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PETALUMA PROFILE: Kim Laidlaw’s recipe for success

Owner of Petaluma’s newest publishing consulting business, Cast Iron Media, Kim Laidlaw’s career can best be summed up in the words “cookbook expert.” Over the past sixteen years, she has edited, produced and managed over 100 cookbooks. She is also the author of five titles for Williams-Sonoma — “Quick Slow Cooking,” “Home Baked Comfort,” “Dessert of the Day,” and the soon to be released “Everyday Slow Cooking.”

“I grew up cooking with my mom, and have been dusted with baking flour ever since I was four,” Kim tells us, adding that she recreated this same mother-daughter togetherness while writing her International Academy of Culinary Professionals (IACP)-award nominated best-seller, “Baby and Toddler on the Go: Fresh Homemade Foods to Take Out and About.” “You could say my daughter and I wrote the book together,” allows Kim. “She was just starting solid foods, so I tried out recipes and she provided instant feedback.”

After earning her Communications and Fine Arts-Photography degrees from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, Kim decided needed a cultural and geographic change, and soon after moved from Texas to San Francisco. She Kim began learning the process of bookmaking as an editorial assistant doing nursing texts for Benjamin Cummings — the SF-based textbook arm for the global publisher Pearson PLC. She also went back to school to learn the professional art of baking and pastry at the California Culinary Academy, on Polk Street in San Francisco.

“I was sort of unique in CCA, in that I never wanted to be a professional cook,” she says. “My dream job was to make cookbooks.”

Even so, Kim became what she calls, “An up-at-2:00 a.m., bread and pastry baker,” working for Oakland’s La Farine French Bakery. Their trademark is the rustic baguette. At the same time, she started as a freelance editor at Weldon Owen Publishing, where she eventually became Executive Editor, tasked with creating 15 or more cookbooks each year.

Of her new consulting business, Kim says it’s the fulfillment of a dream she’s had for years.

“I began with a solid list of clients, including Weber, Kendall Jackson Winery, Williams-Sonoma, and “Eating Well” and “Sunset” magazines,” she says. “In addition to developing books, iBooks, and Kindle editions, I am honing in on things that I like to do. I am a recipe developer and tester for brands like Morton Salt and KitchenAid, and famous cooks like Food Network star Tonya Holland.”

Kim also uses her photography skills as a food stylist - Yep, that’s really a thing - for KQED, Ten Speed Press, Williams-Sonoma, and CHOW.com.

Kim met her Scottish-born, former journalist husband at the London Book Fair.

“He’s a web producer/developer, and he loved being in the middle of the SF vibe,” Kim says. “But living in the City with a toddler and preschooler is challenging. I was juggling a four-day work-week and nanny-sharing. We had friends who lived in Petaluma, and when we visited, I learned my husband had never been here.”

The couple noticed the slower pace in Petaluma, and the fact that people actually talk with each other.

”When our daughter turned four, we met with a realtor and found a cute little house that is just perfect for us,” says Kim, adding, “But it took some time for both of us to learn to slow down and have a chat.”

(Contact Gil at gilmansergh@comcast.net)