Founder of 41-Year-Old Literary and Talent Agency Wins Guinness Book of World Records Award for Largest Personal Cookbook Collection in the World for her Culinary Library
For Immediate Release
April 5, 2023 (Hatfield, MA) Coinciding with the 41st anniversary of their full-service culinary agency, The Ekus Group, and the retirement of Founder Lisa Ekus, is the announcement that she has been awarded the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest personal cookbook collection in the world, with 4,239 titles. Housed in a two-story, 18×36 addition in her 250-year-old renovated farmhouse in Hatfield, MA, Ekus specifically designed and built this room for her cookbooks. She has been collecting cookbooks since college and took three years to build the space with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. “This room feeds my soul”, says Ekus. “It is a living, breathing collection of food and culture, and the people who cook it. I love nothing more than to hold a book in my hands, learn about a cuisine and take that inspiration into the kitchen to cook!”
Ekus launched the first and only specialized culinary book PR agency in the country in 1982. As her clientele grew, Lisa transitioned the company to a full-service culinary agency offering literary agenting, media training specifically for chefs and cookbook authors, and a Talent division, negotiating brand partnerships for her clients. In April of 2022 the agency launched a self-paced How to Write a Cookbook on-line course.
Along with the hundreds of books and authors that have passed through the agency, Lisa has archived over 6,000 cookbooks including books of food writings, self-published titles, spiral bound regional books, and hundreds of examples of culinary ephemera. Cataloged on-line and meticulously shelved, the Ekus library serves as a reference resource for her clients and authors, as well as a hospitality space for local community events. And, most of all, for the frequent gathering of Ekus’ friends and family in this special room.
Many of the books in the collection found their start in conversations with Lisa over her many years of cookbook PR and literary representation. She has welcomed chefs and cookbook authors from around the globe to her kitchen and table. On her shelves sit culinary luminaries’ shoulder to shoulder: Rose Levy Beranbaum, Raghavan Iyer, David Joachim, Kevin Gillespie, Marcella Hazan, Patricia Wells, Nava Atlas, Todd Richards, Irena Chalmers, Anne Willan, Susanna Foo, Ana Sortun and Padma Lakshmi, among hundreds more. One of her best memories is cooking a ten-course Chinese meal for Julia Child back in the 80s.
“As I look around the library,” Lisa reflects, “I see the people that I have worked with and remember the moments of creativity, effort, and passion that went into the development of each book. I have touched, known, worked with, represented, cooked with or for, at least three quarters of those living (and not) on my shelves. These past 40 plus years, Julia Child, Emeril Lagasse, and Charlie Trotter have graced my kitchen, my dining room table and explored my library. I have hosted Lynne Rossetto Kasper, former host of NPR’s Splendid Table fame and taught Fusion chef Norman Van Aken how to cook on camera. I’ve made my mother’s famous brisket for Chef Crystal Wahpepah, fired up the grill in my backyard with Meathead (Goldwyn) and pressed dumplings with Taiwanese American author Frankie Gaw. Sandra Gutierrez, Toni Tipton-Martin, Ronni Lundy and I plotted out new cookbook ideas together over a weekend pajama and bourbon party. All these treasured friends are family to me, and their sage advice have enriched my life and my cooking skills.”
With Lisa’s retirement, The Ekus Group will be led by her oldest daughter and business partner Sally Ekus, who will continue the standard of innovation and expertise. “I have been immersed in this industry since I was a child,” comments Sally, “and it is my great honor to carry forward Lisa’s legacy by leading our agency with a continued commitment to fierce enthusiasm for our clients, our colleagues, and our community. My Moss (Mom/Boss) loves to say, ‘We make dreams come true!’ and I intend to keep making that very thing happen.”
🎙️ To listen to their interview on their local NEPM station go to: https://www.nepm.org/