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The Chef's New Essential Cookbook

There are hundreds of cookbooks released every year (I know because I am addicted to amazon.com), yet very few can be revered as “essential” A book that will appear on every serious chef’s desk, must be one that defines a new standard, is the reference most used, carries the beauty and soul of the food that the author considers his or her signature, and approaches food in a timeless way.

Daniel Boulud’s new cookbook (actually much more than a cookbook) is just that. I do order way too many cookbooks, but in this case I had very high expectations and found myself excited when it finally arrived.

This book does not disappoint in any way, in fact it offers some value added information that was quite unexpected. I have been around for a while and was trained in kitchens that were fairly classical in nature. Many of those dishes and preparations are long forgotten, yet to a professional they become an important part of the history of the profession.

The first 260 plus pages are dedicated to spectacular dishes that you might find on Daniel’s menu. The recipes are accessible and user-friendly and the photographs are fabulous. Having had the fortune to dine at Daniel in the past I can attest to the fact that what you see in the book reflects the same quality that you will find at this superb NYC restaurant.

The next 100 pages focus on what Daniel refers to as “Iconic Sessions”, demonstrating the very complex process of preparing those items from the past that were the staples of Classic French Cuisine during the times of Careme and Point (and to some degree the first hotel kitchens that I worked in). I am not sure that many of us could replicate the dishes offered, but again, I found it refreshing to have an opportunity to look back.

The book finishes with some basic recipes for foundational items and reference terms. All-in-all a tremendous, beautiful book that can serve as a coffee table focal point, a challenge for the serious home cook, but most importantly a book that will likely be worn out in a professional chef’s office.

This is a “must have” book for all of my chef friends. Rush out to purchase it or put it on your Christmas list!