Debra Rollins was shopping on St. Simons Island a few years ago when she hit upon the perfect idea for a fundraiser to benefit Rebuilding Macon.
Rollins, the executive director of the organization, bought a cookbook featuring recipes from some of the island’s restaurants.
“I always buy cookbooks when I travel,” she said. “I know we have some great restaurants in Macon and some great chefs. At the same time, (Rebuilding Macon) needed a fundraiser. This seemed like the perfect fit.”
The result of that idea is “Let’s Get Cooking,” a cookbook featuring contributions from 13 different restaurants in Bibb and Monroe counties. The book debuted last week and has been flying off the shelves, Rollins said.
“They’re selling fabulously,” she said. “Luigi’s (Bistro) sold 10 in one day. It’s just a fabulous gift idea.”
The books sell for $25 and can be found at each of the restaurants featured, as well as several other places in Macon, including Carol’s Linens, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, NewTown Macon, Chi-Ches-ters and Wells Fargo banks. They also can be purchased online at www.rebuildingmacon.org.
All the proceeds from the book go directly into Rebuilding Macon projects, including fixing up homes and building wheelchair ramps for those houses that need them, Rollins said. She said she hopes the book raises between $75,000 and $100,000 for Rebuilding Macon.
Elizabeth Hardin already bought several copies and said she plans to give them as holiday gifts.
“It’s got some good recipes in it,” she said. “It’s a really neat book.”
Rollins said she asked several restaurants whether they would be interested in contributing a recipe.
“I told them to pick something they were proud of and something that would help us sell the book,” Rollins said.
Telegraph columnist Ed Grisamore wrote the book’s introduction, while local writer Skippy Davis wrote the text of the book. Telegraph photographer Beau Cabell shot the pictures.
Betty Mock, who owns Molly’s Cafe on Cherry Street, submitted Mr. Adam’s Favorite Chicken Salad, Molly’s Own Apple Salad and Spinach Quiche. She said all three are among the restaurant’s most popular items.
But even that wasn’t enough for one customer.
“I had a lady buy the book and she wanted me to write the recipe for our soup macaroni and cheese,” Mock said with a chuckle. “Whoever left the blank page in the back of the book, that person was smart.”
Cesare Mammarella added contributions from Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Cafe, Luigi’s Bistro and the Tic Toc Room, all three of which he owns.
“I think it came out great,” he said. “I was overly impressed with it. The book really sells itself. I think there’s a sense of civic pride that goes with it.”
Mammarella said a Fort Lauderdale couple visiting one of his restaurants bought a couple of copies, then used the book as a guide to visit most of the restaurants listed inside.
The restaurateurs featured in the book said they are eager to try out some of the recipes, either in their own kitchens or at the other establishments.
“I really want to go to The Red Tomato (in Bolingbroke) and try the Tuna Tartar,” Mammarella said. “That looks really good.”
Natalia Del Basso Orsini, owner of Natalia’s on North Macon Street, said she plans on making all of the recipes at some point at her home.
“Everyone gets their ideas from seeing a recipe and tweaking it the way you like,” she said.
She listed her Chocolate Hazelnut Torte recipe as her favorite one submitted.
“I’m a chocoholic,” she said. “I make that particular torte every Sunday. I found it a long, long time ago in a French cookbook, and I put in hazelnuts.”
Hardin said she likes the diversity of the restaurants featured -- they aren’t just limited to upscale restaurants or downtown Macon eateries.
“You hear so many recipes for chicken salad,” she said. “I’ve never been to Molly’s, but that one looks pretty good.”
Rollins said she’s gotten so much positive feedback about the book that she plans on compiling another one for Rebuilding Macon in two years.
“I love all of (the restaurants),” she said. “To me, they’re all good examples of our community doing good things for Macon.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.