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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOKS

THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK...
  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
...is one of the hottest trends in cookbooks.
Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such
proliferation. They are automatic sellers, since the book can be
flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a
celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up
on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans
of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of
the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the
restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books,
special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu.
Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But
because most of these books are American, they use only US volume
measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric
equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out.
The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks".
There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf
also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as
if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from
readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes
(not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work, but how could
that be? They all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many
books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with
tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life
in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding
about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem
to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a
lot of food shots, verging on gastroporn. The endorsements are from
other celebrities in a magnificent case of logrolling. If resources are
cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some
companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them
altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
 
 
 
13. 3 CHEFS; the kitchen men (Whitecap, 2010, 287 pages, ISBN 978-1-
77050-034-1, $26.95 CAD hard covers) is by the renowned trio of chefs:
Michael Bonacini, Massimo Capra, and Jason Parsons. They all appear on
local TV's "CityLine" in Toronto, and have cooked on the show and in
their published writings for newspapers and magazines. Bonacini is
partner in the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant group, Capra has cooked at
Prego della Piazza and currently co-owns Mistura, and Parsons heads up
Peller Estates Winery Restaurant. All courses are covered, all 126
preps are sourced as to chef, and all recipes have an immense amount of
savour-flavour. Their book uses SLOFE principles (seasonal, local,
organic, fast, and easy) and the food is mainly Mediterranean styled.
Try Capra's roasted vegetables and butter leaf lettuce salad or his
chick pea, black olive and pecorino crostini. Try Bonacini's
mulligatawny soup or his Portobello mushroom chip and dip. Try Parson's
homemade honey, sage and sea salt doughnuts or his chardonnay-braised
lamb shank. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric
and avoirdupois measurements. Two drawbacks: there are no wine
recommendations, and there are too many pictures of the chefs standing
about. The publisher's resources could have been better spent elsewhere
(e.g. wine recommendations?). Quality/price rating: 90.
 
 
 

14. MR. SUNDAY'S SOUPS (John Wiley & Sons, 2011, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-
470-64022-7, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Lorraine Wallace with Brigit
Binns. Wallace is married to Chris Wallace, a Fox News Anchor. Because
of his Sunday schedule and a quantity of teenagers roaming around the
house, Lorraine decided to feed her family soup with salad as the main
meal. Most soups can be turned into main courses anyway, and Wallace
was proficient at this. The book may have more meaning for Americans,
but apart from family pictures and political endorsements, it is a
nifty soup book. Organic food is used wherever possible, and seasonal
too. The arrangement is starts with Fall and moves through the year.
There are 78 preps plus four stock recipes. The usual and familiar
chowders and soups are augmented by a sprinkling of international
ethnic goodies such as Sengalese soup or Italian wedding soup. A good
section, to wean the guys away from fatty foods, is "Game Day
Favorites" with four chili preps, a baked potato soup, and cheeseburger
soup. Nice large print and easy to follow instructions. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is
no metric table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 84.
 
 
 

15. FABULOUS FAIRHOLME; breakfasts & brunches (Whitecap, 2010, 144
pages, ISBN 978-1-55285-932-2, $29.95 CDN hard covers) is by Sylvia
Main, owner of the award-winning Fairholme Manor Inn in Victoria, BC.
It's right next to the Government House and Gardens, and has been open
since 1999. And it has a local reputation for fabulous breakfasts and
brunches. The 65 preps come from a number of cooks who have worked
there over the years. I especially enjoyed the lemon scones, the egg
blossoms, the toasted pecan, orange and brown sugar butter, and the
lemon lavender blueberry muffins (with the sugar called for, more akin
to cupcakes). A good idea book, with lovely refreshing photography.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 85.
 
 
 
 

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