Written by JJ Barnes
I was delighted to interview The Jabberwocky chef and writer Barny Luxmoore about his new book, Toastie Construction Manual. He talks about his motivation, experience in the food industry, and advice for others.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am Barny Luxmoore co-owner and half of The Jabberwocky. I started out in the food industry as a chef and then in 2011 me and my (now) wife bought an old food van and started on the road of self-employment. We have now sold 100,000 toasties all over the UK and so a toastie recipe book seemed like the ideal choice of cookbook to write.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
Flic was writing a book about starting a street food business (available on Amazon) and I as a bit envious (also she needed me to be quiet while she was writing) so I started my own project without any real hope of finishing it in the next 10 years.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I started writing in 2015 (mostly to stay out of Flic’s way), whenever I had time. This included a couple of very quiet festivals.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It took about 5 years. I started in 2015 and finally published it in November 2020. However, for at least 3 years I didn’t do any work except think about it. I think it took about 100 hours to do the words, pictures and publishing
What made you want to write Toastie Construction Manual?
I am obsessed with toasties. I make and sell them for a living which should mean that I never want to eat them. This could not be further from the truth. I have one pretty much every day. It was great to get that love of a food down on paper.
When I first started writing a recipe book it was just a lose collection of things I make. It had no focus or overall theme so it just didn’t work. I then realized that the food I know most about and that I love eat (proably) more than any other is the one that my book should be about.
Plus everyone loves giving advice and that what this is. I get to give as much advice as I want and it is on a subject that I think I can consider myself an expert
What were your biggest challenges with writing Toastie Construction Manual?
The most important part of the book is ironically the exploded diagrams of the toasties that go along side each recipe. I am not a natural artist so I had to work hard to make the images as good as possible.
I was also doing this without professional programs. I couldn’t afford to spend hundreds of pounds on Photoshop or Illustrator, so I did everything with free open source programs. In the case of the pictures it was paint.net. Then for the publishing I again didn’t own a desktop publishing program I had to download and learn a new program. In this case another free program called Scribus.
What was your research process for Toastie Construction Manual?
I didn’t really do much research in the traditional sense, as this is a subject I have spent the last 10 years learning about. To be an expert at something you have to put in 10,000 hours and I have definitely done that since 2011
How did you plan the structure of Toastie Construction Manual?
Once I decided to call it the Toastie Construction Manual (this was only decided once I started on the diagrams) I made an effort to make the book as logical and fluff free as possible. I wanted this to be a user manual not a life story. With that in mind the book naturally fell into 3 distinct sections (toastie instructions, component recipes and other info).
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Toastie Construction Manual need?
I got feedback from Flic as she knows toasties as well as I do these days. She is also an excellent writer so she was a huge help. My parents and Flic also proof read the book for me. They found a lot more than spelling issues. Proof reading is something I am particularly poor at, as I am dyslexic so I just don’t notice grammatical and spelling errors.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Give it a go, it is fun once you get started.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I am planning on doing a series of books inspired by the Toastie Construction Manual. These will be called Kitchen Operator Handbooks. Hopefully book 2 will be out before xmas.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes I am very proud of what I have done. It might not be perfect or sell thousands of copies a day, but having talked about it for 5 years it is great to have done something about it at last. Plus just after publishing for a day it made into the top 1% of all books on Amazon and with 6 million on there I think that is something to be proud of.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08NDVHX5M – book on Amazon
My social media is the business social media and can be found