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Culinary Artistry Paperback – November 4, 1996

154 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

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

From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 4, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471287857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471287858
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 146 people found the following review helpful By disco75 on October 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a self-taught home cook who enjoys the activities of the kitchen. I entered the cooking arena one of the standard ways, using cookbooks. Collections of recipes familarized me with the techniques and ethnic cooking styles. Gradually, my cookbook collection included reference books that provided some of the theory behind tastes and preparation styles. Gold's 1-2-3 series, Peterson's Sauces, and others introduced to me the philosophies that allow a cook to go beyond mimicking a recipe to improvising and even creating a dish. Culinary Artistry is perhaps the best available reference for learning about the traditions of combining flavors and food groups.
It contains vital information that I suspect is taught only in some of the culinary schools. It provides valuable charts of information about cooking and menu planning. The book contains sections on Menus, including a seasonality chart and a chart explaining successful seasoning combinations. There is a section for Composing Flavors, the highlight of which is a chart showing successful food contrasts. Another section involves Composing A Dish. Here there is a chart showing great food matches and one showing seasoning matches. The Composing A Menu section offers a chart showing frequent accompaniments to meats and paragraphs presenting theories about Hors Douevres, Cheeses, and Desserts. This was a sparse and incomplete passage in an otherwise comprehensive book. Finally, there was a fun section addressing the Evolution of Chef's Styles. Here the authors provide sample menus comparing chef's offerings from earlier decades to their present day productions.
The volume offers multiple anecdotes, quotes, and side bars concerning the views of popular chefs. Various recipes are interspersed to illustrate the principles.
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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
"FLAVOR MATCHMAKING: Some cooks look to books not for precise ingredients and specific instructions, but for inspiration. I've got a book for those cooks.
It's the loftily named CULINARY ARTISTRY by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (1996), also the authors of the better known BECOMING A CHEF. It's not a cookbook per se. Nor is it a treatise on the techniques every cook ought to know. And it's certainly not a collection of culinary prose. It's more a style manual for those who need to find out if a certain something will go with another certain something.
The most relevant information is found in the aptly named section 'Matches Made In Heaven.' Arranged alphabetically, the list comprises about 328 ingredients and seasonings and, for each ingredient listed, the authors provide several complementary flavors. It may not come as any surprise that the entries under beef ribs read ginger, horseradish, mustard, potatoes, tomatoes.
But it is incredibly liberating, when in a chicken rut, to alight on the appropriate page and find 57 compatible ingredients for a plain old hen. When the vegetable bin is overflowing with leafy greens or I'm flummoxed over a side dish for a dinner party, I consider it a godsend to flip through the pages and decide on mustard with the greens and walnuts with the watercress.
And it's inspiring to be reminded in the midst of Thanksgiving chaos that perhaps that pear dish needs a sprinkling of black pepper rather than a drizzle of honey. As with any reference work, it's not the entire book I value so much as a particular page or two in a desperate moment.
The balance of the book's 426 pages are chapters on composing a dish and a menu, complete with advice from restaurant chefs. I confess I haven't read the book cover to cover. And I doubt I ever will. But it's nevertheless the one book that regularly makes the commute from office desk to kitchen counter." ...
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
Culinary Artistry is a book some may passover or leaf through in the bookstore for the likes of the Joy of Cooking or a Martha Stewart volume 20 cookbook. But look closer, the charts and the what-goes-well-with-what sections of this book alone are worth the price if only to give the food lover an inspired moment to create a dish with ingredients he or she may love. If you find yourself saying, "gee, I'd really love to have salmon tonight but I don't know what to put with it", pick up this book, find Salmon and refer to the extensive list of items that the interviewed chefs prefer with it and an idea is born. After that, all it takes is a little know-how in the kitchen and you've created your very own gourmet meal. If you choose to read from front to back you'll also discover page after page of insightful information from some of the nation's top chef's. Take your time, it's not a novel but it can be read like one and used as reference even after you've reached the last page. For the money, this is a book that will stay on your shelf for years to come and still manage to provide a new idea each time. So put down the Martha Stewart Haloween cookie issue and give Culinary Artistry a try, "It's a good thing". Sorry about that last one, she's infectious.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Teti on October 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being a true food & wine lover and amateur cook, I do not regret having got this book but there are some aspects that should not be disregarded as the title can be a bit misleading.
First of all, although it was clear from the start, it is not a cookbook at all. Far from it, it is neither a book on the techniques every cook should know nor a collection of useful or good recipes. It is rather a reference book for food lovers and potentially for chefs.

Food matching is the most interesting section of the book. No doubt this is the perfect book for somebody who is not looking for specific dishes or ingredients, but for inspiration. However, having already bought "The Flavor Bible", you will notice that Culinary Artistry not only has some overlapping with `the bible" but also is rather incomplete. That is quite disappointing...

Admittedly, this book is quite useful for a reference concerning matching different food, although many of the matchs look standard, and any chef should know what goes with what. In all cases, it can be a good place to find ideas, or to remember food combinations, and the tables are very clear.

The biggest complaint - to the extent I was about to ask for a replacement or refund, is that, having received the book by mail, I could not notice that the book has rough uncut irregular edges making it impossible to browse through its pages. I also wonder whether I got a faulty or second hand book.
It comes as a surprise as the book deals with presentation and sense-inviting meals (e.g. flat food vs. architectural presentation)

As to the paper quality and the presentation itself, don't expect a great thing: it lacks pictures showing the artistic presentation of the finished plates.Certainly presentation is in my opinion part of food artistry.
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