Brandon et al-SpongeDiver, credit-Diana Zalucky
From left: Heather McPherson, Katie Farmand, and Pam Brandon. Credit: Diana Zalucky.

If you’re in Orlando, Florida, meet the authors of Good Catch TONIGHT at the book’s launch party! Come to The APEX at the East End Market (3201 Corrine Drive) between 7:00pm and 9:00pm. Join the authors for craft cocktails, Rioja wine and tastes from Good Catch! The event is free and open to the public.

Get ready for the event with our Q&A with authors Pam Brandon, Katie Farmand, and Heather McPherson. Veteran food journalists, their Florida farm-to-table cookbook Field to Feast won Best Local Cuisine Book in the USA in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and Best Locavore Love in Orlando Weekly’s Best of Orlando Awards. Today they tell us about their newest adventure, Good Catch: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida’s Waters. In this book, the authors explore Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams, and springs and share the delicious bounty of the state’s countless waterways.

“[Fishermen] know as much about the ocean as farmers do about their land; they care deeply about the sea life they catch and they respect the ocean and other waterways.”

Your first cookbook, Field to Feast, has been extremely well received. How did that inspire you to follow it up with a seafood cookbook?

We actually started thinking of the idea for this book AS we worked on Field to Feast. We started adding local seafood to the book as its own chapter and realized that it was more than a chapter; it was a book in itself. As far as being inspired by the first book, we knew the stories were just as beloved as the recipes so we knew we needed to tell more stories about the people and places that give us incredible seafood in the Sunshine State.

Good_Catch_RGB
Launch party TONIGHT, Oct 29!

You traveled all around Florida to find these stories and recipes. How did you know where to go and who to interview?

We asked our friends and family. Of course, we visited historic and well-loved places that most Floridians know, but we also sought out lesser-known restaurants, locations, and personalities. Our Floridian friends were a great resource, directing us to some locales we’d never visited before.

After all the interviews, what was the most fascinating thing you learned about seafood and the people who catch it?

The one thing that struck us as the most poignant, especially after our work on Field to Feast, was the comparison of fishermen to famers of the sea. They know as much about the ocean as farmers do about their land; they care deeply about the sea life they catch and they respect the ocean and other waterways and what they provide us.

Red snapper
Credit: Diana Zalucky

Tell us about a new activity you got to try while gathering material for Good Catch.

Pam tried scalloping, Heather tasted Florida caviar for the first time, and we all tasted Florida-made bottarga for the first time.

How did you select which recipes to include in Good Catch?

We aimed to touch on all of the most commonly found fish and shellfish as well as a selection of lesser-known Florida seafood. With that in mind, we included recipes that best showcase the flavor and texture of each type of seafood.

For beginner chefs looking for a basic, simple meal to ease into seafood cooking, which recipes would you suggest?

Our sautéed shrimp and feta is super simple, crowd-pleasing and a showstopper. We also encourage anyone who has never cooked a fish whole to try it; while it seems daunting, it’s actually really easy, gratifying, and pretty tough to screw it up. It can be flavored in a ton of different ways, as well.

What culinary project are you working on next?

We are exploring several different new cookbook ideas.

You’re veteran authors with a brand new second book—quite an accomplishment. If you could give any advice to budding cookbook authors out there, what would it be?

Write your favorite recipes down as you make them, or gather those you make time and again, and start there. What stands out about the recipes? Do you notice an overarching theme about them? That may be the premise of your cookbook.

Credit: Diana Zalucky
Credit: Diana Zalucky
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