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Beyonce’s Cookbook: Would You Buy It?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Caught this across my desk:

Beyonce Knowles plans to publish a soul food cookbook, a source told the Daily Mirror. The singer was inspired by her mother, who prepares a spread of collard greens, cornbread, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken no matter where in the world they were.

Beyonce’s other inspiration is none other than fellow recent cookbook author Gwyneth Paltrow. The two friends have spoken and Paltrow has been encouraging.

The only problem is that Beyonce has previously admitted that she isn’t such a great cook, and that she doesn’t really enjoy it. In fact, Beyonce says she’s a disaster in the kitchen. [source]

My personal thoughts? I think back to a few months ago, when the original creator of the Kwanzaa Cake – yes, the Kwanzaa Cake – surfaced to tell the tale of how she wound up writing her recipes… including the most famous recipe… ever. Remember this?

One night in my office, at least 10 years ago, my phone rang. I answered it. If only I had noticed that my dogs started to howl and blood mysteriously started seeping from the walls. Alas, I did not. So excited to close the sale, I made an appointment with a personal assistant to meet “the next Martha Stewart, only bigger.” I was happy to think about this latest project that would help feed my assistants.

It turned out that the premise of this cookbook would be “delicious desserts with nothing made from scratch.” This book would be the second in a series. The first book was almost done, but apparently the writer, food stylist and recipe tester from that first book had all gone sailing in the Bermuda Triangle to celebrate and had disappeared. The books were being self-published by Ms. Lee, unless she could find a publisher, ASAP. She really, really wanted a publishing partner.

I ‘m not sure if it was because my head was spinning 360 degrees and my retinas had become burned by some horrible smoke that seemed to fill the room whenever she moved, but I wasn’t grasping the concept. “No fresh food. Just canned food. Nothing fresh, do you understand me? All food out of cans or boxes, so it’s easy for the homemaker …and write the brand name of the cans or boxes right in the recipe.”

I assumed it was the ten years of smoking dope in my formative years that was making me stupid. Then I thought, okay, this is another slant on The Cake Mix Doctor, by Anne Byrn. A book that had been wildly successful. I can do this.

Before you say a word, let me say one more thing in my defense.

I have people that depend on me for their livelihood. Assistants, designers, photographers, and especially my American Express Platinum card. I sign the checks, so I have to bring in the money. To make my small business work, I took the job. First time I ever signed a contract. Of all the truly big stars and real celebrities I’ve worked with, it was always just a handshake and my reputation for getting the job done that created the deal. To put it simply, I deliver what I say I will.

Ms. Lee insisted on a contract. Her attorney at the time also sold Mexican art.

Please, I can’t make this sh-t up.

F-ck me; of course I should have seen the writing on the wall.

Thirteen months past and after exactly 151 recipes, I tried to fake my death.

Ms. Lee called and though we were done with the book, she needed at least ten extra angel food cakes for “fun” sugary holiday times to sell to a magazine. Just a reader’s note, it wasn’t Gourmet, but the magazine I designed those “adorable cakes” for is still in business.

Read it and weep.

Please ask yourself, what would you have done in my place? See how that Kwanzaa cake is looking better from my perspective? I will tell you truly, the candles were her idea.

I guess I imagined something more refined. And I know the Corn Nuts were disgusting, but she didn’t. As a matter of fact, the more tasteless the recipes got the more she liked them, the faster she approved them, and I could get home and drink some medium-priced wine after our meetings. She’s not a good role model for abstinence.

Get it?

The last words I’ll speak, before I board my plane and go to a land where nobody knows Sandra Lee, is that I had to fill the cavity of the Chanukah cake with marshmallows so it wouldn’t collapse under all that frosting, and so that much-discussed pearl Star of David “crown” wouldn’t topple. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’ve never watched any of the videos on YouTube. My priest says, “Never call the devil.”

And to think, Anthony Bourdain was afraid of her. Crap, he was never even close.

In the event that you decided to skip that – which would be totally okay – here’s the overall point that needed to be made:

Very rarely do the people who “headline” the cookbooks actually write the recipes. If anything, she’ll say “Oooh, I want this kind of recipe” or “make sure there’s a [insert favorite dish] recipe in there, too” but the idea of her putting it all together for real on her own in a kitchen? It doesn’t go down like that.

So, don’t worry – it’s highly unlikely that you’d wind up buying a book full of Beyonce’s hamburger helper recipes.

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TesiaLoveFlavor July 28, 2011 - 9:42 AM

Hi, Beyonce writing a soul/southern food cookbook doesn’t appeal to me because given that she’s “big-boned”, yet remains slim, lets me know that she’s really not eating that kind of food often. I’m much more interested in what she eats on a regular basis and knowing her fitness routine.

