Storytelling with flavor

rpulley@lsjournal.comMarch 5, 2014 

Rachel Ellyn, Lee’s Summit, is publishing her third children’s book this month, “You’re Toast.”

It is sort of coming of age, cookbook, fantasy tale. In the story, Little Slice, a piece of bread, is a wallflower, an underdog who dreams of joining the “Kitchen Crewe” becoming part of a gourmet recipe.

Along the way, different recipes are revealed in the book, which parents and grandparents can prepare with their children in the kitchen.

Ellyn said she likes to write children’s stories with morals like Aesop’s Fables, but tuned to be relevant to today’s children’s lives.

“I’m pretty visual,” she said. “I was trawling on the Internet and I viewed a cute little picture that made me think of the characters. Little Slice just popped into my heart.”

Ellyn said she looks for ways to make her books stand out, so she approached chefs and foodie friends in the area for recipe ideas she could include in her book.

The first was Jasper Mirable Jr., of Jasper’s restaurant in Kansas City, nationally renowned for fine dining and Italian cuisine.

“He instantly told me he was honored and flattered,” Ellyn said. He offered her his recipe for garlic toast.

Four others followed, including a James Beard-nominated chef who contributed a French toast recipe.

Her work as an author is a newer phase in her life she describes as a “disfunctional diva.” After a business career and three divorces, she said, writing is cathartic. She said it helps her gain self-knowledge and acceptance of her flaws with humor. They give her fuel for her books.

She has published two other children’s titles, “How to Pack a Pig” and “Louie Fights the Night,” along with writing adult books on divorce, dating and relationships.

Ellyn moved to Lee’s Summit about a decade ago, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York. She was living in California, her sister on the East Coast, and her mother lived here.

“Mother is a consummate worrywart, I moved here to make it easier on her,” she said.

She’s also written about business and also is on a Internet radio blog at www.everyday-kc.com.

Before reinventing herself as an author, she’d been an accountant, then an “international process consultant,” designing computer software to help with property management and for managing construction and other applications in the building industry.

She’s traveled lived around the U.S., Sacramento and in Washington, D.C., and in London four years. Settling in Lee’s Summit, with three children she realized she needed to “grab on to the mom life.”

She cut back on consulting. Started writing. She married a fourth time.

“I do believe he’s a keeper,” Ellyn said.

She has a website, rachelellyn.com, and an Internet radio blog at www.everyday-kc.com

Rachel Ellyn are her first and middle names, she decided to use them as her nom de plume because she’d had them through her “serial divorces.”

Two events are scheduled this month for kicking off the book’s publication.

Mirable is offering an “experience dinner” with a menu influenced by the book on March 13 at his Kansas City restaurant Jasper’s.

“Rachel’s book is not only a charming story about a character with moxie, it’s a recipe book of sorts,” Mirable said in a written statement. “Parents will want to get into the kitchen with their little ones and recreate the dishes from ‘You’re Toast.’ It’s the perfect recipe for fun–using toast, of course.”

For $35 per-person (plus tax and gratuity) there will be a meal inspired by the book, a signed copy is included, to make a reservation call 816-941-6600.

At 11 a.m. March 15, Ellyn will be reading and signing books during the storytelling hour at Reader’s World, 983 NE Rice Road, Lee’s Summit.

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