Flotsam and Chefsam: Thousands of Cookbooks Lost at Sea

Rough seas prove a recipe for disaster when two new cookbooks—chef Mason Hereford’s Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans and Melissa Clark’s Dinner in One—attempt to cross the Atlantic and make their debut

Flotsam and Chefsam: Thousands of Cookbooks Lost at Sea
The Madrid Bridge, seen here in calmer seas, lost 60 shipping containers on the Atlantic in January. (Bodo Marks/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Feb 2, 2022

Cookbook fans will be waiting a little longer to devour their next course. As if the world’s supply-line woes weren’t bad enough, the container ship Madrid Bridge experienced a container collapse in the Northern Atlantic while en route to New York in early January. Among the lost cargo? A literal boatload of two highly anticipated new cookbooks: Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans from Mason Hereford—the chef behind hip New Orleans mainstay Turkey and the Wolf—with James Beard Award–winning writer J.J. Goode, and Dinner in One from New York Times columnist and food writer Melissa Clark (both books are published by Penguin Random House).

“I was informed last weekend. They opened with something like, ‘The good news is no one was injured …,’ so I thought, what is the publisher about to tell me?” Hereford told Wine Spectator via email (food TV fans might recognize Hereford from his appearance on Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil). “My reaction was honestly relieved that something more catastrophic hadn't happened, with a side of holy cow what a bizarre turn of events.” Hereford’s cookbook includes recipes for dishes like burnt tomato casserole (one of his mother’s specialties), deviled egg tostadas, a chicken-fried steak sandwich and biscuits. Per the chef, it’s not clear yet how many copies were lost or damaged. Originally scheduled for a February launch, the cookbook’s release date has been pushed to June 21, 2022; Dinner in One’s release has been pushed to Sept. 6.

“There was a maritime storm. Containers were crushed, some fell overboard,” Clark wrote on Instagram. “I like to think that if the books are at the bottom of the ocean, they’re teaching whole schools of fish some very tasty recipes. Poseidon and his nereids are dining in style.” Anyone who pre-ordered Dinner in One will still receive the one-pot–focused cookbook upon release, and will be able to attend Clark’s online cooking class in September.

According to Ocean Network Express, the company operating Madrid Bridge, about 60 cargo units went overboard and another 80 were damaged. The ship, which sails under the Japanese flag, docked in Charleston Jan. 25, where it underwent assessment before returning to service Jan. 31.

Hereford and Clark are nevertheless keeping in good spirits. “There's been so much hard to digest news over the past two years, it's actually refreshing that something this wild (and apparently newsworthy) happened without it feeling like the end of the world. We're gonna be just fine,” Hereford said, adding that he only wished readers could dig in to his book sooner.

”I’m wrecked about this (ha), and so impatient to get these one-pot recipes into your hands,” Clark wrote on Instagram. “Sigh. Glub, glub.”


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