A day in the life of

Éric Treuille of
Books for Cooks

Written and photgraphed
by Mónica R. Goya

    It is midday, and a delightful homey aroma comes out of Books for Cooks, a cookbook shop founded in Notting Hill in 1983 where recipe books come to life daily in their test kitchen.

Éric Treuille was a young chef when he began to visit the shop as a customer in the early 90s.

His interest in the then shop assistant, Rosie, who later would become his wife, together with his love for cookbooks kept dragging him to the shop. Éric has been working at Books for Cooks for over twenty years and we ask him to share with us a day in his life as a bookseller.

‘will I buy it? If not, then I don’t stock it’

Éric is one of those scarce Londoners who walks to work. By the time he opens Cooks for Books at 10am he has already gone swimming and has visited the nearby market to do the groceries for the recipe of the day. “We start cooking at 8am and when we open we have the first customers who come for tea and cakes, then at 12pm we serve lunch, we usually have 30 or 35 people” explains Éric, and adds “we put the menu on the board and what we cook is what you have, you can’t choose”.

Even if he remarks that his job is to sell cookbooks, not to feed people, their test kitchen is the soul of the bookshop and according to Éric, the secret to their success.

He runs the kitchen together with Lulu, and they usually choose the recipe for the next day the afternoon before. “When people come and have lunch here, I want to make sure that they will remember it, nothing is better than entertaining around the table”.

He admits that one of the most exciting things about working at a specialist bookshop like theirs is that “every day is different, you never know who is going to come in, but our clients know where they are coming, they come because of the cookbooks and that means we already have something in common”.

When the couple bought the shop from the founder, Heidi Lascelles, who retired in 2001, the business was completely different. “Out of print, self-published books… that’s where my business is now, trade has changed with the Internet” says the bookseller, who has an infallible formula to discern if he should stock a book or not: “will I buy it? If not, then I don’t stock it”. Around 50% of their customers are regulars, some of them even pop in every day, “to sell books now you really need to work, it is challenging, you need to sell the right product to the right person, if you do it well, it will happen again”.

Every day Éric finishes his working day with shopkeeping tasks, “I am a bit OCD about it, I love sweeping the floor and tidying up the shelves, a bookshop is an amazing place when there is nobody, and you are alone with your books” he concludes.

Books for Cooks
4 Blenheim Cres,
Notting Hill,
London W11 1NN