Praising D‘s Catherine Downes, Who Photographed Award-Winning Cookbook

When your photography of vegan cheese wins a world cookbook award, I think you gotta brag. Let's hear it for our online dining editor.

I learned today that Catherine Downes, D‘s online dining editor, has major bragging rights this week. And because she probably wouldn’t say anything about it, I will.

Some backstory is required. Catherine happens to be friends with Karen McAthy, whom she met when they both worked at a coffee shop on campus at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. At some point, McAthy set out to make non-dairy cheeses that would have the depth of cultured cheeses, not just the rubbery textures of American cheese-simulacrum shrink-wrapped slices and other such things.

Karen, who is a noted Vancouver chef, wrote a book. Catherine is a food photographer. They collaborated, getting together for a long weekend in Vancouver in which they shot and presumably ate vegan cheese.

The result is beautiful photography in a book titled The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking that came out last May. From the cumin cheese gouda on the cover to herb-crusted rounds and the shot of almond-coconut blue cheese that is a startling look-alike, these non-dairy cheeses achieves a powerful trompe l’oeil effect. They’re cracked, textured, brined, washed, air-dryed; they look aged.

It all underscores the remarkable power of photography to make it real. You could not and would not believe it unless you see it. Don’t believe me, check here.

And for this, they won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award for 2018, designating The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking as one of three best vegan cookbooks in the world.

So there. That is the news. Can you say that about your extracurriculars?

And I’ll add that two other books on vegan cheese came out in June (late-to-the-party-ers) and they’ve got nothing on this one. At the risk of being cheesy, I’d say they stink.