From Publishers Weekly
The great chef Patrick O'Connell went to college to please his parents. "They bought into the American dream, believing that their children should never have to toil, sweat, or perform physical labor," he writes in his extraordinary new cookbook (after The Inn at Little Washington: A Consuming Passion
). Like many people of their generation, O'Connell's parents considered working in a restaurant to be a lower order of work that people resorted to if they couldn't get a higher education. But O'Connell, who taught himself to cook by reading cookbooks, became part of the revolution in American cuisine over the 25 years that changed that perception. Eventually (with his partner Reinhardt Lynch), O'Connell turned a former gas station in the Virginia countryside into one of the most sumptuous and original restaurants and inns in the world. There, happily sweating and toiling, he set about refining many of the dishes of his all-American Irish Catholic childhood: fish sticks on Friday night became Sole Fingers with Green Herb Mayonnaise.The recipes collected here, which O'Connell explains with warmth and simplicity and introduces with wonderfully funny memories from his baby boomer childhood, demonstrate that the greatest American cooking is more than a version of regional cuisine. Like Alice Waters and other pioneers in the American culinary revolution, O'Connell is obsessive about using fresh local meats and produce. But he adds another ingredient—a twist of insight and witty invention. O'Connell gives us Lilliputian Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwiches; Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham (and smoked gouda) and Spruced Up Turkey (which garnishes a brined turkey with spruce branches to impart a wild and woodsy taste). He shows that true refinement has to do with simplicity, with being exquisitely sensitive yet free enough from convention to perceive and to make just the right gesture. Arriving at a time when there is so much fear that European cultivation and ethnic depth is being wiped out by American brand name sameness, this cookbook is a jewel—and a watershed. O'Connell shows the world how deep and cultivated American cuisine can be. 230 photos.
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From the Publisher
Patrick OConnell is a self-taught chef who has pioneered a regional American cuisine in the Virginia countryside by using fresh local ingredients. He has been referred to as "the pope of American haute cuisine" and is president of the North American Relais Gourmands. Selecting the Inn at Little Washington as one of the top ten restaurants in the world, Patricia Wells hails OConnell as "a rare chef with a sense of near-perfect taste, like a musician with perfect pitch."
OConnell offers vastly refined versions of his favorite American food: Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham, Crab Cake "Sandwich" with Fried Green Tomatoes, Veal Medallions with Country Ham Ravioli, and Warm Plum Torte with Sweet Corn Ice Cream. All the recipes use fresh American ingredients to make delicious dishes that rival the finest foods from France and Italy.