Dishing Up New Traditions – Digitalpress Produces a Unique Cookbook for the Ages

by Sabine Lenz, president, PaperSpecs

Before the age of 24/7 food shows, cooking used to be such a personal affair. It was a skill most people would pick up from a family member or two, honing and refining their craft until they were finally deemed worthy of inheriting grandma’s recipe book. Inside could be found dog-eared pages, delightful scents from meals long past and handwritten notes from grandma herself about what worked, what didn’t and why a particular dish meant so much to her.

It’s this same sense of cookbook as heirloom that Digitalpress, Sydney, Australia, reproduces so beautifully in “Dish,” a volume featuring 86 recipes from 44 of Australia’s finest chefs. All profits from the sale of both the $75 standard version and $100 limited edition (signed by a number of the chefs featured) go to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which brightens the lives of seriously ill children and their families in Australia through hospital programs and experiences.

Designed by co-publisher and creator Kelly Shield – a former chef turned graphic designer and avid cookbook collector – “Dish” is not only a great collection of recipes (rosewater milk pudding with watermelon granita, anyone?), but an impressive example of the quality that can be achieved with digital printing today.

The text pages were digitally printed CMYK (plus blue on the special fifth unit to closely match the required Pantone blue) on Sovereign Offset 120 gsm, a smooth white uncoated stock, using a Kodak NEXPRESS, explains Digitalpress owner Theo Pettaras. These were then Smyth sewn with blue thread to match the title on the cover before being casebound into the covers.

“The cover was digitally printed with a Tuffkote matte celloglaze as it provides a more robust finish and it’s hard to scratch, plus it avoids marking, particularly when you’re in the kitchen,” says Pettaras. “Then a high-build spot UV was applied to give the cover some texture and further visual interest.”

As can be clearly seen, that “visual interest” is nothing short of recreating a dinner plate right on the cover, complete with border decorations and a couple of authentic-looking cracks, all against another entirely textured background.

The exposed binding further enhances the homemade feel, suggesting that this is indeed a piece to be treasured. The blue thread matches both the title on the cover as well as that other fantastic detail: the diecut and white-foil-stamped slipcase made from Arjowiggins Curious Matter paper. As the paper nerds out there will recall, Curious Matter is made from potato starch – fitting for a cookbook.

Cracking open “Dish,” readers not only find a bevy of new recipes inside, they also will discover personal comments by the chefs themselves, rendered in a handwriting typeface, concerning their experiences with food and cooking – a nice little personal touch.

This might not be grandma’s recipe book handed down through the generations, but its unique design and conversation-starting cover are enough to make this volume worthy of being passed down to children and grandchildren for generations to come. is an innovative space for highly committed creatives who are in love with the tactile and interactive experience provided by paper and print. inspires, shares insights and provides access to crucial, hands-on tools and resources to bring exceptional print creations to life.