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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I think this is a very pleasant, accessible collection of recipes (with lots of chef-to-cook asides). David Waltuck focuses on his Chanterelle family -- his cooks, cleanup crew, and wait-staff -- for whom he makes meals that give new meaning to "employee benefits."
It struck me that his happy gang working behind the scenes at a stellar restaurant is at odds with that story that runs from Orwell's scullions in "Down and Out in Paris and London" to the desperados in "Kitchen Confidential." But, hey, Waltuck's proof is in his pudding - life must be fine if a night on the job includes "Roast Chicken Stuffed with Basil" or "Spaghetti with Mussels, Tomatoes, and Cream," and maybe a blackberry cobbler.
The recipes are eclectic like food markets in New York City - kind of French, kind of Hispanic, kind of Asian, kind of Middle European, kind of North African, kind of small-town American. Things the recipes have in common are keen, punchy flavors - the sautéed/baked Cornish hens call for garlic, tomatoes, wine, olives, thyme, and red pepper flakes - and quantities that feed 8 to 10 people (or can be upped for a crowd).
The hidden gems: roughly 30 pages of salad dressings that look like they can have many real-life uses and a run of breakfast and brunch items that might go over well enough to be worth the price of the book (I'm thinking of "Buttermilk Corn Muffins with Orange").
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I could use all kinds of fancy adjectives to describe the dishes and information in this book, but there is no need. I have only owned this cookbook for about a month and can honestly tell you that this "foodie" who was raised from generations of great southern cooks is enraptured with this compilation of wonderful recipes. Although I love some Southern dishes, my palette is more broad and contemporary, so Staff Meals from Chanterelle fits the bill perfectly.
There are recipes that are truly "comfort foods". Then he has dishes that have elements of comfort in them but also urge you to go beyond the confortable to stretch your wings a bit...to take a small risk with a new enhancement. I love some of the dishes he terms "ethnic" but admits that he "loves to experiment" and says that this particular recipe is his own rendition and cannot be assigned the term ethnic. Then there are some "gourmet" dishes that, although are not of the same calibre as the meals served in his restaurant, has Waltuck's signature all over them. The food literally "makes you happy". Most of the recipes are fairly easy to make and call for ingredients usually found in any kitchen pantry. Although some call for very specific ingredients, he explains that these can be obtained in any good international market or a good supermarket.
Another feature I love about his book is the sidebars with tips, important cooking information, and descriptions that help the cook do a better job when preparing the dish. The recipes are easy to read and follow. They are not long and tedious but straightforward and clear. The format is very readable.
Waltuck also talks fondly about his "family" at the restaurant, talks about some of their favorite dishes and their lives, and has recipes that they love to eat. This gives the book an air of "hominess" that is warming from first to last.
Already the pages and cover of my book are spattered a bit and showing signs of use. It's now the first book I turn to, even on days when I want something rather simple and quick. There is something in these pages for everyone, and you will find yourself going back again and again. My husband is my "acid" tester. He is from England but has traveled around the world and has a cultivated taste for food, wine and beer. Every dish I have prepared from this cookbook has swept him off his feet. After eating Waltuck's "Chicken Paprikas", my husband immediately proposed to me for the second time. From an Englishman, THAT is really saying something!!!
This cookbook is a MUST on every cooks shelf. More than that, it is a book to be used often. This foodie could not have spent money more wisely on a cookbook.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My lasting admiration to whomever came up with the idea behind this book. Unlike the other 4-star celebrity chef cookbooks being peddled on the Food Network, all of which seem to detail extravagant and daring 12-course meals featuring five different reductions and three unpronounceable ingredients, David Waltuck's submission considers comfort food. A steaming crock of French Onion Soup, made-from-scratch fudge Brownies, creamy Mac-n-Cheese, and even Mint Juleps are given the same treatment that made Chanterelle one of the best restaurants in New York.
Imagine that! Food that you'd want to cook at home! In a cookbook!
Foie Gras and scallion lobster bisque topped with sun-dried tomatoes and carmelized pears is nice, but sometimes I just want some Mac-n-Cheese, dammit.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have dozens of cookbooks...and am generally quite cynical about them...but I find myself returning to this one a lot. Every time I try one of the recipes, I have the most dire predictions...oh no I've ruined all the food I have. Ruined indeed! These are some of the best meals I've ever turned out.
