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Damn Good Food: 157 Recipes from Hell's Kitchen Hardcover – October 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

In Damn Good Food, Mitch Omer reveals the recipes that have made his restaurant a pleasure seeker's destination, including inventions like his tart, ethereal Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes; dark, wild Bison Sausage Bread; and sweet, creamy Mahnomin Porridge. These dishes have the hungry and eager queued up out the doors of Hell's Kitchen, often for hours, and now you can make them at home.

Food writer Ann Bauer also gives us a glimpse behind the scenes, revealing Omer's darker side, the side responsible for the decor of Hell's Kitchen, described as the "nightmare side of Sesame Street." Bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, and a former addict, Omer's roller-coaster ride of a life has taken him through many towns and love affairs, numerous jobs, and even more controlled substances. But through it all, there has been food--recipes inspired by places and people, including Omer's own close-knit family, reworked and made his own. He beats back his demons every day with his dad's caramel rolls and coleslaw, locally raised bison burgers smeared with his mom's mustard, and his own famous homemade peanut butter, and he invites you in to share it all.

"Mitch makes extraordinary food. But even more important, he makes extraordinary life. And he knows what one has to do with the other--how food is only part of the equation. This is a man who wakes up every day curious, full of gale-force curiosity and joy."

–from the book

"If you have time for only one meal in Minneapolis or Duluth, we strongly urge you not to go to Hell's Kitchen. Coming for just one meal will be insanely frustrating. There are too many outstanding things to eat. You will walk out yearning for the likes of hand-pulled corned beef hash, char-broiled pit ham, baked huevos rancheros, and a dozen other items for which there was no space on the table."

–Jane and Michael Stern, Gourmet, December 2008

Mitch Omer is the chef-owner of Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis and Duluth. Ann Bauer was food editor at Minnesota Monthly and is the author of the novel Wild Ride up the Cupboards.

From the Publisher

"Mitch Omer's life makes Anthony Bourdain's look like he was an altar boy. Mitch's individualistic, personal, and idiosyncratic cooking is that of a man who is larger than life, big-hearted, generous, and wild. It's evident that he genuinely loves life and nature."
--Jacques Pépin

"I started out wanting this book for Mitch Omer's Sausage Bread recipe, that would be worth the price. Then I dug into his story as told by Ann Bauer. Expecting same old, same old warm fuzzy little chef's memoir, instead I got the story of a man living life full blast, wrestling with reality, compulsively open hearted, and cooking for all he is worth. Nothing about this book is what you'd expect -- from recipes that defy fashion and taste great, to writing that literally keeps you flipping the pages. This one's a keeper of the first order."
--Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table®, public radio's national food show from American Public Media

"If the `same old' food is haunting you, turn up the heat and put the sizzle back into your cooking! You won't have to sell your soul to the devil to get your hands on these damn good recipes. Award winning chef/owner Mitch Omer of Minneapolis' own Hell's Kitchen has assembled his most requested concoctions and potions in his new cookbook. `Heaven's Just A Sin Away!' I love the food in this cookbook--it is so sinfully tasty you'd swear it's almost heavenly. Buy this cookbook now or you'll go straight to hell!"
--"Famous Dave" Anderson, Founder of Famous Dave's of America
Legendary Real Pit Barbeque!

