For years, local bookseller Peter Miller had only an epistolary relationship with Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, two women behind the beloved Canal House cookbook series.
“They had someone send their book to us four years ago and asked if we would carry [their books],” explained Miller, as he prepped lunch for the staff of the architecture firm Suyama Peterson Deguchi. “We carried it for years, and they started sending us notes that said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ and we started sending them notes that said, ‘Merry Christmas.’”
As the friendship developed, the Canal House series steadily gained popularity all over the country. “It turns out they have an army of people who love what they do,” said Miller.
The three met in person only last December when Hirsheimer and Hamilton came to town for an event. By that time, Miller himself was working on a cookbook, based around the lunches he makes for his staff. For the book, fittingly titled “Lunches at the Shop,” Miller asked Hamilton and Hersheimer to help out with the visuals. So, in their Lambertiville, N.J., studio, the duo made and photographed all of the 40-odd recipes in the book, and in the course of it, really got a sense of Miller’s approach.
“We felt like there was this kinship,” said Hamilton. “We’ve been living with Peter Miller for weeks.” After the project concluded, the three decided Hersheimer and Hamilton would make trip to Seattle, to see Miller’s lunch skills in action, and do a signing of their James Beard Award-winning book, “Canal House Cooks Every Day” (which will be today from 3 to 6 p.m. at Peter Miller Books, 2326 Second Ave., Seattle).
Miller, who was busy prepping food for 12 people, not long ago moved from his location of 25 years, on First and Virginia, into the space at the front of the Suyama offices on Second and Battery. He had developed the habit of making lunch for his staff, but now with the architects at Suyama to feed, he faces a considerably less leisurely task.
“Normally, lunch at the shop is for three or four,” he laughed. “I’m going to have to get out of it. I’m gonna need help!”