The literary and publishing world, and our own Barbecue Bible community, lost a great friend yesterday with the death of Workman Publishing founder Peter Workman. Peter is the man responsible for such amazing international blockbusters as What to Expect When You’re Expecting, A Thousand Places to Visit Before You Die, The Silver Palate Cookbook, The New Basics, the French Laundry Cookbook—and closer to home, The Barbecue Bible series.
Peter’s visionary career spanned four decades. He had a unique knack for publishing books that weren’t just the final word on a subject (“category killers”, he called them), but were fun. Above, he is pictured with mock-ups of the Barbecue Bus—the vehicle that accompanied the BBQ USA and Best Ribs Ever book tours as I crisscrossed the USA. (A typical Workman book tour takes the author of a book to 20 or 30 cities.)
Peter and his staff were ruthless perfectionists, sparing no time or expense to make each book the best it could be. Sometimes (as was the case of Planet Barbecue), Peter would look at more than 100 different cover layouts to pick just the right one. “When your name is on the cover,” he would say, “you owe it to your readers to get it right.”
Peter was a guy’s guy. He embraced life (he was an inveterate golfer, skier, and gastronome) and like the perfect gentleman he was, honored fair play. He is survived by his wife, Carolan, daughters Katie and Elizabeth, several grandchildren, and a staff that will strive to honor the values and great books Peter stood for. The above photo was taken at Barbecue University with Peter and our star editor, Suzanne Rafer. Peter, we will miss you.