Since Robert Rose licensed it, a few books have been published under the Best of Bridge name — mostly compilations of recipes from their other books with a few new recipes thrown in. The missing ingredient in those, though, was they lacked a connection between the women and the name they created.
“The pull of Best of Bridge is the ladies. It’s a well-known story among the original generation,” says Chorney-Booth. “In the last few books, there hasn’t been that group of friends behind it. Bringing together new recipe developers who are friends and enjoy cooking, the brand needs that for it to be true to what the original women put together.”
There will be a transition book that comes out this fall, but the one set to be released in the fall of 2016 will be by the new trio under the Best of Bridge name. Their focus will be to build on the name the Best of Bridge ladies created and write books and recipes that are more reflective of the books from days gone by.
“It’s a chance to rebuild a recognizable brand,” says Van Rosendaal.