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Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America's Top Restaurants Hardcover – October 11, 2011

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Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America's Top Restaurants + Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants + Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Welcome Books (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599621029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599621029
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Marissa Guggiana takes the question, “What’s for dinner?” to America’s best restaurants. In a fresh, entertaining twist, she doesn’t offer the restaurant’s specialities. This is a treasure trove of creative recipes for staff meals, complete with mouthwatering food photos, casual snapshots of the back-of-the-house and interviews with the chefs. For all of us who’d love to peek into restaruant kitchens and make off with their tricks and best recipes, OFF THE MENU is perfection.”
-- BETH GOEHRING, Editor-in-Chief, The Good Cook Book Club

" For Marissa Guggiana, destination trumps any issues of distance if it means camaraderie and good food.  In researching Off The Menu, she visited fifty-one of the nation’s best restaurants, sharing staff meals with the owners, chefs, waiters, and bussers. Her inventive book presents one hundred recipes for those dishes, grouped by restaurant—Seattle’s Lark, Aquavit, in Manhattan, and Bluestem, in Kansas City, among them. Clearly, this is more than just another cookbook.

      Guggiana’s introduction to each section conveys the quality of the experience and the character of the places and people she met. This is enhanced by profiles of owners and chefs, revealed through the classic Escoffier Questionnaire, a series of queries regarding favorite foods, kitchen equipment, ingredient sources, etc. Who knew that so many leading tastemakers would choose a cheeseburger over foie gras? As with all enticing cookbooks, there are sumptuous photographs of food. But the lens here is also trained on “families” of workers sharing an amazing meal either before or after the dinner service. These behind-the scenes additions make this book entertaining for even wannabe cooks.

      Of the recipes that form the heart of the book, Guggiana hopes that they will encourage her audience “not to cook longer, but to cook smarter,”  to try the recipes, and to adopt this mantra: local, organic, fresh, and seasonal. Unless you’re Mario Batali, none are menus to throw together before running off to a child’s ball practice; but the novice with a grasp of techniques and vocabulary will find dishes to try immediately (buttermilk fried chicken, meatloaf, oatmeal cookies) and ones to grow with (wild boar ragout or Banh Mi sandwiches). Those who know their way around the kitchen intimately will relish the rediscovery of “down home meals,” whether home is New Orleans or New Delhi. Each recipe is preceded by a brief introduction that reveals Guggiana’s personal connection to the dish, hints at what makes this dish extraordinary, and occasionally gives advice: What is a good substitute if wild boar is unavailable?  

      As a third generation butcher, author of Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers, and president of Sonoma Direct, a purveyor of sustainably raised meat, Guggiana knows great food. She likens eating in a great restaurant to a museum-going experience, saying it “. . . seeds inspiration and shifts in perspective.” Her enthusiasm spills onto each page with prose as evocative as freshly picked basil.
-- GERALDINE RICHARDS, ForeWord Magazine, Sept/October 2011

About the Author

MARISSA GUGGIANA is the author of Primal Cuts: Cooking with America's Best Butchers, which profiles fifty of the most innovative whole-animal butchers and chefs in America and shares their most impressive recipes. In 2011, she co-founded The Butcher's Guild, a national organization promoting and supporting artisanal butchery. Marissa is an editor and contributor to Meatpaper magazine and a board member of Ag Innovations Network. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Becky (NOLA) TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Length: 4:11 Mins
Many years ago I lived in Virginia. My neighbor worked as a hostess at a Chinese restaurant. After the restaurant closed for the evening the chef would take all the leftover bits and pieces and make meals off the menu for the staff. My neighbor didn't have a car so I would give her rides to work, and she would pay me in these leftover meals. Honestly, they were so good, as good if not better than what could be bought from the menu. I was hoping this book would have the same feel.

Some of the recipes definitely have the idea, the mise en place ramen on page 254, made from the days leftovers is very much the kind of recipe I expected. Most of the recipes, however, while looking delicious, seem like anything you'd find on the menu, more like the staffs favorite meals from the restaurant.

There is a large variety of restaurants and recipes represented. Korean, Chinese, Southern, Mexican influenced etc. The recipes are in the book by restaurant, so there isn't a separate section for desserts or salads, but the index is well laid out so that isn't really an issue.

None of the ingredients appear hard to find, most supermarkets or someplace like whole foods should have anything the recipe requires. I made several recipes, the pork chilaquiles, hard boiled eggs with spicy pickles and a delicious Tuscan kale salad that is destined to be a family staple. The recipes were easy to follow, the times and measurements seemed spot on.

there are pictures, I would have liked to see more pictures of the actual food and less of the staff eating the food. I get the theme of this cookbook is staff meals but personally I would have just liked more pictures of finished dishes.

The depth, number, and breadth of the recipes make this a great buy.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By George Erdosh on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully produced, unique book is more a coffee table book than a cookbook though it is filled with many good recipes. The author visited 51 restaurants from coast to coast, some small, some large, some little known and some prominent, and invited herself to the staff meal. Many of these meals are as good as served to guests, and for each restaurant the author collected and reproduced recipes from that meal. Beautiful photos illustrate the staff and the food. Each restaurant and its chef has a one-page story, and each chef answers a series of questions ("A splurge meal?"). This book is also a reading book. It is best to stretch it into 51 days learning about one restaurant a day. It is not an ideal cookbook because recipes are random throughout. Nevertheless, in the index the main parts of a meal (soups, vegetables, meats, desserts) are collected; thus you can assemble your menu from that. Recipes range from very simple (mashed potatoes, couscous) to complex (Mangalitsa Jambalaya with 32 ingredients). They mostly use easily available ingredients and anyone can follow these well-written recipes. Index is well cross referenced and excellent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hanna Henscheid on March 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is lovely- the pictures really capture the spirit of the restaurants, and the recipes were inspirational! I rarely mark so many recipes to try in one cookbook. Great buy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By agoodbook on July 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I didn't know what to expect but was really interested to know more about what restaurants serve their staff. This book does give a glimpse of what each restaurant serves her staff and some of the recipes are possible for me to repeat while others are not due to my geographical location and the availability of the ingredients.
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