Books of Tribeca: Maman the Cookbook

Over the years, the owners of Maman — Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte — have had so many requests from customers asking for recipes that they thought it was time to finally write a book. “Maman: The Cookbook” launched last month and contains many of the recipes that have made the café a downtown favorite. This week they will host a book signing: Thursday, Oct. 21, from 11a to 2p at the shop.

“It was always a dream of mine to write a cookbook,” said Elisa. “Our best memories were spent in the kitchen with our moms, cooking and baking, and we want the cookbook to be an extension of that.” Their mothers each wrote a forward.

The couple opened their first café in Soho in 2014, and at the time they were living in Tribeca. (They moved back to Elisa’s native Montreal for a time, when they had their son, Yves, who is the model in these photos, but are back now looking for a place in the neighborhood.) The second café to open was ours, on West Broadway and Franklin, in 2015. And it snowballed from there. They now have nine shops, the last of which just opened last month in Rockefeller Center.

Elisa said her first cookbook was an arts and crafts project she did as a child with her mom and included the recipe for cheesecake off the back of a Philadelphia cream cheese box. This one is a little more sophisticated, with recipes for their olive oil/blood orange loaf, summer vegetable spiral tart and red wine, mushroom and onion soup. But each page also has room for notes, since she sees a cookbook as a work in progress that requires some tweaking for every palate.

“Cooking and baking is so personal. You might make a wonderful cake but find it too sweet, so you really have to make it your own. I wanted to make the book gorgeous but also functional so we made the pages matte so you can play around with it and customize it for yourself.”

She can’t take credit for all the recipes — some are from her kitchen but also from her pastry chef and savory chef. It was a team effort, she said, and case in point it ends with her marketing director’s favorite: Andrea’s Green Bloody Mary with tomatillos, yellow tomatoes, green apple, cucumber and jalapeno. “We think it has the perfect level of kick, but you can tame the heat or punch it up.”

And of course this final instruction: “Serve immediately.”