Monday, July 18, 2016

EAT LIKE A GILMORE: Kristi Carlson Talks About Her Gilmore Girls-Inspired Cookbook!

If you haven't watched Gilmore Girls, you should. It's one of the smartest, funniest and most endearing comedy/dramas out there. The hit televsion show centers on the life experiences of Lorelai Gilmore, a fiercely independent single mother of educationally gifted Rory, and their lives in and around Stars Hollow - the cutest, most Mayberry-esque town on planet earth. I personally love the show because the characters are diverse, interesting and well developed. It's also among the most intelligent comedy/dramas out there. It's smart writing, smart acting and smart story premises. And who doesn't love Luke Danes from the diner? Or Emily Gilmore's Friday night dinners? 

Kristi: Picture used with author's permission
Kristi Carlson must have had those same questions, because she wrote an entire cookbook about it. The book, entitled Eat Like A Gilmore, is a guide to the cuisine of Stars Hollow, with recipes inspired by characters like Sookie St. James and Luke Danes. Kristi has been getting some pretty cool press for her book, too. People Magazine says "It’ll bring you just a little bit closer to your dream of watching TV and eating pizza on the couch with Lorelai and Rory.” How cool is that? If you're a super fan of the show *like me* then this is a dream come true. I'll be one of the first in line to buy the book, which is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Even more exciting? As it is now widely known, Gilmore Girls will be making a return to Netflix for several revival episodes. (I'm personally rooting for some vindication for season 7, and if you've watched the show, you know what I'm talking about!)

Kristi took some time to chat with me about her cookbook, her inspiration, and how the fast-talking, witty and spirited world of Lorelai Gilmore influenced Eat Like A Gilmore.

Interview with Kristi Carlson

Summer Lane: I'm a huge fan of Gilmore Girls. One of my friends got me into the show and I'm obsessed with all things Stars Hollow and Luke Danes! How/when did you come up with the inspiration for this cookbook? 

Well, starting from the early days of watching Season 1 - it was clear FOOD was a major player in the show - as two of the main characters are cooks/chefs. Then right out of the gate they added in the obligatory Friday Night Dinners and suddenly food had a starring role. It's tantalizing - hearing about how delicious something is over and over again. So I've been wanting to get my hands on all of these recipes for fifteen years - I kept waiting for a cookbook to come out. It never did. Then last summer I needed a creative outlet and my boyfriend suggested I try to create recipes for the foods from the show - that suggestion lit the pilot light for this whole thing.

Second season dvd cover
SL: I came across your kickstarter for the cookbook. What inspired you to bring your creative idea to the public, and how did it turn out? 

Once I decided to move forward and create the recipes myself, I started thinking - "Hey, there are probably other fans out there who would like these, too. I'll start a blog." But then my list of recipes kept growing and growing....until it was more than 50 recipes long. Once I started thinking in terms of 50+ recipes, I realized I, myself, didn't want to pull recipes off a blog to make these dishes. I wanted something concrete. I wanted a place where I could keep all of the recipes together, organized, and looking fun & Gilmore-ish. Turning it in a book was the only answer. Then I wondered how many others would want the same book - so I launched the Kickstarter as a means to put feelers out. I was hoping there would be some folks out there like me, but I wasn't fully prepared for just how many people have been waiting for and wanting this book - it's amazing! 

SL: You've been getting some pretty awesome press lately! How does that feel? 

It feels great! I remember back many years ago - Season Two or Season 3 - I was standing in line at the market and saw "The Best Show You're Not Watching" was the cover story on one of the magazines - it was a story about Gilmore Girls. I remember during that entire 7 year run of the show - it never seemed like it was as popular as it should have been - it didn't feel to me like it was getting its due.  So now - to see all of these people so excited about this book...about the revival...about Lauren Graham's new makes me so happy.  The show IS getting its due - finally!  
But, seeing my name in these press articles - and feeling the excitement from all of these fans - it's a little overwhelming. Somewhere in my head, I knew it was a possibility, but I wasn't really prepared for it. It has both scared me and boosted me up. So many people have sent me heart-felt notes of encouragement and gratitude - it's been very enriching. I've kept all of those people in mind as I've worked on this book.  I'm not so much doing this for myself anymore. Now I'm doing it for them.

Rights belong to Entertainment Weekly
SL: What's your favorite dish from your Stars Hollow-inspired collection of recipes? 

