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The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best: A 25th Anniversary Celebration of America's Outstanding Chefs Hardcover – March 7, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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About the Author

Kit Wohl is an award-winning author, photographer and fine artist. The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best is her eighth book. She works with international chefs, restaurants, and hotels.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (March 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811874664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811874663
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1 x 12.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #855,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Best of the Best is a journey into the kitchens and creativity of the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding chefs. Author Kit Wohl introduces us to each as if we were there ourselves, demonstrating their personalities along with the inspirations and insights that drove them to the top. Then we enter their restaurants via two or three select acclaimed recipes, accompanied by a collection of portraits of the chefs and their food. The recipes presented appear approachable for the average accomplished home cook, with a few presented to challenge an aspiring Top Chef. The first recipe I chose to attempt myself was Alfred Portale's (Gotham Bar and Grill, NYC) Beet Salad with Mango, Feta, Orange, and Mint. While my plating was not quite as lovely as the image in the book, the resulting salad was delicious and I was very proud of myself. Having recently visited the restaurant, Bouley (David Bouley) in NYC, I was pleased to see the recipe for Porchini Flan with Dungeness Crab and Black Truffle Dashi. It is one of my favorite dishes there and the recipe looks like one I can handle, though I will have to work to find a few of the ingredients.

But remember, these 21 chefs are the Best of the Best, only one named for each year, so it is not surprising that some of the recipes include ingredients not readily available on every grocery shelf. The book is a celebration of these chefs and their ability to take anything from common to exotic ingredients to create combinations of foods that transcend the ordinary. It tells the story of each chef as an individual, honoring the influence and memory of James Beard. And like James Beard, what is clear in the stories of these chefs is the recurring theme of apprenticeship and passion for what they do.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a young chef I find myself crazed with an obsession with cookbooks, from classic French gastronomique to obscure world cuisines. I purchase way too many, and I borrow in the same, begrudgingly returning them to their rightful owners. The purpose of my obsession is a ruthless craving for knowledge of cuisine and technique. As any professional cook will tell you, your education in these matters never end.

Which brings me to the James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best Cookbook, my new favorite of any cookbook I've read and certainly one of the best I've seen in a long time. As a cookbook it fills all the gaps. The art is truly beatiful, displaying the unique aesthetic and grace of each chef's restaurants and dishes with photography that excites without sticking within the bounds of traditional "food art." The included recipes are all dishes that have made these chefs famous, some never before released to the public, indicating the creativity and intuition of each American culinary master.

But the cornerstone of this cookbook is the chapter on each JBF Award winner. Wohl must have spent some serious time with each of her subjects to develop the chapters. The post-humous interviews on Jean-Louis Palladin is enough to make you lose sleep from excitement. I mean, I actually got tingles reading the chapters on my own personal heroes, Grant Achatz, Eric Ripert, Alfred Portale, etc. Not only do I feel like I understand them a little better, but that I know them now that I see what makes them tick, how they were so inspired and motivated to get to the be the best in America.

This cookbook isn't just another one to fill the shelves. It's a must have for any serious fan of American gastronomy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An insightful and straight forward record of the personal journeys and philosophy of celebrated chefs and concluding each biography with a collection of their recipes with accompanying photographs. Anyone considering or wavering in such a career should buy this book - for inspiration. If you want a glimpse of this book, go to the james beard website and download the bonus chapters on the outstanding chefs awarded for 2012 and 2013. At this stage, I do not plan to follow the recipes, but this beautiful publication with the honest interviews are worth the time to read. And heavily discounted from a second seller, it is a steal.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a chef who has had the opportunity to meet and work alongside many of the subjects of this book, I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of my copy. It is a celebration of 25 years of The James Beard Foundation and the chefs that have won its prestigious "Outstanding Chef" award. These are the chefs that have defined the American culinary landscape and elevated level of dining and appreciation of food to new heights. I could not be happier with what I have read. It has exceeded my expectations for what I could learn about each of the award winners and their lives as a chef.

The author does a terrific job of capturing the spirit and personality of each chef, illustrating them with personal stories and inspirations which I had not known prior to reading this book. Much like the chefs themselves, the book eschews the "celebrity" portion of being a James Beard Award winner. Rather, it concentrates on what makes each of them great at their craft. Ms. Wohl understands that it is the story of each chef that defines their culinary viewpoint; the distillation of their lives and experiences, and how that plays out on the plate.

The recipes and photos that are included in each chef's profile help to further define each of their culinary styles. As I read through each recipe, I was able to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of how each of the subjects worked with flavors, textures and techniques to express their stories in the dishes they create. Each recipe is concise and understandable, written to be prepared, not just admired.

Without a doubt, this book is one of my new favorites. I can't wait to read about the next chef who is recognized as the"Best of the Best".
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