Food is more than just an experience for your taste buds, it is an opportunity to unite people together across generations. For Plymouth resident Rachel Ingber, it is this element that makes her work so special. Creating one-of-a-kind cookbooks derived from rich family histories and traditions, Heirloom Collaborative was established in early 2020 after her idea to commemorate her grandmother-in-law’s cooking and baking skills.
Over the course of five years, Ingber gathered recipes and images to design a personalized keepsake. After publishing, it wasn’t long before other family members and friends wanted a family memento of their own.
“I truly believe that food—the smells, the tastes, the experiences—is what carries so many memories, especially when food is so heavily related to things like holidays and traditions,” she says. “I grew up having the same dish for a certain holiday every year, so every time I think of that dish it brings me back to those moments growing up where we would celebrate … It just has that connection to memories, and I think that is what makes it so special and unique.”
The process starts with a collaborative consultation to establish the goal for the book: addressing who it is for, what are they trying to preserve, their family culture, how many recipes they want to include (40 is the average, but she has incorporated as low as 15 and as high as 75), how many images to incorporate (50 percent of recipes is recommended) and the role that the recipes play in their family.
In addition to the foundational content, Ingber seeks to add other personal touches such as family stories related to certain recipes, the origin of specific dishes and images of the original handwritten recipe cards. She uses her own template inspired by elements of her favorite cookbooks to maintain her own brand aesthetic while also providing an organized way of showcasing her clients’ diverse backgrounds and content wishes. “It is a sentimental piece that is really personal to them … I try to ensure it is everything they want and feels just right,” she says.
Her favorite part? Learning about traditions that vary from her own. “There has just been such an eclectic mix of different cultures and family history and it is just so exciting to me; the thought of being able to preserve those, not only for the family today, but for future generations,” she says.
Creating keepsakes for years to come, Ingber hopes to continue to spread joy through education and bold taste.