Sue Z.'s Local Finds: Cookbooks To Make the Perfect Gifts

Sue Zelickson
Everyone has to eat! So this holiday season, give the gift of recipes and cooking tips for each food-lover in your life. For classicists, Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen: 50 Essential Recipes Every Cook Needs to Know ( recently released by Anne Willan, a collaborator of Julia Child’s, is a treasure and a necessity for making perfect hollandaise sauce, aioli, puff pastry, and meringues. Willan shares her experiences from more than 40 years of teaching chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and cookbook authors in her Parisian École de Cuisine La Varenne cooking school.

Locavores will love The Birchwood Café Cookbook (, 20 years of the Minneapolis cafe’s light-hearted, locally sourced recipes adapted for the home kitchen by owner Tracy Singleton and chef Marshall Paulsen with Beth Dooley. The seasonal chapters of this new tome show home cooks how to use the freshest ingredients in their cooking—and chef Paulson’s preserves and vinaigrettes will transform the simplest dishes into a spectacular plate.

If you know someone who’s thinking about eating healthier in the New Year, local chef Robin Asbell’s new book, The Whole Grain Promise (, shows you how to add more healthy whole grains—including quinoa, bulgar, and kasha—into your recipe repertoire. She has incredible main dishes and desserts that are not only tasty, but packed with nutrition. 

Sue Zelickson is the founder and director of Women Who Really Cook and Perspectives Family Center’s Kids Cafe. She is the former host of WCCO radio’s Food for Thought.


Sue Zelickson (Sue Z.) is a James Beard Award-winning food media personality, philanthropist, and longtime contributor to Minnesota Monthly and WCCO radio. She has founded the Charlie Awards, the Women Who Really Cook networking organization for women in the local food industry, and the Kids Cafe at Perspectives, Inc., which improves access to nutritious meals for families in need. You can find her buzzing around from event to event throughout the Twin Cities, helping to raise funds for charitable organizations, including some she has had a hand in building.