At 19 years old, Emily Abrams has made a sizable splash in the worlds of cooking and environmental awareness.
Abrams, a senior in high school who hails from Chicago, was in Boston last week as part of a book tour for “Don’t Cook the Planet,” her cookbook that features recipes and tips from more than 70 notables, including politicians, Academy Award winners, and world-renowned chefs. Each of the contributors have a common belief: that fighting climate change can start at the dinner table, no matter how small the effort.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick attended the Hub event on April 30, which Abrams said went incredibly well.
“It was great,” she recalled on Friday during a phone interview with Boston.com. “Governor Patrick was there and he’s amazing and very inspirational. He’s a great guy. It was a great group.”
Governor Patrick isn’t the only Massachusetts notable with ties to the book. The forward to “Don’t Cook the Planet” was written by Robert Kennedy, Jr., or as Abrams calls him, Bobby, and it includes a recipe from his mother, Ethel. Boston based, James Beard Award-winning chef Ken Oringer and Legal Sea Foods executive chef Rich Vellante also donated recipes to the cause.
Abrams’ favorite recipe from the book happens to be for her mother Wendy’s chocolate chip cookies, but she’s tasted each dish and believes all of them “are amazing.”
“They’re not just sustainable but they’re all really delicious,” Abrams said.
Wendy Abrams, an environmentalist who started a public art exhibition to raise climate change awareness called Cool Globes, helped inspire Emily to be eco-conscious, but it was ultimately the makings of a trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro with family friend Gabriel Viti in 2009 that spawned the idea for the book.
“He was telling us about how every time he’d gone back the snow was receding,” Abrams recalled of the conversation with Viti, owner and chef of Chicago’s Miramar Bistro. “We started talking about climate change a lot and talking about food and curious about how there haven’t been any cookbooks.”
Five years later, Abrams celebrated the release of “Don’t Cook the World” with one of the book’s participants, Alice Waters, at Waters’ San Francisco restaurant, Chez Panisse on March 17.
“She’s the godmother of sustainable cooking so it was a real inspiration to be with her,” Abrams remembered of the event. “It’s inspirational to see what she’s done.”
Waters is part of a web of collaborators which was spun by a large network of family and friends — and a standardized letter.
“Gabriel really helped me reach out to the chef side of the people in the book, and my mom and Bobby Kennedy helped me reach out to the political and environmental people,” Abrams said. “It kind of became a web that everyone knew someone who knew someone who had some thing.
“I wrote a standardized letter,” she added. “And got a great response from that.”
Other notable names in the book include Academy Award-winning director and actor Robert Redford, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, and funny man Chevy Chase.
Abrams wants people to know that small changes can help in the fight to curb climate change.
“I think that the number one tip is always eat locally and that’s the most obvious when you’re thinking about it,” Abrams said. “That’s where you’re going to give back to your community.
“I suggest meatless Mondays which is eliminating meat from your diet one day a week. By doing that, you’re reducing your carbon footprint by just a little amount but eventually you’ll get into the habit,” Abrams recommended. “You’ll form a more sustainable lifestyle.”
If you want to cook like some of the world’s best chefs and help the planet, you’ll be happy to know that 100 percent of the author proceeds from the book will be donated to environmental organizations.
“Don’t Cook the Planet” is listed for $19.28 on Amazon.Emily Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MissEmilyWright.