Head directly to the book page at Iron Chef Shellie:
Shellie loves to tell the story of how the Cabin Fever Cookbook began. She has been part of our Arctic photography tours for many years now working as a private chef for the groups. She goes to great lengths to keep everyone fed and pampered. It’s not just that she cooks up a dish for dinner, she cooks an entire feast. Local ingredients and recipes from friends in the north are usually part of the menu too.
Anyway, this cookbook essentially began one night when we were with a group in the Norwegian Arctic on Lofoten and headed into town for supplies. Shellie was making a nice shrimp and garlic pasta for lunch the next day, but she spied a funny little freezer that looked like it should have ice cream inside, but turned out to have sections of Arctic Crab legs. These are seriously delicious crabs and normally cost a bundle. We cleaned out every last leg in the freezer, and the next day our tour group enjoyed a stunning pasta dish topped with crab and salmon roe.
I never took a photograph of that dish, instead I was busy being a tour guide for a group of photographers. That moment was so lovely however, seeing my favourite person in the world whip up a magnificent meal for an entire group in our gorgeous cabin over the water. Later that night we ended up shooting auroras just outside of the very same cabin. It was some kind of magical day alright.
Over the years Shellie’s efforts to cater for our tour groups has grown into a life of its own. She is an over achiever and I feel like my companions on the trips are just the luckiest people in the world. Not only do they get a fantastic travel experience, but they have a culinary journey as well. I have heard about some photo tours where they bring you to Lofoten and just tell the group to order meals at a nearby restaurant or visit the supermarket. Ouch. Meanwhile Shellie is making reindeer pappardelle, fiske suppe and kanelbulle. If only those poor folks in the other cabins knew!
From the moment Shellie turned a simple shrimp and garlic pasta into an Arctic Crab experience I knew there was a beautiful book to be made. It was already within us, we just had to bring it out into the light. Many publishers told us this idea was very lovely, but too niche. I guess that happens when you create something from the heart and not from the marketing department. This book already existed, just not on paper.
Ironically the book won’t actually exist on paper at all. It’s digital only but takes full advantage of the gorgeous format on your retina display iPad or Android tablet.
Just before the covid pandemic hit all of our lives we had every reason to hope that a particular publisher would pick up this project. They were enthusiastic and excited, as were we. Then the world was tipped upside down in March and they just stopped replying to emails. We later learned a lot of staff lost their jobs and offices were being closed. There are worse things in the world than not getting your book published.
It turns out there are worse things in the world than a digital book too. We also realised that many cooks love to have copies of recipes on their iPad in the kitchen, instead of actual books. Paper gets dirty and stains and doesn’t wipe clean easily the way an iPad does. It’s easy to stand upright on a bench top plus it’s searchable. The other big win for the digital format was that we can send it to our friends all over the world without spending $75 in postage!!!
This Christmas we can simply pop onto "Google Play Books" and order a copy for whoever we want, anywhere in the world, and they receive an email with instructions on how to download and redeem their gift. We’re thinking this might make Cabin Fever Cookbook the world’s best Christmas card, one that's 426 pages long and loaded with snowy cabins and food porn.
There’s a lot we love about real books, but I have to say there is just as much we love about the digital versions. We designed the book originally for print, so once the digital version got the green light we paused for a moment to consider what this means for our design. The original concept had already been trimmed down a little by the realities and restrictions that print imposes. We realised that suddenly we can do *anything* we wanted with this book, and include so much more of the lovely images that tell the story of “The North”.
We realised that we can make this cookbook much bigger and more generous, and simply make it our own again.
To my eyes this book is so much richer and fuller and more vibrant than a traditional cookbook. It's clear and sharp and readable and the recipe details haven't been jammed in with a tiny font to minimise the page count. It feels relaxed. It feels considered. It feels inviting. It doesn't yell at you in screeching tones about activated almonds or why you need to eat your greens. (Although I know I should.) It wasn't conceived by a marketing team trying to identify the coolest trends to hit our market within the next 6 months. In the end it took us two years to complete the job. Shellie and I just don't fit neatly into the pragmatic world of commercial publishing. We're creators not manufacturers. We’re people, not celebrities.
Yes it’s a book, but it’s also an experience. That’s what the digital version has given us back. Our travels in Norway, Sweden and Iceland are fundamental to the recipes and meal plans that make up the cookbook. But there’s room for more than cooking. There’s room for the cabins, for the people who shared Shellie’s cooking, for the wilderness and remote locations that we love so much. Making Umami Moose Burgers for lunch means something different when your kitchen is in a cabin just outside the Arctic Circle and the hunting season has just begun.
Food has context. The recipe means so much more when it comes from a context. The people and places that led to a collection of ingredients on a page are what make it special. And goodness this book is special. It’s special because the places and the people are just exceptional. We hope the food and the recipes reflect that too.
I hope everyone will see the love in this book. I hope they can feel it. I hope they can put themselves into these cabins and understand why they're special. I hope they can feel the connection between Shellie and our hosts. Each menu is a little bit Shellie but a little bit local. Some hosts had family recipes they wanted to share. Some had food harvested from their farm or forests to share. Some were happy to sit back and have a day away from the kitchen for a change!
My favourite thing about Cabin Fever Cookbook is that it's genuine. Absolutely and completely genuine. It's a book that exists because of what was within us. I would watch Shellie cook for our tour groups in the Arctic and marvel at what she achieves in what are often very limited spaces with barely enough crockery or pots. I knew she had an amazing book within her. The way she brings her cooking experiences together with some wild ingredients to make meals that are so unique and so satisfying.
I guess my favourite thing about the book is Shellie. The cabins are very nice and the locations are stunning and the food is just divine... but Shellie is the real deal. I’m so lucky to be on this journey with her. And with the click of a button on your iPad we’d love for you to join our journey too.