Slate reviews chef cookbooks
- John Tracey
Slate's bookclub this week is taking on some of the new cookbooks "written" by pros.
An interesting set of reactions, provided with pithy personality.
As it happens, in upcoming issues of OUR TOWN/WEST SIDE SPIRIT, I named Tom Colicchio's THINK LIKE A CHEF the best cookbook of the year. I've been cooking my way through it for the last month and a half, and getting precisely the promised results. As noted, it's also the most liberating cookbook in years. You really come away from it (gradually and eventually) able to food-shop without lists, knowing that Colicchio's techniques (mostly French, but all with original twists) will enable you to prepare virtually any foodstuff that looks best to you.
Anyone who's dined at Gramercy Tavern in the last four years will agree that Colicchio has (at the very least) mastered the coaxing of maximal flavors from his ingredients. His recipes for pan-roasted chicken, pan-roasted sirloin, and salsify (to say nothing of the duck recipes) are all triumphant.
What a splendid Christmas present his book would make! It should appeal to anyone just past beginners all the way up to highly skilled.
re: Tom Steele
Why do you suppose Slate has someone who doesn't really cook reviewing cookbooks? 'The banana cake recipe wasn't very good but I used the incorrect amount of butter and whole wheat flour rather than hazelnut flour as called for in the recipe...' Also, she doesn't seem to know that in fact you can "brown" the gray skin of a fish. I don't consider this person's results and opinions worth reading. And the whole debate as to whether or not chef's cookbooks are useful or not is getting tedious. Chef's cookbooks, just like non-chef cookbooks, are a varied bunch. Some are useful, exciting, and well written, and others are not.
Maybe they wanted to have non-experts tackle the books to evaluate their usefulness for people who don't know much about cooking.
Actually, I followed the link on the page to last year's discussion between Corby Kummer and Nicholas Lemann, which was just terrific if you can figure out how to view them in order.