Most helpful critical review
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Too Expensive, for too small a portion
on November 1, 2003
This book may look like a work of culinary photojournalism, being a chronicle of a day in the life of Chef Boulud at his three Manhattan restaurants. While the book has some of the ingredients which would comprise such a work, it is actually a book of recipes from his three restaurants hung on a rather thin framework of the day in the life of a major restaurant kitchen.
The framework text can be read in less than an hour and contains several errors in punctuation and word usage which a copy editor should have corrected. The design of the text presentation is equally poor. There are shifts in font to signify changes in topic or voice. Some pages of text look like something out of Alice in Wonderland or Monty Python with staggered letters and words and poor choices of text / background color contrasts. Very difficult to read, what little of it there is.
As in some other recipe books I've seen, a minority of the photographs display the food and it's preparation while the majority of the photographs show restaurant workers and celebrity friends of Chef Daniel hamming it up for the camera.
This leaves the recipes. In 234 pages, there are a scant 80 recipes, all of which are presented as being from one of Boulud's restaurants, and, most are indeed recipes one would not likely make at home. There is a high incidence of unusual and expensive ingredients such as pig's head, and some downright bizarre, such as piballes worms. Many of the recipes are also very long in the preparation. Unlike every other cookbook I have reviewed up until now, I did not bother to actually make any of the recipes therein, as it was apparent that except for a few, mostly breads and desserts, these were not the kind of dishes the average person would make, even for entertaining. (This is not typical of restaurant cookbooks, as I find no difficulty making many of the recipes in Mario Batali's Babbo cookbook.) A good case in point is the db hamburger made with truffles, foie gras, and comfit, oh my.
Most recipes include a wine recommendation giving a specific vineyard and year, about which I can have no opinion except that it does nothing to enhance the value of the book for me. A type of wine such as `chardonnay' or `merlot' would have been quite good enough. I will give a small nod to their wine recommendation of `beer' for some of the dishes.
The book includes a list of sources, a requirement for these recipes with many unusual ingredients.
In all, I think the only value to purchasing this book is if one wishes to dine at one or more of Daniel Boulud's restaurants often and wish to know what goes into his stuff or, if one wishes to create a restaurant menu very similar to Boulud's fare. One may find some value to looking through this book at a library if one wants to research variations on a particular recipe.
In sum, recipes may be good, but there are too few and the presentation is poor. Other restaurant / celebrity chef books do much better.