For three decades, AURAS Design has produced exceptionally tasty communications design for its clients. As a commemoration of 30 years in business, creative director and founder Robert Sugar decided to forego the usual vanity display of past work and create a promotion that would provide readers with something more useful—and more fun.
The result is Delicious by Design, a collection of recipes that reflect the same design philosophy that propels the best work in his studio: quality ingredients, bold editorial flavoring and expert production techniques that expand familiar ideas into inspired projects that look great and create memorable experiences.
Prepare some of the 50 recipes (30 main dishes plus sauces and sides) in this book and you will begin to see a similar philosophy at work. These are classic dishes found on dining tables at restaurants and in homes across America, but each recipe has a special ingredient, an inspired cooking technique, or a twist on the familiar approach to preparation that raise them above their humble “comfort” origins.
In fact, every recipe in this book has been made many times and improved along the way—delicious entrées and sides that have passed the “empty plate test” at countless meals, parties and celebrations. These aren’t fancy, trendy recipes that require unusual tools, obscure ingredients or tricky preparations. Every one of these tasty dishes can be made by anyone who enjoys working in their own kitchen.
Along with the recipes, running commentary helps the reader understand the inspiration behind the preparation as the author dispenses entirely opinionated advice on techniques, tools, sources for ingredients and recipe variations. In the back of the book, there’s a personal history of AURAS Design and how it grew, along with some samples of the studio’s work.
Even if you never cook anything from Delicious by Design—and that would be a shame—reading through the book will provide insight into how ideas are shaped into real products with maximum appeal; ways that experimenting with details and paying attention to process can make all the difference in the world; and in the end, elicit an appreciation for how the final presentation is as much about substance as it is about style.
ROBERT SUGAR is founder and creative director of AURAS DESIGN, a design studio that brings editorial-oriented solutions to clients’ design problems. He started AURAS Design while still enrolled at American University, where he was editor of the school yearbook and literary magazine. The studio’s official start date in 1981 marked the first separate studio space for the company. Rob taught at American University for nine years as an adjunct faculty member in the Art and Communications departments of the School of Communication. As a pioneer in the adoption of desktop publishing tools for professional design and production of print materials, he was responsible for helping other studios and printers adopt new workflows using the technologies. Rob has taught sessions at Folio:Show for 20 years, as well as at many other industry events, and serves as a consultant for publishers. In 2008 he started FPO Magazine, a publication for editorial designers. His most ambitious work to date, however, has been his collaboration with his wife, Helen Rea, in the production of their children, Rebecca and Steven.
RENÉE COMET is a noted advertising photographer specializing in food and still-life photography. Whatever the subject, her visual treatment can best be described as uncomplicated, fluid, and elegant. Great food should be shot big and needs a thousand and one details to be perfect. It needs to completely overtake your gaze, mesmerize you until you’re hungry. For over a quarter century, Renee’s been exploring and succeeding in coercing those details into the best food photography for her clients. Each assignment is an opportunity to interpret, reinterpret, and reinvent the image to produce stunning results for her clients and collaborators. Whether it’s spices for McCormick Spice or spices as healing herbs for AARP Magazine, or spices as ingredients for one of the thousands of recipes in the many cookbooks she’s illustrated, each is an opportunity to see anew. How each specific recipe looks best is Renee’s singular goal. She focuses on conveying that decisive image: the steam, the water droplets, the light touch of sauce on the end of the fork, the moist food, the glare on the food in exactly the right place. You can see more of Renée Comet’s work, and reach her, at www.cometphoto.com.
LISA CHERKASKY is the D.C. area’s most sought‑after food stylist. She brings a rare skill, creativity, and flair to all her work. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Lisa has been working in the world of food for more than 35 years—cooking in restaurants as both a chef and pastry chef, writing, catering, teaching, styling, and eating. She has been independently employed for more than 25 years and counts among her clients McCormick Spice, The Washington Post, Marble Slab Ice Cream, Mount Vernon, Monticello, the Smithsonian, Zatarain’s, Meat and Livestock Australia, and National Geographic. You can find Lisa on her website, http://www.LisaCherkasky.com, and also writing and riffing on sandwiches at www.TheLunchEncounter.com.