a few of my favorite things
Punning, fiction reading, thrifting/antiquing, the beach, cooking with my daughters & granddaughter, entertaining, gardening
“My professional goal is to lead a full-service agency dedicated to identifying, designing, and negotiating opportunities across the entire culinary and publishing industries. My personal goal is to educate, inspire, encourage and learn about the joys of cooking, writing, and pleasurable healthy eating and living.”
Lisa Ekus is a quintessential entrepreneur who knows a thing or two about ingredients—both food and business. Hailed as the “best in the business” by the New York Times, Lisa is someone who not just created a business, but invented a category. In 1982, she started the first public relations agency devoted to publicizing cookbooks, chefs, and food products.
It all started with Lisa’s internship at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency in New York (while a student at Barnard College), followed by several publicity positions at leading publishers, including Random House and Crown Publishers. But really, it started before then, as she cooked with her mother, creating meals and family memories around food (experience she later put to use when preparing three meals a day for more than 120 people on a kibbutz in Israel).
Then came the cookbooks. And more cookbooks. By the time Lisa moved with her family to Hatfield, Massachusetts (almost 40 years ago) she had amassed towering boxes of books, enough to later design and build a two-story library that now boasts approximately 10,000 books, about 8,000 of which are — you guessed it — cookbooks. The library is the centerpiece of her 250-year-old renovated farmhouse. In an attached barn-turned-office, renovated in 1992, where the company continues to carry on its core business areas of culinary and book consulting, media training, talent/spokesperson partnerships, and literary agenting. They regularly offer virtual workshops in the various areas of their expertise. Food has remained the primary business focus, with the company also expanding to include complementary areas such as health, nutrition, wellness, and women’s topics.
In 2000, Lisa began the Literary Agenting division and has since negotiated more than 400 book deals with publishers around the globe.
The last decade has seen expanded media training services, increased talent and culinary partnerships and influencer spokesperson opportunities, publishing consulting, and an ever-expanding literary agenting business.
In her 40-plus years in the culinary industry, Lisa has cooked dinner for Julia Child, media trained Emeril Lagasse, cemented book deals for more than 400 authors, created culinary partnerships with leading manufacturers, and represented many award-winning, nationally recognized restaurants.
Lisa has two smart, beautiful daughters; wined, dined, traveled, and shared a life with family and friends; and contributed countless hours to charities such as The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and numerous local charities, all the while keeping a business evolving, thriving, and succeeding.
Lisa has prepped culinary professionals for stardom and helped turned unknown writers into prominent cookbook authors. Over the years, she has written restaurant reviews, attended food events and conferences around the world, coordinated book tours and publicity tie-ins, matched food experts and influencers with corporations, and conducted numerous seminars and presentations. She has hosted hundreds of events in her home, including fundraisers, chef introductions to media, client gatherings, staff soirees, and author retreats. She has been regularly interviewed by the media, was given awards by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and the American Marketing Association, and has been a board member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, IACP, and The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as well as being a top fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She is currently a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Advisory Board, promoting sustainable seafood and fishing practices.
Whether helping established chefs or rising food writers make their mark on the culinary landscape, the common denominator in Lisa’s career has been giving people the tools they need to follow their passion. How does she do it? She follows her passion and maintains a personal mission to educate, inspire, encourage, guide, and promote the joys of cooking, writing, and healthful eating and living.
Four decades in the business is a statement that small ideas and big dreams can lead to even bigger accomplishments. Small companies can spring up in a barn that once rested on a potato field and somehow impact a world of culinary talent. Take several ingredients, put them in a pot, and let simmer… the results are delicious indeed.
In her not-so-spare time she loves antiquing, traveling, cooking and reads fiction voraciously.
Want to take our virtual How To Write a Cookbook workshop with Sally and Lisa? Click here for details!