Gina and Karol Daly have every reason to celebrate this Christmas after cooking up a remarkable publishing feat.
Twelve months ago, the couple probably weren’t known outside their circle of social media followers who, like them, were trying to lose weight.
However, when they brought their ‘Daly Dish’ recipes from an Instagram audience into print, the reaction surpassed expectations.
They wrote the bestselling cookbook in Ireland this year and now have the highest pre-order figure in Irish retail history – with over 6,000 copies sold pre-publication.
Their debut book, The Daly Dish: 100 Masso Slimming Meals for Every Day took the coveted number six slot in the Top Ten books of 2020.
With sales of 25,851 in the Nielsen point-of-sale figures published for year ending November 2020, the Dalys outsold household cookery names like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, who also had books out this year.
They were ahead of novelists like Marian Keyes, who was in seventh position with her book, Grown Ups, which sold 25,609 copies, and Graham Norton in eighth place for his novel Home Stretch, which sold 23,937 copies.
“It’s crazy, I don’t think we still believe it considering the company that we were in, like Neven Maguire and The Happy Pear,” said Gina. “It was a shock but we are delighted.”
“The book came out on March 20, the week lockdown started, so the day our book was supposed to be in stores all the shops started to close down, so we didn’t really get to do the signings and go around to all the shops, but we were happy because we knew our book had the highest volume of pre-sales ever,” said Gina.
Gina is an illustrator and Karol runs The Bitch Box card company. The couple, from Longwood, Co Meath, have two children, Holly (12) and Ben (9).
Gina laughs about her nickname of ‘yer wan with the air fryer’ and admits her Christmas crown of turkey will probably end up being cooked that way too.
If shops didn’t know about the couple with their weight-watching ways, they quickly came to when the ingredients they used, like lemon pepper and Panko crumbs, sold out in record time. Together the couple had lost almost 10 stone by the time their debut book was published.
Their constant use of air fryers has triggered sales for electrical shops and, with the success of their first book, they are working on a second and have published a Daly Dish diary in time for the Christmas market.
Deirdre Nolan, commissioning editor at Gill Books, said that when it was announced in February, “it quickly amassed more than 6,000 pre-orders, creating unprecedented demand on Eason’s website and breaking all pre-order records for Irish bookshops”.
“I think their success is in part due to the fact that, in a year when cooking at home became one of the only forms of entertainment we had, Gina and Karol brought fun and joy into the kitchen and our lives.”
The book included recipes Gina had posted on Instagram. While the fakeaways – her version of dishes straight from the local takeaway, like satay and spice bag – were very popular, they also had a huge response to comfort food like cottage pie, stews and ragus.
“People have been tagging me every day as they make things – staples like sausage & egg McMuffin over lockdown, because all of the McDonald’s were shut and people were making them at home. Having lean pork mince is the most important thing and then use lots of sage and herby goodness in it,” she says.