It all started with a website, where photographer Todd Selby posted shots of his friends in their homes. Next came a project with Louis Vuitton, a spin-off book, and, most recently, a column in The New York Times T Magazine. It’s this latest development—scrapbook-y pages of playful illustrations, hand-written notes, and photographs of people in the food world—in which Selby seems to have found his calling. It even inspired his second book, Edible Selby, out this month. Here’s an inside look:
How did you end up focusing on food-related spaces? My first book, The Selby is In Your Place, did well, and I started thinking about what I wanted to do next. My passion has always been food and cooking and eating and restaurants and chefs, and I thought I could figure out a way to approach the food world in a new way.
How would you describe the book? It has a feeling of a photo book meets a cookbook, but more than anything it’s a travel guide. You can look through it and get fun ideas for places to visit.
How did you discover the places? The best stuff in the book was very much word of mouth. I talked to chef Ignacio Mattos at New York’s Il Buco Alimentari, and he knew all these people who were connected to Chez Panisse. From them I met this guy who told me about this fisherman who told me about the guy who does Japanese catering.
What was one of your favorite finds? Hartwood in Tulum. The chef ended up being on the cover. I would call this a chef’s fantasy. It was so DIY—just the him and his wife creating the ultimate chef’s table, piled high with vegetables from the jungle.
What was your most memorable meal from the road? This old man has a restaurant on a cliff in Mallorca, and he makes paella over a fire. You can only get there by boat. Actually, you can also hike down to it, but the chicer way is to take a boat. He’s had it since the 70’s. One of the people there said Halle Berry and Tom Hanks had recently visited, so it’s not a secret anymore.
What about back home in New York? I’m an investor with Mission Chinese, and I’m obsessed with the catfish soup. It has pink peppercorn, so it’s a bit numbing; I just get into this zone where I’m eating it and I’m sweating, and it’s just incredible. I also love the bakery Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn. The sad thing is I’ve seen what they put in the pies. With pastry it’s better to never know. I got the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year; if you’re not on the waiting list right now then forget it.
Brooke Porter is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure
Photo of Todd Selby courtesy Hadassa Haack