A Book’s Journey To Print – Captured in this cookbook are the recipes that journeyed through Ellis Island, The Ellis Island Immigrant Cookbook, by Tom Bernardin.
Passion for History Inspires a Book’s Journey
Tom has had a long passion for history. He learned about the impact immigration had on American history while growing up in Lawrence, MA, known as Immigrant City. Later he moved to New York and taught English to recent immigrants. He then moved on to serve as a tour guide at Ellis Island and that led Tom to develop a slide lecture titled, Ellis Island– The Golden Door. When he left the Park Service in 1981, he began presenting that program. When shown in nursing homes, it would trigger memories for some residents. They would mention the foods that they ate coming through Ellis Island. Realizing no one was preserving the recipes that came through Ellis Island, Tom decided to start a cookbook.
The Book Journey Begins by Reaching Out for Recipes
Tom reached out through press releases to places like the Associated Press asking for recipes. At the last minute, he had included a note asking people to include family histories to introduce the recipes. Soon his rented post office box on Fifth Avenue had received about 300 responses representing 35 countries. The stories that came with the recipes quickly became a crucial part of the book.
Putting It All Together
Tom wanted a book that gave a touching look at immigrant ancestors and their new lives in America told through the recipes. He discovered the recipes allowed them to bring sweet memories of home to their new American kitchens. In reading the recipes he knew it was important to keep the true flavor intact. The only changes made to the submitted recipes were to standardize the format and the abbreviations.
Tom found the project challenging as he dealt with financial burdens and learning how to create the book. Not only did he have to figure out how to divide the recipes into categories but also how to put the book together. He also pulled information from the Oral History Program at Ellis Island for the book. In addition to that, he had maps drawn for the book and researched photographs and images to include.
The Journey to Print a Book Leads to Self-Publishing
Right from the start, Tom knew he wanted his book’s journey to print to be self-published so he could stay in complete control and retain profits from the book. He initially went with a printer that wasn’t able to deliver an important shipment so moved on to a printer in Pennsylvania. When they went out of business, someone recommended Jumbo Jack’s to him.
Tom said, “Finding Jumbo Jack’s (now Cookbook Specialists) has been a dream come true. Their attention to detail to respond to communications right away makes printing easy. Shipping is accurate and on time, eliminating hassles. They have provided customer service and quality beyond expectations.”
A Successful Well-Loved Book
With over 115,000 books sold, Tom has received many positive comments about his book including those who have revisited memories or found family favorites tucked in the pages. As a result, this has led the cookbook to becoming a part of Tom’s identity. Although he started it in his 30s, it become a passion in his life and chief source of income.
To purchase a copy of the cookbook visit: Ellis Island Immigrant Cookbook
Learn more about Ellis Island and the National Park Service – Ellis Island
To learn how to have your history book printed visit Cookbook Specialists or call 1-800-383-1679