Local cooking aficionado Bette Banjack releases fourth cookbook

After a self-imposed hiatus, E.M. Bette Banjack is back.

She has just completed her fourth cookbook, Neighborhood Kitchens. With over 300 pages, the book is a collection of interviews of friends and families and their recipes. The interviews originally appeared in The Phoenix as part of her column between 2003-2006.

When she first started to write for The Phoenix, she was warned that writing a weekly column often gets old fast, and if it made it for one year, that the venture would be considered a success.

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After 10 years, she called it quits because she felt she was running out of material and her thoughts were running dry. Each week she offered a tale of growing up in her hometown and associated recipes. She met every deadline in all of those 10 years.

Over the years, Banjack has written for several other publications as well as The Phoenix. She is most recognized from her weekly television cooking shows. Banjack produced and hosted both shows. Most shows she shared with a guest cook - professional chefs and cooks, as well as her neighbors, friends and community locals.

For four years she directly taped from her home kitchen for PCTV (Pottstown Community Television) Downtown Kitchen. The show moved and Look Whos Cooking was taped from the N.A.S.D. Eagle Studio in Norristown for another four years. The shows were also aired on Comcast in Plymouth Meeting.

Besides her weekly television shows, she offered special tapings for the holidays and other events. Banjacks all-time favorite show was Men Who Cook. It was a showcase of six gentlemen, all cooking their favorite dishes at one time. Another highlight was when she met Walter Staib from City Tavern in Philadelphia and later had the opportunity to cook with him at an event. She also appeared with him during a live segment on Fox 29.

Having been told her writing is a talent, she considers it a gift a gift she was able to share with others through inspiration given by her family and friends and the long journey they traveled to make their lives rewarding and full. Its an inspiration from her grandparents, who came to this country with a dream, to her parents and their siblings, who worked for that dream, to her generation, who are living that dream, which started with a vision born before boarding a ship so many years ago.

Readers and viewers can contact her at 610-539-4411 or banjack303@verizon.net.