Fruits and Vegetables Get Star Treatment in Ripe

May 3, 2012

By Barbara Goldman

© Paulette Phlipot

&nbsp;<em>Ripe </em>cookbook cover.

 Eating your fruits and vegetables may now be just as alluring and enjoyable as diving into any confectioner’s decadent creation.  One of the newest cookbooks out today, Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables, is taking the culinary world by storm with a fresh and unique approach to nature’s bounty. Fruits and vegetables are the glorious stars, no longer just the sidekicks, in this thoughtful and highly entertaining book with spectacular photography.

Sun Valley, Idaho-based Paulette Phlipot is an award-winning food, travel and lifestyle photographer.  She is the founding photo editor of Teton Family Magazine: Cultivating a Healthy, Sustainable Community and photographer of several books, Entertaining Sun Valley Style and a A Taste of Wyoming.  She has produced imagery for editorial and commercial clients and most recently has worked as co-creator/photographer for Ripe with food writer Cheryl Sternman RuleRipe is a book Phlipot has dreamed about doing for several years and finally found her soul-mate collaborator in Rule. 

Phlipot met Rule, a nationally recognized food writer for newspapers and magazines such as Sunset, Body + Soul, Cooking Light, Health and The San Jose Mercury News, at the annual IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference. She had been following Rule’s blog and felt she was the kind of writer Phlipot wanted to work with photographically. Rule could lightheartedly elevate fruits and vegetables with words to the level Phlipot wanted to go with her compelling food imagery. Phlipot asked Rule if she would be willing to join forces to create a proposal together that would lead them to getting a new kind of cookbook published.

The pair created a vision to include Phlipot’s color-drenched imagery with Rule’s whimsical vignettes, easy-to-do recipes and practical ingredient combinations that would present fruits and vegetables in a fun and humorous way, along with 150 photographs, 75 tempting recipes and simple uses for each fruit and vegetable.

To produce the recipe photos for the book, Rule traveled to Phlipot’s home in Sun Valley, Idaho and Phlipot traveled to Rule’s home in San Jose, California.  The larger-than-life still life fruit and vegetable photos were produced in Phlipot’s studio. “We did not want this book to be used as a health resource, nor make it feel like we are preaching to eat more produce,” says Phlipot.  They wanted the book to get people excited about fruits and vegetables so much that they would want to eat more of them naturally.   “There tends to be a smaller focus on ingredient photos in cookbooks and more of a focus on the recipe photos. Being that I was involved with the conception of the book I was able to change this,” explains Phlipot.  She wanted there to be a full page photo of each of the 75 produce items featured (ingredient photos), along with a photo for each of the 75 recipes.  One of Ripe’s distinct charms is that it is arranged by color, making it even easier to identify bounty and celebrate the beauty as well as culinary potential of fruits and vegetables. Phlipot felt that organizing the book by color instead of by season or meal course, as most cookbooks are arranged, would not only be different and far more visually stimulating but also would encourage readers to eat a rainbow of colors, which is naturally more healthful and pleasurable to the palate.

Phlipot and Rule signed on with Brick House Literary Agent Jenni Ferarri-Adler and from there they ended up selling the book to Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group, working with Editor Geoffrey Stone and, Designer Amanda Richmond.   “As soon as I heard about Cheryl and Paulette’s idea for the Ripe project, I was intrigued. It is such a bold approach to presenting food in a cookbook. Paulette’s stunning photographs coupled with Cheryl’s fun engaging tone made the vision come to life for me,” says Editor Stone. As an editor, it was wonderful for him to see the book come together: the different hues and shades of the colors, fitting the text with the photos just so, and bringing out the best of each ingredient. “All the work has paid off in the culmination of one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve had the privilege to edit,” adds Stone.

Although the collaboration was ideal, there were still technical challenges to overcome on the project.  Phlipot had to work her shooting schedule around the natural seasonality of the produce items, making sure not to miss any items before they went out of season. “Since I did not have an assistant or a food stylist and we did not have an art director at the shoots, I had a lot of flexibility and could do the shoots whenever I wanted. Juggling them between other assignments could sometimes be tricky as I really had to keep in close contact with our growers and market to make sure I was blocking out appropriate time so that I was photographing items at their peak and was not forgetting to photograph something before it went out of season” says Phlipot. To get those large stunning shots, Phlipot used a Nikon D3, Nikon SB 800s and AlienBee and Photogenic flash units and Pocket Wizard Radio Slaves.

The hardcover book is 8 ½” x   8 ½” with a total of 312 pages that includes 150 photographs divided into 75 artistic still lifes of individual fruits and vegetables and 75 recipe photos. The book has been praised by such well-known culinary superstars as Alice Waters, author and owner of Chez  Panisse,  Heidi Swanson,  author of  recipe journal and Tara Mataraza Desmond, co-author of Almost Meatless.  Great reviews are also pouring in from Idaho Mountain Express and Guide and The Concierge Questionniare  and The Wall Street Journal.

You might say, Both Phlipot and Rule are truly reaping the benefits of their hard work for Ripe. They have been very busy promoting the book with scheduled events and book signings throughout the U.S. that will go from May through September 2012.  The book was released March 27, 2012, and has already gone into a third printing as of April 11, 2012.  It has been selling as a cookbook, a gift book and as a coffee table book and will also be available as an E-book. Phlipot plans to arrange a gallery showing of the still life photos as well. 

To learn more or to catch up with the duo at an upcoming event, you can view a  video trailer of the book and visit the  Ripe Web site at  Also, see more of Paulette Phlipot’s food, lifestyle and travel imagery, read her blog and find out how she makes food look so good whether in a restaurant, home kitchen or right out on the street at a market , all on her site at