Kjen July 29, 2011 - 4:45 PM

Agreed. I’d buy a Beyonce fitness and weight loss book before her cook book.

Melania July 28, 2011 - 9:53 AM

I would buy it. I love cookbooks and the Bey brand is so solid, I’m sure it would be a quality, relatable product. P.S. I’ll be buying your meal plans as well, they look fabulous! #supportasista.com.

Amanda July 28, 2011 - 9:54 AM

“The singer was inspired by her mother, who prepares a spread of collard greens, cornbread, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken no matter where in the world they were.

Excerpted from Beyonce’s Cookbook: Would You Buy It? | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss ”

Oh well, that’s not obnoxious at all.

Really? Would it kill you to eat Japanese food in Japan, real Thai food in Thailand, real Turkish food in Turkey? I’m not saying you have to eat *everything* they eat but I’d feel like an idiot, in Indonesia for a week and eating macaroni and cheese. I hope that’s just something cute she’s saying to sell the idea but knowing what we know of her mother’s conviction she does everything better than anyone else (including dress her daughter’s music group *shudder*) it’s probably true.

sydney July 28, 2011 - 10:23 AM

Oh, I remember that monstrosity known as the Kwanzaa cake. As someone who loves to bake, I didn’t think a cake could be insulting but alas, I was proven wrong. I understand what Sandra Lee is trying to do but the execution is a fail whale at best. Plus, she can’t top Martha. That woman has an Empire to run and no one is going to dethrone the Queen anytime soon.

Meh, there are so many good cookbooks on the market. Unless, she can top Terry Bryant, G. Garvin, or Patti LaBelle, I won’t bother.

Savannah July 28, 2011 - 11:39 AM


Erika Nicole Kendall July 28, 2011 - 9:58 PM

LOL You mean Bryant Terry? LOL 🙂

sydney July 29, 2011 - 6:28 PM

Doh! Gotta a little confused there. 😛

curious July 28, 2011 - 11:28 AM

if you made a cook book erika, i’d buy it. i prefer cook books over the internet any day.

Michelle of Chellbellz July 28, 2011 - 11:45 AM

Please don’t remind us on the infamous K Cake again! Sandra Lee lost all my damn respect when she attempted to make that damn thing! It was so gross, and so tacky to me. Not even because it was Kwanza but because the holiday isn’t even known for having a “cake” it was done to me in poor taste just to use up air time.

In regards to Beyonce bascially I think he mother should have come out with the cookbook. I think her mother is her own brand, and Beyonce has said before that she can cook a few things well, and that she isn’t constantly in the kitchen cooking up a storm like her mom was. So i don’t know that i buy into the fact that she made these things, or had anything to do with it.

Serenity July 28, 2011 - 11:46 AM

No. Beyonce doesn’t strike me a person that can cook. I know I’m sterotyping but that’s how I feel. And I already have my soulfood thing down packed. I’m assuming this will sell to white people who don’t know any better.

I WOULD, however, buy/download/whatever a sewing book from Ms. Tina Knowles. She can sew her butt pads off!

TLS July 28, 2011 - 1:09 PM

No, I would not buy the cookbook. If you aren’t even a cook and have admittedly said you are a disaster in the kitchen you cannot sell me on your cookbook. It just seems to be more marketing and ramp up for her brand. As a fan, I don’t really see why she needs to or is doing this. Particularly since she is going with soul food instead of sharing recipes, food habits, and ideas that help keep in such fabulous shape.

T.R. July 28, 2011 - 1:46 PM

I have to agree with Sydney on this: The G Garvin cookbook is AWESOME and if you want a good, correction, GREAT/EXCELLENT soul food cookbook Patti’s is it hands down. I have not had one fail from that book. I used her pie crust recipe for the first time a month back along with her peach cobbler and EVERYONE loved it. Mind you it was the first time I’d made pie crust from scratch.

As for Mrs. Carter’s cookbook, um even if a person doesn’t “write” the book per se, I at least like to know/think/or believe they’ve been around a kitchen to some degree and can or at least try and cook, which is why I stick to chefs, old school cooks and Martha “the Don” Stewart…LOL okay a B. Smith is good too. :O)

So I will probably pass on this cookbook even though I LOVE to collect them and recipes.

Gigi July 28, 2011 - 6:00 PM

Ugh…soul food.

