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Chef, Interrupted: Delicious Chefs' Recipes That You Can Actually Make at Home Hardcover – October 11, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Chefs' cookbooks are notorious for enticing recipes that home cooks can't hack. In Chef, Interrupted, Melissa Clark betters the situation. She's taken recipes from leading chefs like Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, and Alain Ducasse and pared them down--interrupted them, as she puts it--for home use. Included are the attractive likes of Heirloom Pea Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche; Spaghetti with Preserved Tuna, Lemon Zest, Hot Pepper, Capers, and Olives; Tagine of Lamb Shanks with Prunes, Ginger, and Toasted Almonds; and Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfaits with Caramelized Bananas.

Clark has the technical smarts (and taste) to know where and how to nip and tuck, usually by removing ancillary preparations or unnecessary steps. If her conscientious work often makes otherwise inaccessible dishes more approachable, readers should also know that many of the dishes, which can call for special ingredients, are still not for everyday cooking. But food-loving readers interested in last-word creations will undoubtedly want to try making this standout fare. To further ease the way, Clark and the chefs provide copious notes that help explain ingredients and techniques while recipe intros offer even more elucidation. With photos that depict the dishes and multiple shots of the author with the chefs on the job, the book should bring top-drawer dining closer to home. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

A prolific cookbook coauthor and food writer, Clark revises the innovative recipes of top restaurant chefs, hoping to make them easier for nonpros. Her tweaks generally consist of replacing hard-to-find or difficult-to-manage ingredients with more available and user-friendly ones, then condensing steps to reduce preparation time and carefully clarifying more advanced techniques. By deconstructing each dish into its most necessary elements and bypassing fussy flourishes, Clark succeeds in keeping the essence of most of the famous chefs' foods. Home cooks will be delighted by Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Tea Foam based on Marcus Samuelsson's Aquavit recipe, or the Charlie Trotter–inspired Five-Spice-Crusted Tuna with Roasted Carrots and Rutabaga Purée, or a streamlined version of Eleven Madison Park's Chocolate–Peanut Butter Parfaits with Caramelized Bananas. Though simplified, these are sophisticated dishes that require planning ahead. Prep times are generally an hour or more, and that doesn't include the many ingredients that require chilling overnight, marinating a day ahead of time or a few extra hours of baking. Despite these obstacles, the promise of being able to prepare dishes made famous by the likes of Mario Batali and Alain Ducasse is indeed alluring. Photos. (On sale Sept. 20)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1St Edition edition (October 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400054400
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400054404
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,049,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Chef, Interrupted' by leading cookbook co-author, Melissa Clark is a better than average collection of recipes from a very large number (more than the 26 named on the cover) of prominent chefs from around the country, ranging from Batali, Bouley, Boulud, and Colicchio in New York City to Judy Rodgers in San Francisco to Norman Van Aken in Miami to Charlie Trotter in Chicago to Tom Douglas in Seattle.

The factor which makes this better than a simple collection of recipes from famous chefs is the fact that the recipes are simplified and stated by a single expert culinary writer, backed by a single team of recipe testers. This immediately makes the book more valuable than your average collection from diverse sources such as the recent `Today Show' collection of recipes from the TV show talent and various `visiting fireman' chefs, including many of the same names such as Batali and Boulud.

But, one must ask, is this book really worth it. If I apply my `one good recipe' rule, it passes on the strength of a Bobby Flay recipe for the Spanish Tortilla (potato frittata). It's not as if I don't already have a good half dozen recipes for this dish, but Flay spices it up with garlic and embellishes it with bell peppers, a very traditional Spanish ingredient.

Daniel Boulud's blurb on the back of the dust jacket hits upon the primary value of the book. It contains lots of recipes whose innate values and high name recognition sources will easily impress. For a less than standard $35 list price, you get recipes from practically every recognized chef in the country without having to buy forty different books with forty different styles of presenting recipes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just got this book as a gift from a friend and I've already made two of the recipes -- rack of lamb w/cumin and salt crust (YUM!) and pizza with garlic pesto and ricotto (more YUM!). i usually don't make pizza at home, but this was ttally doable -- and delicious - and the lamb was too easy and so sophisticated and wonderful. The tips from the chefs and the writer are really useful -- and there are drink tips that i found really helpful, too. It was a great gift and I'd highly recommend it for any enthusiastic home cook/foodie.
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Format: Hardcover
Clark does a neat service to burgeoning gourmets by taking otherwise master chef recipes and decoding, simplifying them down to essential steps and/or ingredients, that make them far more home-chef friendly.

This cookbook writer/food writer has in past helped likes of Bouley and Boulud with their cookbooks, now takes it another step by taking their recipes and those of other famous chefs and "interrupts" them as they would make them at the restaurant by interpreting them for home prep.

The results are spectacular, with the chef list sounding like a "who is who of culinary world": Flay, Ripert, Bouley, Trotter, et al. Their interrupted recipes are the same, spectacular: Cornmeal Hazelnut Biscotti; Butterscotch Custards; Warm Chocolate Cakes with Coffee Ice Cream and Cashew Brittle; Goat Cheese Cake withThyme-Macerated Raspberry Compote; Veal Ricotta Meatballs; Roasted Pork Chops with Peaches and Basil; Wine Poached Filet Mignon with Aromatics; Pastrami Stuffed Trout with Green Cabbage, Pickled Blueberries and Walnuts; Slow-Cooked Salmon wiht Chive Oil and Apple-Rosemary Puree; Curried Sweet Corn and Cocunut Soup with Carmelized Mango.

As you can tell, this is extensive, exciting collection that I am very upbeat about its use in my collection. What I find very useful and attractive is her unique intro to each recipe, filled with all kinds of tidbits for the culinary junkie, e.g. sneaking to Bouley's kitchen to spy; and her "tips" on all kinds of useful info, e.g. kind of wine to use, frozen vs. fresh, etc.

Limited color photos, but this doesn't really detract from attractiveness.
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In love? Behold, the way to a man's heart: Vanilla poached shrimp with a tangy rhubarb chutney and butter sauce. Roasted porkchops with fresh peaches and basil. Fig tart with Parmesan ice cream. Yellow pepper and toasted almond soup, fragrant with bell peppers and saffron.

Made any of those lately? Here lies a bold, gutsy collection reflecting the latest generation of American cuisine. Not for the faint of heart or the pale of palate, all these recipes come with Melissa's Tips for pulling them off, complete with compromises where necessary.

Bet it never crossed your mind you'd need Star Anise in the spice rack. Without it, you cannot make the candied Kumquats for Melissa Clark's homemade version of Duck Confit Salad and Pistachios, served at Jardiniere, San Francisco. Tip: You can't buy Star Anise at Costco. Stock up today.

For David Bouley's Salmon with chive oil and apple-rosemary puree, Clark vetos the bottled version I have in the fridge: "If you can't get fresh horseradish, it's better to leave it out entirely than to use the vinegary prepared kind sold in jars." Remember that when you tackle Filet Mignon pot au feu with horseradish cream. Clark's FYI: "Fresh horseradish root is easiest to find in the spring and late fall, and is easiest to grate in a food processor." Oh - TWO star anise is on the ingredients list for this recipe. Better buy a bottle; that star anise you never thought you'd need goes into the Foie Gras Terrine with Asian Pear Marmalade, too.

The Squab recipe created by Laurent Gras of Fifth Floor in San Francisco marinates the tiny birds in coffee and roasts them with cardamom oil. It's a simple dish, calling for olive oil and grapeseed oil, but thoroughly new.
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