16 | SPOTLIGHT VILLAGE LIFE ■ AUGUST 11, 2010
The Arts columnist
When El Dorado Hills resident Laura Denktash was laid off from her job as a quality control manager in March 2009, it was a seminal moment. “While on the one hand my supervisors were going over lists of paperwork during my exit interview, my mind was racing over another list. I could see over 200 things I could now do, because now I had time,” she said. “I was actually excited.”
Not the typical response of someone facing a reduction in force at work. Let’s rewind the clock three more years to 2006 —Denktash, a San Francisco native and Bay Area resident at the time, enjoyed traveling to Auburn every month to take weekend gardening classes at the now-defunct Dry Creek Herb Farm.
“One weekend the focus was on roses,” she said. “One woman in the class celebrated by bringing homemade rose ice cream. It was delicious. And that’s when an inspiration hit: Why not write a cookbook of rose recipes?”
The quest began to write “The Rose Cookbook: A Treasury of Rose Recipes from Around the World.” But there were some challenges. A busy life — that included a move to El Dorado Hills — was getting in the way. She had also started volunteering at the Grace Foundation, which rescues abused and neglected horses. She thought about putting together a cookbook for the organization, but had to put the project on the backburner when challenges arose.
“I was working full time, and I would start a project and then stop,” Denktash said. “I would get discouraged. I would think, ‘You’ve never written a book before. Why write one at all? All the books have already been written.’ I was getting frustrated. I felt that this project was blocking me. I had to take some kind of action.”
In January 2007 she made a New Year’s resolution to complete her first cookbook. Soon, the writing was complete and she self-published the book. With the experience came another inspiration. “I realized that I was having so much fun writing cookbooks, but there really needed to be a ‘cookbook coach’ to help writers,” she said.
“I learned a lot about what to do — and what not to do — in the process of writing my first cookbook. I realized I want to help other people to do this, too.”
To help her progress in this new venture, Denktash studied marketing and hired a consultant, Carl Logrecco. One completed idea led to another, and soon Denktash had a remarkable list of accomplishments — the results of a focused, dedicated effort that is really more fun for her than work.
Today Denktash is a world-renowned cookbook author and publisher. She is the founder and publisher of Balanced Rock Press in El Dorado Hills. She is the founder of the International Association of Cookbook Writers. She has published cookbooks for New York chefs and authors in Sweden (and has another in the works with an author who lives in Nepal).
Denktash has even been invited to be a contributor to next year’s Paris Cookbook Fair by none other than Edouard Cointreau, the founder and president of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in France. (Yes, that is the Cointreau whose paternal family brought the world the famous Cointreau liqueur, and whose maternal family also brought us the Cognacs Frapin and Rémy Martin).
Denktash wants to put together a compilation cookbook of favorite recipes of El Dorado Hills residents: “The El Dorado Hills Cookbook.” Ten percent of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to benefit the Grace Foundation.
“Anyone who lives, works or owns a business in El Dorado Hills, please participate,” she said. “‘The El Dorado Hills Cookbook’ will give you the opportunity to have one or more of your favorite recipes published in a high-quality book. And with a lot less work on your part than what is normally required to write and publish a complete cookbook.”
For those who may not be familiar with compilation cookbooks, there is a fee for contributing.
“The fee covers the production costs of editing and printing,” Denktash said. “For someone with a business, it’s like an advertising fee paid to a newspaper or magazine to promote your business, only the book lasts much longer, and is not discarded in the recycle bin.”
Interested parties can learn more by visiting eldoradohillscookbook.com.
Thinking back on that eventful day when she was laidoff from work, Denktash realizes the event was really a blessing in disguise.“I realized that this was God’s way of freeing me to do what I was meant to do,” she said. “I wasn’t happy before, and now I feel as if I will never have to work again in my life – because I love what I am doing.”
What has this quality-control-manager-turned-entrepreneur learned from her journey?
“I’ve learned several things,” Denktash said. “First, the key to success is to ‘implement and take action’ on your dream.
The second thing I learned was this: Take ‘imperfect action.’ Don’t wait for things to be perfect. Just take action and adjust your course as you go. If you take action, you’ll get action.
“Follow your dreams and don’t give up,” she said. “Stay true to your heart.”
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