First Lady Ann Scott plans cookbook with historic Florida theme

The first lady of Florida has come up with a tasty new offering in time for the holidays: a cookbook with a historic Florida theme.

Ann Scott, the wife of Gov. Rick Scott, says the cookbook will be a collection of favorite recipes of former first ladies of Florida who have lived in the Governor’s Mansion, along with photos and biographies of each of them, from Mary Call Collins to Carole Crist.

“The idea could not have come at a better time, since 2013 marks Florida’s 500th anniversary. Viva Florida is the perfect theme,” Mrs. Scott said Thursday in announcing a few details of the project at a meeting of the Governor’s Mansion Commission.

The seven-member commission maintains the grounds, furnishings and historical elements of the official state residence, located at 700 North Adams Street in Tallahassee, north of the state Capitol.

Viva Florida 500 is the official name of the state’s year-long observance of the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon’s discovery of the state.

The cookbook’s title will be La Florida, in honor of the quincentenary celebration. It will feature a foreword by former mansion chef Art Smith.

The mansion, which welcomes thousands of visitors annually, is renowned for food with Florida touches: shrimp and grouper, Apalachicola oysters, oranges and grapefruit.

The Scotts’ own taste in food is described by the state chef as “high-styled plating,” said state chef Justin Timineri, who has cooked for the past four governors. His culinary skills are revered by the Scotts, who at official dinners praise the 38-year-old chef’s mastery in the kitchen.

“Gov. Scott and Mrs. Scott definitely have great tastes as well,” Timineri said in an interview with Florida Trend magazine. “Their taste is more high-styled plating, restaurant-styled plating, rather than family style.”

The governor’s office was unable to provide details about when the cookbook would be available to the public or how much it would cost.

Two former Florida first ladies also published cookbooks.

Mrs. Collins, the wife of Gov. Leroy Collins (governor from 1955-1961), published the 200-page My Favorite Recipes in 1956, which includes recipes of another time: french-fried shrimp, pickled shrimp, scalloped oysters and other Southern favorites.

Donna Lou Harper Askew, wife of Gov. Reubin Askew, followed with another cookbook, Recipes from Florida Governor’s Mansion, in the 1970s, with recipes for cool summer salad and Florida spoon bread.

Copies of neither are at the Governor’s Mansion, but they are on file at the state archives.