If you like your food dry, tough, bland, ugly, typical, and difficult to make, there are several other cookbooks that will serve you to a tee. But if you like your food falling-apart tender and juicy, rich and beautifully spiced, unique and yet quite easy to prepare, this cookbook I've found works fine.
Also I'd say that I always choose the finest ingredients but if I had to use less than the best, I would want these recipes, which will make the most out of whatever you've got. I would give this away as a Holiday gift to anyone who was already at Joy of Cooking level. And who didn't need to lose lots of pounds.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2001
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
If you're interested in this book, you're probably a foodie like me. And, like me, you probably have a collection of cookbooks. STAFF MEALS is my favorite. From this book I have cooked many a family meal (two kids, 8 and 11 and a spouse) to many a rave - haven't hit a false note yet.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book the morning after a meal at Chanterelle. The meal was spectacular, but don't buy this book hoping for a recipe for (for example) Diver Caught Maine Sea Scallops with Duck Fat, Tomato and Basil, or the chef's famous Seafood Sausage. This book is more about feeding a family than the customers at the upscale TriBeca eatery. To me, that made the book more practical; how many of us have access to foie gras? Not many, but we can all find the ingredients for Waltuck's Beef Short Ribs Braised in Beer.
I collect all manner of cookbooks, and this is one that I can recommend to both to experienced cooks and folks new to the kitchen. Woo.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I first saw this book featured on Oprah. For such an inauspicious beginning, this book has proved very useful and interesting. The author is imaginative and not overly-gourmet. Occasionally I have to laugh at the way he expresses his abiding love for things like Tripe and pigs feet, and the offhand way he mentions that it is best to make soup stock in gallon batches. All in all, though, David Waltuck comes through with a book full of homey recipes just the Paris side of my Midwest gourmet kitchen. The first two things I made from this book were the cream cheese pound cake and the honey cake. While I liked both recipes, the results of my efforts cemented the general impression I have, which is that Mr. Waltuck tends to like strongly flavored dishes. If you look at a recipe of his and think to yourself "that is way too much nutmeg" you are probably right. But don't worry, the recipes are otherwise so well constructed that a few creative liberties on the part of the cook should not harm them.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
We can't stop eating our way through this book, easy and unbelieveably fabulous tastes. It is the best addition to our cookbook collection in years (Union Square is a second). You do need to stock up on certain Chinese seasonings for many of the recipies, but once you have the oyster sauce, fish sauce and the black vinegar, etc., in your pantry, you're all set for serious tastes with minimal effort. Genius.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
So good that I keep hoping it will go out of print! (Thereby making it more difficult for my friends to get their hands on these excellent recipes.)

More seriously, this fine cookbook distills the essence of what made Waltuck's Le Zinc so special (even though it name-checks the mighty Chanterelle). Plus, it contains a large number of recipes aimed at feeding a crowd, which is pretty unusual in-and-of itself. But the star of the show is the food, and Waltuck's stuffed cabbage, his lime-marinated flank steak, and so many others have become some of my absolute favorites.

The book is informative, opinionated, charming, and truly deserves a spot on your shelf. I can't recommend a cookbook more highly.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Every recipe that I've tried from this cookbook has turned out well! Many of the recipes are high on the time scale (braising, stewing, baking) but low on the effort scale. This is perfect for me. Everything is so easy!

My favourites: mac & cheese, short ribs braised in beer, chicken with 40 cloves garlic, and peanut butter cookies. The peanut butter cookies are always a hit as they're so round and rich that they stay moist for days.

The only complaint I have about this cookbook is the lack of a Table of Contents. The sections are organized by meat, vegetable, sides, desserts, but there's nothing in the front listing all the recipes available in the book. I would've liked to be able to see everything that I could make and then flipping immediately to that page instead of having to go through each recipe.
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