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Chef with red wine glass

Culinary Artistry

 

By Andrew Dornenburg & Karen Page
 
(Also see the Interviews with the authors:
Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page)

DESCRIPTION
Many chefs and cooks have cited Culinary Artistry as the single most valuable reference book in their kitchens for its dozens of pages of listings of flavor matches, which indicate the herbs, spices and other flavorings which best enhance or complement various foods, from apples to zucchini, and from beef to venison.
 
Culinary Artistry is also the first book to examine the creative process of culinary composition as it explores the intersection of food, imagination and taste. Through interviews with more than 30 of America’s leading chefs, including Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Jeremiah Tower, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Alice Waters, the authors reveal what defines “culinary artists,” how and where they find their inspiration, and how they translate that vision to the plate.

REVIEW
If you really find food fascinating--the idea of food, working with food, and the eating of food--then Culinary Artistry should be on your bookshelf. There are two books at work here. One is What Chefs Have to Say About the Foods They Create. The other is Fun with Food Spread Sheets. A cynic might suggest that after putting together Becoming a Chef, the authors had so much leftover interview material that Culinary Artistry was but the natural outcome. The chef's point of view, however, would be to make use of everything passing through the kitchen, to throw nothing away. In other words, if Becoming a Chef is an entrée, then Culinary Artistry is the special of the day.

The book is divided into sections that discuss and reach out to chefs to join in that discussion of such ideas as the chef as artist, dealing with sensory perception in food, composing with flavors, putting a dish together, putting together an entire menu, and standing back to admire the growth of a personal cuisine. This is thoughtful material. It is not how-to material. These guided conversations are made practical for the home cook by charts such as which foods are in season and when, the basic flavors of foods (bananas are sweet; anchovies are salty), food matches made in heaven (lamb chops with aioli or ginger or shallots), seasoning matches made in heaven (dill and salmon), flavors of the world (Armenia means parsley and yogurt), common accompaniments to entrées (beef and potatoes), and, most fun of all, the desert-island lists of many of the chefs quoted so extensively throughout the text. Many recipes accompany the text.

How this will affect any individual's own culinary art, be that professional or personal, remains unclear. It may be as private an experience as reading. For the uninitiated, this book will prove that there's a lot more going on with food and restaurants and chefs than they may ever have imagined.

--Schuyler Ingle, Amazon.com

 

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