- File: Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
- Loreen Benner
Vermont's unofficial cookbook queen is ceding the throne.
South Burlington's Loreen Benner says she is selling off her collection of more than 3,200 cookbooks, signaling an end to her reign after more than a decade.
Benner, whose immense collection was the subject of a 2009 Seven Days story, began her cookbook journey in the late 1990s after tracking down on eBay a copy of the 1930s-era Household Searchlight Recipe Book to replace one her mother had lost. From there, she scoured online marketplaces, tag sales and library sell-offs, while her late husband scooped up any cookbook left at the Champlain Solid Waste District drop-off point where he worked. Together, they amassed one of Vermont's largest collections of printed recipes.
Speaking to Seven Days last week, Benner gave a simple reason for her decision to move on: She's preparing to downsize into a smaller house.
"I'm trying to get rid of everything I don't want or need anymore," the 63-year-old said.
What's less straightforward is how to go about selling such a load. "I can't find anyone who wants to buy it as one whole piece," she said.
Benner has ditched the idea of passing on her massive collection intact and is instead offering it up through what she's calling "mystery boxes" stuffed with random titles. She's priced the boxes at $10, $20 and $30 based on size and says she will allow prospective buyers to peek inside only to gauge whether the books are hardcover or softcover.
The mystery boxes contain numerous first editions as well as some autographed copies, including one from Paula Deen. Just don't expect to find any of the collector's personal favorites, such as Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House Cookbook. Those she's keeping for herself.