Oh gosh - that's very hard to say. The writers for the show really knew their food! I guess it depends on what I'm in the mood for at the minute.  At this minute, I'm in the mood for Pot Roast with Roasted Potatoes and gravy and some delicious rolls, fresh from the oven.  Yesterday I was all about cake; Chocolate Praline Crunch Cake, to be exact!  Most days I could go for a great Cheeseburger, or even a Turkey Burger. 

The part that's been most fun has been bringing these foods to life.  Many of them were never even seen on the screen - they were only mentioned or described.  So making things like Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes from Friday Night Dinner and Sookie's Muffin Bottom Pie - seeing and tasting them for the first time has been an incredible experience!

SL: How did you organize the cookbook? Were there any episodes in particular that inspired a recipe? 

The book is organized into 9 chapters plus a 2 "featured" sections - "Coffee" and "Speciality Cakes".  The whole thing kicks off talking about coffee - which seems appropriate. 
Recipe ideas were pulled from a few sources - from my own personal wish list, plus requests from the folks who backed the Kickstarter, plus the more iconic dishes the show is known for.  I organized them in traditional chapters - like drinks, breakfast, desserts, etc. But each recipe will have an icon attributing it to Sookie, Luke or Emily's staff.  The recipes are written with that in mind - Luke's recipes are more basic, Emily's use only the finest ingredients and Sookie's are more detailed. The recipes which don't fall under any of those categories are designated as "Town Favorites" - there are some really fun recipes with that distinction - Founders Day Punch, Chicken Chow Mein Sandwich, Paella - great stuff!

SL: If you could eat a meal cooked by Sookie or Luke, whose meal would you choose?
Personally, I would choose Sookie - just to see what unique thing she'd create for me.  I think it would also be fun to watch her make it - to see her techniques. 
Is it weird to have a fictional culinary hero?  

SL: By extension, who is your favorite character and why? 

Of course, I love them all - the entire ensemble, together, is what brings the magic to the watching experience! Lorelai is the character I relate to most closely - her relationship with her parents, the way she perfectly blends being responsible with being totally nutty, her career - each aspect resonates with me in my own life.  She was the first TV character I could personally relate to - and she showed me it's okay to aggressively guard my right to be who I am, rather than become the person others think I "should" be. 

Revival poster promo. Check out Netflix, guys!
SL: Are you excited about the revival episodes releasing this fall (I know I am!)? 
Heck yeah! I am thrilled! When I started this cookbook thing, I didn't even know the revival was a possibility. Having the buzz of these new episodes going on during the development of the book has been exhilarating.  It's made the whole thing far more fun. 

I'm a purist, though.  I don't want to know any spoilers - I don't want to see photos from the new episodes, or hear storylines or even speculation.  Once the first episode comes out - I just want to sit on my sofa and take it all in, like I did the original series. 

I need a creepy button - "I do not want to know any GG Revival Spoilers".

SL: Where can people pre-order your cookbook? (I'm definitely buying myself a copy!) 

Aw - great! Thank you. 
Folks can preorder at

SL: Why do you think Gilmore Girls is so incredibly beloved by people around the world?

Wow - for so many reasons!  I think it's a very well-made show - attention was paid to details - some of which even may not have been important for the story, but someone behind the scenes recognized they'd be important for the fans to feel the show - to feel like they were part of the town. The story is light - even though sometimes negative things happened, overall, Stars Hollow is a soothing, comfortable place to be. People are real there - quirky, supportive, nosy, and helpful. There isn't anything commercial or superficial about the town - I think people find that refreshing.
To me the aspect that makes this show stand out is its strong, female characters - from Lorelai and Rory to Emily, Paris, Sookie, Lane, and even Liz, Miss Patty, and Babette - each one is authentically herself. Each character's darker traits blend with her positive traits to create a fully-formed person. For this reason, I think the show is very empowering for women. So it's no surprise the majority of the fans are female! 

SL: Thank you so very much for visiting with us, Kristi. So excited for the release of the cookbook - I know I'll be one of the first in line! 

Thanks for your interest in the book, Summer - it's been great talking with you.

Don't forget to pre-order Kristi's rockin' cookbook right here (projected October 25th release!) - it's a cookbook that might even impress Emily Gilmore herself! Pre-Order Link

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Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!