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Borealis Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873517245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873517249
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I stumbled into Hell's Kitchen on a trip to Minneapolis during a quick trip. While eating a slice of Bison bread with the most amazing peanut butter I had ever had slathered on top.. I never wanted to leave. Lemon Ricotta pancakes, Mahnomin Porridge, Mitch's food spoke to me.. and I knew I was eating food I would never get anywhere else. Every sauce was made by hand, and the experience was glorious. I left taking a jar of peanut butter with me and I have told many others since .. If you ever get a chance to get to Minneapolis ... YOU have to eat here. I thought about the restaurant often, signed up on their website for the newsletter, and was thrilled to hear that Mitch had written a cookbook! I pre-ordered it from the restaurant, added in a jar of the to die for peanut butter.. and waited patiently for it to arrive. If you enjoy cookbooks that are more than recipes, you will love the story this book tells. There is love on every page. Love of friends, food, and love for a troubled man who has surrounded himself with a terrific support system so he succeeds in life. Ann Bauer does a wonderful job capturing the experience of Hell's Kitchen, in the writing and the photos. I was astonished to find ALL of the recipes from the menu in the pages of the book. THANK YOU! Not sure I will ever attempt some of them, but I can droll over them, and look forward to the next time I get
to Minneapolis. And I just might try to make the peanut butter myself!
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Format: Hardcover
Being a fan of Hell's Kitchen, I had heard that Mitch was working on a cookbook. I didn't think much of it, because I know that I would just rather eat at the restaurant (I'm not so great in the kitchen). I flipped through the book the last time I was at Hell's and found myself absorbed in reading it immediately. This is not JUST a cook book... Mitch's life is very interesting and he's straight forward and honest about the good, the bad and the ugly!

Love all the photos too... good shots of the food, but also good photos of Mitch's family and friends in and out of the restaurant, gives you a great sense of what and who's behind the magic!
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Format: Hardcover
I am compelled to write this review after hearing that the author died this week. I am kind of embarrassed that I have not reviewed it earlier. I purchased this book at Hell's Kitchen when I lived in Minneapolis. The real Hell's Kitchen, as I like to call it, is a restaurant in Minneapolis. I can't believe I have to mention this, but a number of the negative reviews were of people who didn't realize that this book has nothing to do with the similarly named TV show which came out well after this fine restaurant was established. Anyway, I used to wait in long lines just to squeeze into their tiny, original location for a taste of what I think was the finest brunch food in Minneapolis.

I didn't make much use of it until I moved away. I craved many of the dishes that one could get there. I would say the recipes I use most are: Maple-Glazed Bison Sausage, Mahnomin Porridge, Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes, and the condiment recipes (ketchup from hell, world famous PB, etc.). I can attest that the recipes in the book are true to their in restaurant counterparts. Because of this, because they is really the truly real recipes from the restaurant (so to speak), they can be complex or require ingredients that likely will need to be ordered online (like Carbon's Golden Malted Pancake and Waffle Flour). A number of reviewers have complained about the complexity, but I absolutely do not mind. I appreciate that Mitch chose to share the real deal...to give us readers/cooks the benefit of the doubt in terms of our abilities and not dumb it down or oversimplify them. In my mind, as long as you know going in that these are the actual restaurant recipes scaled down, one gets this book to savor something they experienced and want to recapture at home.
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Format: Hardcover
Minneapolis's own Hell's Kitchen is no relation to the television show of same name but it is just as intense, and reading the story behind its success is even better than watching Chef Ramsay yell. The vivacious chef and owner of our local hellish hotspot is Mitch Omer. He joins literary forces with Ann Bauer, an unfulfilled food writer. Bauer gains a new zest for life, love, and all things gastronomical after chronicling Omer's tumultuous rise from dysfunction and suicidal tendencies to beloved and edgy chef.

Omer's fascinating story of mental health, drugs, and gluttony fill the pages of this cookbook. From rebellious son to drug-filled bouncer to backroom cook, the storyline is intermingled with recipes acquired during the many stages of Omer's turbulent life.

"He started snorting blow every night and then zipping through the dining room, making funny, charming small talk with the guests. When cocaine got too expensive, Mitch switched to crystal meth. And eventually, when even meth failed to send him, he started smoking PCP."
-pg 33

Damn Good Food is a meat-lovers wet dream. Carnivorous taste buds will salivate with recipes like "Biscuits with Rabbit Gravy," "Antelope Stroganoff," and "Bison Benedict." The mashed potatoes even sport an impressive `2 cups rich chicken broth." Vegetarians shouldn't shy away from dishes, like "Mahnomi Porridge," "Hot Damn Buttered Pretzels," and "Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes." In addition to its range of recipes, another distinguishing factor to this cookbook is the completeness. There are directions for tartar sauce, curries, rubs, and even peanut butter. If a recipe calls for mayo or Jamaican jerk rub, you have a reference to that recipe.
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