Cooks’ Nook Found in Look at Book Business
Ellen Rose, owner of the Cook’s Library, relies on L.A. being a “foodie” town. From chefs to housewives to kids, food lovers of all kinds visit her 3rd Street shop, which is stocked with new, used and rare cookbooks. Travels to culinary hotspots and relationships with chefs and restaurant owners keep the Dallas-born Rose on top of the industry. A former television producer, Rose quit her job to become a full time-mom, and turned her love of cookbooks into a business 13 years ago.
“I started reading cookbooks when I was 16. I came from a southern home where someone cooked for us. I never went in the kitchen, but took some of my mother’s cookbooks to bed with me at night.
“There’s something relaxing and comforting about cookbooks. They don’t bring up any anxiety. One day my daughter looked around the kitchen and joked that I had enough cookbooks to open a library. I went to UCLA to learn about running a small business and opened up the shop.
“The store has over 6,500 titles, and a third of them are rare, out-of-print books. I’m not interested in selling cookware, just cookbooks. Even though I am surrounded by four discount bookstores, people come to us because they love the staff’s knowledge and the selection.
“My manager, Tim Fischer, was a pastry chef and the other employees are also ex-chefs. When someone is looking for a particular recipe we all get up to help. At least one of us is familiar with every one of the books in the store.
“I visit France and England often to buy books. We talk with chefs and restaurants all over the world and if there is one particular chef that everyone is talking about, I make sure to stay on top of that. My manager takes care of the day-to-day operations and I spend my time tracking down these esoteric, wonderful books.
“I’m not interested in expanding. It’s a specialty store and that’s how I’ve stayed alive. There are only two like it in the country. The one is in New York is only for professionals. But we have immense patience with everyone.”