Cookbooks by chefs can be daunting. They're apt to include tricky restaurant recipes, or, alternately, watered-down "translations." Tom Colicchio, chef at Manhattan's top-rated Gramercy Tavern, has a better way. Think like a chef, he advises, and you tap into food preparation creativity--the ability to forgo recipes, when you wish, for spontaneous kitchen invention. In a series of innovative chapters that explore cooking fundamentals, culinary themes and variations, and "plug-in" component preparations, Colicchio provides a cooking "anatomy" for gaining kitchen mastery. The book's 100-plus recipes are offered not as ends in themselves (though they stand as delicious examples of Colicchio's simple yet sophisticated style), but as illustrative keys to the culinary processes.
How does it work? Beginning with a chapter that reviews basic cooking techniques, and includes exemplary stock- and sauce-making formulas, the book then presents a series of "studies," building-block recipes like Roasted Tomatoes, followed by simple-to-sophisticated variations, such as Roasted-Tomato Risotto. A chapter called "Trilogies" explores clusters of three-ingredient recipes--duck, root vegetables, and apples is one ingredient grouping--that show how various techniques, applied to the same ingredients, yield various exciting dishes. "Component Cooking," which focuses on vegetables (Colicchio's major source of inspiration), provides recipes like Corn and Potato Pancakes to be used for assembling a "plate." Concluding the book is "Favorites," a selection of Colicchio's specialties that range from My Favorite Chicken Soup to Poached Foie Gras, a taste bonus that also stimulates the cooking imagination. Illustrated with more than 100 color photos, and including a wide range of tips, Think Like a Chef succeeds at helping readers see through a chef's eyes--and in so doing to visualize cooking with fresh insight. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Unlike many chef-authors, Colicchio (chef at Gramercy Tavern) does not offer modified restaurant recipes for the home cook. Instead, he sets out to inspire readers to think like trained chefs: to riff on ingredients and techniques rather than always follow recipes to the last letter. Indeed, the recipes Colicchio includes serve as creative fodder rather than authoritarian instructions. He begins with techniques ("Get these [roasting, braising, blanching, sweating, stock making and sauce making] down, and you've mastered the most fundamental tools to creating great recipes"). The chapter on sauce making includes excellent basic instructions that can be used for variations such as Apple Cider Sauce and Lemon-Rosemary Vinaigrette. He is the first to admit that his approach is unusual, but it works beautifully, and dishes such as Artichoke and Tomato Gratin and Root Vegetable Soup with Apples and Duck Ham not only illustrate the author's premise effectively, but also sound delicious. Colicchio has a natural voiceAthere's no foodie pretentiousness here at all, and his book is as straightforward, yet inventive, as the food he serves. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.