Top critical review
16 people found this helpful
on August 27, 2012
I had a sinking feeling I wasn't going to like this guy -- or his cookbook -- on reading the initial sentence of his book. "On my first drive up to Waccabuc, a rural town in upstate New York, I told my wife, Marja, that I probably wouldn't like the place. We had decided to buy a weekend home .... I had assumed we would find a house in the Hamptons. I love the beach..."
You absolutely, positively need to have some trendy, pretentious place, huh? A potentially beautiful, wholesome, rustic, peaceful idyll beloved by lots of good people is just not good enough for you, eh, J-G? Oh, you love the beach, do you? So of course it absolutely must be nothing less than the Hamptons (snif), the Jersey shore just won't do, that's for us peons that are far beneath you.
And that's in a nutshell what's wrong with this cookbook. To paraphrase, I now think perhaps one's cookbook is the mirror into the soul, or something like that. The recipes are cheap, cheesy, excruciatingly trendy and shallow, pretentious, and with utter disdain for traditional, tried-and-true, beloved dishes. Many pages are mostly blank, with some lousy little recipe for some crostini justifying the page's existence. And don't get me started on the phony pretentious pictures of phony pretentious people partying, with phony smiles where the mouth is curled up, but the eyes say something very different. It's all staged, for show.
In a world full of cookbooks that feature "new flavors" and "new foods", clearly just for the sake of being new, this is one of the worst in my opinion. Buy this book and buy him his house in the Hamptons, if you must, but know that's the only reason for this dreck of a book's existence.
If you want *really* well-done and useful cookbooks, I recommend the following. These are substantial books, densely filled with numerous recipes where the author obviously cared to make something of lasting value. Instead of some perfunctory, cheap, smoke-and-mirrors pap thrown at his hysterical fashion-food groupies.
Any of the Thomas Keller books are endlessly useful and engaging, and reflect sincere hard work put into their production. Robuchon is a great addition to a serious high-end library, as are the books by Michel Roux and Paul Bocuse. Even if you're into modernist, "molecular" cuisine, Grant Achat's book Alinea is something that he obviously put a lot of himself into, and you won't want to part with.
(Flamers, friends of this G-J chef, etc., don't bother, I know worthwhile cookbooks when I see one, and I absolutely, positively don't see one here. Note that virtually all the hysterically-wonderful 5-star reviews were all written around the same time, within about a 6-week period, some within days of each other, around December 2011 - January 2012. Of course, that's not any indication many of them were from shills with a financial interest in this book. Of course not.)