Spotlight on Cookbook Collectors: Interview with Daniel Hooberry

Spotlight on Cookbook Collectors is a Cookbook Village interview series with passionate collectors. This week, we were fortunate to interview Daniel Hooberry, chef/owner of Bistro 1876 in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Daniel is a culinary historian and offers historical cooking instruction and catering. His specialty is the Victorian era. Here in our interview, Daniel shares some of his insights with our readers and customers. 

How did you start out collecting cookbooks? 

I didn't originally start out collecting cookbooks. I had changed professions to do something that I enjoyed doing, and attended culinary school. After attending school, I grew more interested in the knowledge provided in books, and picked up more and more of them along with receiving them as gifts. 

How many books do you have in your collection? 

I have approximately 1,100 books in my collection, and it's still growing. 

What is your cookbook specialization (do you collect a particular category or genre of cookbooks)? 

I collect all sorts of books according to how they appeal to me. The books that I collect the most now are from the 1300's to the 1910, most are from the Victorian era. The earlier cookbooks are e-books, as to there are only a few of the printed books in existence. Some of the digital books were translated to English. Others I have to translate myself in order to use them. 

Do you collect cookbooks to cook or to look? 

I collect to use them and to learn and conduct research. 

What is the most valuable cookbook in your collection and how much is its estimated value? 

The ones that are the most valuable to me are Mrs. Beeton's Household Management printed 1893 and a first printing of The Epicurean. I have several others, but I do not keep up with the individual value as I do not plan to sell them. 

What is your favorite collectible cookbook from your collection and why? 

My favorite is Mrs. Beeton's Household Management that shows how a house should be run in the late 1800's. From cooking and ingredients all the way down to how to take care of the sick and watch over the house. 

Tell us about the best bargain you ever made for one of your cookbooks and where you found it (e.g., I found a Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking at a garage sale in my neighborhood for $2.50. I took it home and opened it up to discover her signature staring back at me). 

My best bargain was for an early printing of Larousse Gastronomique that I bought on eBay in a collection of roughly 20 cookbooks for $12. 

Is there a cookbook title you are seeking but haven't found yet? If so, what is the title and author and what makes it special? 

There are quite a few. The one that I would like to find at a good price is a cookbook called The Grocer's Encyclopedia. It was compiled by Artemas Ward, the former editor of The National Grocer, printed in 1911. 

How do you display and organize your collection (on shelves alphabetically, by certain categories, dates, etc.)? 

I keep my books in my office. I am in the process of getting new shelves to be able to organize them better by age and content. 

Do you have any advice for someone interested in getting started with cookbook collecting? 

Figure out the cookbook niche that you are the most interested in. There are so many books to distract you from the focus of your collection. Be careful or your funds for collecting will be eaten up by books that are not of the type you have defined in your niche. 


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About Daniel Hooberry and Bistro 1876

Daniel Hooberry is the Chef/Owner of Bistro 1876 in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Bistro 1876 offers culinary lessons, historical cooking instruction, and catering for events, romantic dinners, and food enthusiasts desiring Victorian style cooking today. You can reach Bistro 1876 at (615) 569-3651 or by e-mail: Visit the Bistro 1876 Facebook page for more information.