Food stylist and culinary producer Libbie Summers has turned her love of all things pork into a quirky cookbook with creative recipes and engaging dialogue.
The Savannah-based foodie spent much of her childhood at her grandparents' hog farm in Missouri, developing an appreciation for pigs early in life. That appreciation, combined with years of culinary experience, inspired her to write "The Whole Hog Cookbook."
"I wanted to do this really cool book that shows people how to take the whole pig and use it," she said. "I use every little bit of the hog, and I don't throw anything away."
Summers developed her culinary skills aboard private yachts, cooking exotic meals in exotic locales. Her talents are mostly self-taught and acquired over years of interacting with other chefs and cooking styles.
"I love working with people one-on-one, and I've traveled internationally so much that I've picked up a lot," she said. "I find people and beg them to let me cook with them for like a week."
Summers moved to Savannah with her husband in 2003, where she eventually became the culinary producer of celebrity chef Paula Deen's show, "Paula's Home Cooking," on the Food Network.
"Anything you see on televisions, or anything in motion - like a video or a commercial - with food involved, always has a culinary producer who's in charge of making sure everything looks beautiful," explained Summers.
After three seasons with the show, Summers decided to take her career in a new direction, and the opportunity to write her book arose.
"I've found writing and doing my own thing is a lot more personal and fulfilling, and I have more control over things," she said.
"The Whole Hog" was published in September and has been well-received by critics.
Summers will present the book and a behind-the-scenes look at her profession at the Savannah Book Festival on Feb. 18 at 9:30 a.m. in the Telfair Sculpture Gallery. Afterward, she will be available to sign copies of her book at the Ex Libris Book Sales tent on W. President Street.
"It's such a huge honor to be a local author that's invited to the festival," she said. "I'm totally over the moon about it."
Summers is currently working on a second cookbook and is in negotiations with producers regarding the possibility of her own cooking show.