Connecticut Grandmother Scores Cookbook Deal After Going Viral On TikTok
When Barbara Costello, a Connecticut-based mom and grandma, started sharing her cooking videos on TikTok at the start of the pandemic, she never dreamed it would eventually land her a cookbook deal.
"I was never on social media before I started TikTok in 2019 and Instagram just one year ago," Costello tells Allrecipes. "I honestly didn't even know what was considered a following. My daughter is the one that told me, 'Mom you have something very special here.' That's the only reason I knew we were on to something"
Overnight, Costello became a sensation, thanks to her high energy and approachable recipes. The 72 year old starts each video with "Hi, it's Babs!" before diving into everything from tequila-soaked poundcake recipes to kitchen hacks.
Costello has amassed more than 1.4 million followers on TikTok, and one of them happened to be a cookbook editor.
"I actually received an email from Alexandra, our now-editor last year around April," Costello says. "She was a follower and was very interested in publishing a book with me. My first response was no. I thought she meant an autobiography. Then in her follow-up email, she mentioned it was for a cookbook."
Costello says with a little encouragement, she agreed.
"The book has turned out beautifully, and it's really surreal seeing it for pre-sale," Costello says. "I never imagined having my own cookbook."
Celebrate With Babs, which is publishing in March 2022, is organized by holiday, and starts with New Year's Day.
"The book covers love, family, and food all rooted by traditions," Costello explains. "Within each chapter, you will find recipes to make for that holiday and stories about our family traditions for that holiday as well."
Costello tells Allrecipes that it only takes two years to start a tradition in your own family, and the traditions she shares (in the book) are ones readers can start with their families, as well.
"Most of the recipes in the book are from my old, wooden stained recipe box," she says. "Stuffed with recipes from family and friends. I love how the book takes you through the year (and) I also share motherly advice (and) entertaining tips."
Though social media can often be a critical space, Costello is thankful for the connections she has made around the world.
"I get so many messages each week that I've helped fill a hole or space in many lives that are missing their mothers or grandmothers," she says. "It is the thing that really keeps me going."
While Costello, who is a mom of four and grandmother of eight — Mary, Mathew, Grace, Charlotte, Finley, Charlie, Ford, and Scooter — loves cooking, it's playing a maternal role that is her true passion.
"My grandkids are my world," she shares. "I've always felt like I was put on this earth to be a mom and I feel the same way about being a grandmother."