If you really find food fascinating--the idea of food, working with food, and the eating of food--then Culinary Artistry
should be on your bookshelf. There are two books at work here. One is What Chefs Have to Say About the Foods They Create
. The other is Fun with Food Spread Sheets
. A cynic might suggest that after putting together Becoming a Chef
, the authors had so much leftover interview material that Culinary Artistry
was but the natural outcome. The chef's point of view, however, would be to make use of everything passing through the kitchen, to throw nothing away. In other words, if Becoming a Chef
is an entrée, then Culinary Artistry
is the special of the day.
The book is divided into sections that discuss and reach out to chefs to join in that discussion of such ideas as the chef as artist, dealing with sensory perception in food, composing with flavors, putting a dish together, putting together an entire menu, and standing back to admire the growth of a personal cuisine. This is thoughtful material. It is not how-to material. These guided conversations are made practical for the home cook by charts such as which foods are in season and when, the basic flavors of foods (bananas are sweet; anchovies are salty), food matches made in heaven (lamb chops with aioli or ginger or shallots), seasoning matches made in heaven (dill and salmon), flavors of the world (Armenia means parsley and yogurt), common accompaniments to entrées (beef and potatoes), and, most fun of all, the desert-island lists of many of the chefs quoted so extensively throughout the text. Many recipes accompany the text.
How this will affect any individual's own culinary art, be that professional or personal, remains unclear. It may be as private an experience as reading. For the uninitiated, this book will prove that there's a lot more going on with food and restaurants and chefs than they may ever have imagined. --Schuyler Ingle
In this ambitious guidebook to the current state of culinary art in American restaurants, the authors offer a comprehensive flavor catalog of comestibles that constitutes a palate-pleasing palette of the spectrum of gustatory stimuli. They flesh out long lists with reflections and observations on the craft of cooking by some of the world's most illustrious chefs, both historical and contemporary. These philosophical ruminations give the up-and-coming chef an understanding of the evolution of taste in the past half century by comparing the classic tastes of France's Fernand Point with the tastes of current celebrity chefs, such as Alice Waters and Rick Bayless. Although short on prescription (hence, the paucity of recipes), the book is exhaustive in its rosters of flavor complements. So extensive are the volume's lists that the book is useful as a reference tool for only the most serious chefs and die-hard foodies. Mark Knoblauch