I get it–it’s considered a vital part of African-American cuisine, but can we be a little more creative? This just seems like another “Down Home with the Neely’s”, where black folks are boxed into a culinary corner, and do nothing to address the unhealthy eating habits (and shopping habits) in our community. The Beyonce brand is powerful and influential, and if her cookbook addressed the stuff we see here, it would do a lot of good.

sydney July 28, 2011 - 6:39 PM

@Gigi: Exactly. That’s why I like Bryant Terry (the correct version of his name). His book, the Vegan Soul Kitchen, is a fresh, healthy take on traditional foods from the African diaspora without the usual fattening suspects. If I remember correctly, the book addresses some of the issues you mention in your post. We don’t need another mac n’ cheese recipe. #PaulaDeen. Just saying…

Shante July 28, 2011 - 8:20 PM

Not a chance in hell. I own well over a hundred cookbooks. Beyonce would bring the quality of my library down and I say that with love because I love that girl but as a singer. What does she know about food besides eating? Plus the fact that she has stated that she can’t cook is one thing but the fact that she doesn’t even enjoy it is a whole other level of chile please. I have own one book written by a none chef and that would be a Rachel Ray book and only because well she has fast ideas. Other than that my books are written by Chefs. And for a reason they speak my language and I can trust the recipes more.

Niko of Kimchi & Grits July 29, 2011 - 5:03 AM

Same here, I’d rather a cookbook of the stuff she actually eats when getting concert ready; for energy, health, and weight maintenance. Unless they’re genuine longtime/passed down family recipes ( I’m always a sucker for recipes with history). But I bet the book would sell well to other folks, I’d expect lots of pinup-esque glossy photos will be par for the course, if she makes a go of it.

I’m wishing, hoping, and praying; that she’ll get with some of her choreographer pals and get a dance themed cardio workout dvd series going. Now that I’d pay for. = )

Daphne July 29, 2011 - 2:13 PM

Short answer: No.

I’m curious as to her motivation for this, though – she’s already made her mark in the music world, has crossed over into acting, and is a worldwide celebrity. Seems kind of random for to think, “What’s next in my plan for world domination? Oh yeah…..a soul food cookbook! Even though I can’t cook worth a darn!” Really, Beyonce?

Courtney July 30, 2011 - 12:03 PM

I wouldn’t buy anything related to Beyonce’s health or exercise regimen, unless it was a book written by her trainer. I do remember reading Beyonce saying she’s a disaster in the kitchen and can’t cook. I think she should stick to entertaining and leave cookbooks to others. If she did an instructional dance video, I’d be all over it!

Frenchy83 December 7, 2011 - 10:51 AM


Tiera September 6, 2011 - 7:22 PM

Pardon me, but it just bothers me when young women don’t know how to cook. What is the baby gonna eat? To me, knowing how to cook is just part of the overall woman (overall person, in fact, man or woman). Cooking is not all that makes a woman a woman, of course, but it certainly adds to it. It is definitely something that I think a woman should learn especially when she’s bringing a child into the world. This is just my opinion so I hope that no one jumps down my throat about it.

Cheryl September 26, 2011 - 9:09 AM

Um, no. I am perfectly happy buying her music – great for the treadmill, elliptical, etc. I have never heard of her cooking anything or liking to cook. I am not going to be buying a collection of recipes her people bought from someone else. Nor am I going to buy the parenting book she is going to come out with in 2 years…

Tremilla October 31, 2011 - 9:23 AM

I usually but anything Beyonce but a cookbook……. I know she cant cook but if I flipped through the book and some saw good recipes then I would buy it. Trust me I have bought some cook books from some of these chefs on t.v. and they weren’t all that. I may just give hers a try. I can cook I just like to discover new recipes.

Cherished December 5, 2011 - 1:47 PM

I was just about to type in my , NO I WOULDN’T BUY IT response when I read Tiera’s post. That’s just it. We have a whole generation of girls growing up that don’t know how to cook and that can learn along with Beyonce how to make the recipes in her book.

For me personally I like Patti LaBelles cookbooks and the stories that go along with the recipes and her healthy cookbook for everyday cooking.

Worst cookbook for me ever, Ebony cookbook. The dishes never turn out right.

Antoinette December 7, 2011 - 2:28 AM

I love food, cookbooks and I love Beyonce. I would absolutely buy it!

Kim April 21, 2012 - 6:18 PM

It depends on who Beyonce would steal the recipes from

Erika Nicole Kendall April 22, 2012 - 9:48 AM


Joelyn May 3, 2012 - 1:30 PM

No need for her to write a cookbook…. We have plenty chefs and artisans for that… However, if she can do a video on her exercise regimen and how she is able to dance forever in those 5 inch heels and not be out of breath.. then I’ll check it out

Shani Nicole October 9, 2012 - 10:54 AM

Beyonce has said many times she can’t cook and is learning how to cook so why o why would anyone buy a cookbook from her. I love me some Bey but this is just a no no.

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