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Damn Good Food: 157 Recipes from Hell's Kitchen Hardcover – Oct 1 2009

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Book Description

In Damn Good Food, Mitch Omer reveals the recipes that have made his restaurant a pleasure seeker's destination, including inventions like his tart, ethereal Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes; dark, wild Bison Sausage Bread; and sweet, creamy Mahnomin Porridge. These dishes have the hungry and eager queued up out the doors of Hell's Kitchen, often for hours, and now you can make them at home.

Food writer Ann Bauer also gives us a glimpse behind the scenes, revealing Omer's darker side, the side responsible for the decor of Hell's Kitchen, described as the "nightmare side of Sesame Street." Bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, and a former addict, Omer's roller-coaster ride of a life has taken him through many towns and love affairs, numerous jobs, and even more controlled substances. But through it all, there has been food--recipes inspired by places and people, including Omer's own close-knit family, reworked and made his own. He beats back his demons every day with his dad's caramel rolls and coleslaw, locally raised bison burgers smeared with his mom's mustard, and his own famous homemade peanut butter, and he invites you in to share it all.

"Mitch makes extraordinary food. But even more important, he makes extraordinary life. And he knows what one has to do with the other--how food is only part of the equation. This is a man who wakes up every day curious, full of gale-force curiosity and joy."

–from the book

"If you have time for only one meal in Minneapolis or Duluth, we strongly urge you not to go to Hell's Kitchen. Coming for just one meal will be insanely frustrating. There are too many outstanding things to eat. You will walk out yearning for the likes of hand-pulled corned beef hash, char-broiled pit ham, baked huevos rancheros, and a dozen other items for which there was no space on the table."

–Jane and Michael Stern, Gourmet, December 2008

Mitch Omer is the chef-owner of Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis and Duluth. Ann Bauer was food editor at Minnesota Monthly and is the author of the novel Wild Ride up the Cupboards.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 33 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A little slice of heaven - From Hell's Kitchen Oct. 27 2009
By rpglegal - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I stumbled into Hell's Kitchen on a trip to Minneapolis during a quick trip. While eating a slice of Bison bread with the most amazing peanut butter I had ever had slathered on top.. I never wanted to leave. Lemon Ricotta pancakes, Mahnomin Porridge, Mitch's food spoke to me.. and I knew I was eating food I would never get anywhere else. Every sauce was made by hand, and the experience was glorious. I left taking a jar of peanut butter with me and I have told many others since .. If you ever get a chance to get to Minneapolis ... YOU have to eat here. I thought about the restaurant often, signed up on their website for the newsletter, and was thrilled to hear that Mitch had written a cookbook! I pre-ordered it from the restaurant, added in a jar of the to die for peanut butter.. and waited patiently for it to arrive. If you enjoy cookbooks that are more than recipes, you will love the story this book tells. There is love on every page. Love of friends, food, and love for a troubled man who has surrounded himself with a terrific support system so he succeeds in life. Ann Bauer does a wonderful job capturing the experience of Hell's Kitchen, in the writing and the photos. I was astonished to find ALL of the recipes from the menu in the pages of the book. THANK YOU! Not sure I will ever attempt some of them, but I can droll over them, and look forward to the next time I get
to Minneapolis. And I just might try to make the peanut butter myself!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Not JUST a good cookbook Nov. 10 2009
By mplspeanut - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Being a fan of Hell's Kitchen, I had heard that Mitch was working on a cookbook. I didn't think much of it, because I know that I would just rather eat at the restaurant (I'm not so great in the kitchen). I flipped through the book the last time I was at Hell's and found myself absorbed in reading it immediately. This is not JUST a cook book... Mitch's life is very interesting and he's straight forward and honest about the good, the bad and the ugly!

Love all the photos too... good shots of the food, but also good photos of Mitch's family and friends in and out of the restaurant, gives you a great sense of what and who's behind the magic!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Hella Good Cooking April 20 2010
By Melissa Slachetka - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Minneapolis's own Hell's Kitchen is no relation to the television show of same name but it is just as intense, and reading the story behind its success is even better than watching Chef Ramsay yell. The vivacious chef and owner of our local hellish hotspot is Mitch Omer. He joins literary forces with Ann Bauer, an unfulfilled food writer. Bauer gains a new zest for life, love, and all things gastronomical after chronicling Omer's tumultuous rise from dysfunction and suicidal tendencies to beloved and edgy chef.

Omer's fascinating story of mental health, drugs, and gluttony fill the pages of this cookbook. From rebellious son to drug-filled bouncer to backroom cook, the storyline is intermingled with recipes acquired during the many stages of Omer's turbulent life.

"He started snorting blow every night and then zipping through the dining room, making funny, charming small talk with the guests. When cocaine got too expensive, Mitch switched to crystal meth. And eventually, when even meth failed to send him, he started smoking PCP."
-pg 33

Damn Good Food is a meat-lovers wet dream. Carnivorous taste buds will salivate with recipes like "Biscuits with Rabbit Gravy," "Antelope Stroganoff," and "Bison Benedict." The mashed potatoes even sport an impressive `2 cups rich chicken broth." Vegetarians shouldn't shy away from dishes, like "Mahnomi Porridge," "Hot Damn Buttered Pretzels," and "Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes." In addition to its range of recipes, another distinguishing factor to this cookbook is the completeness. There are directions for tartar sauce, curries, rubs, and even peanut butter. If a recipe calls for mayo or Jamaican jerk rub, you have a reference to that recipe.

"There are three key spices in any jerk seasoning: Jamaican pimento (which we call allspice), thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers, so hot they have been known to spontaneously combust. No longer relegated just to pork, jerk seasoning is used on every manner of meat and fish, as is seen in this book's charred sea bass recipe."
-pg 148

The vicious red cover, punk photos and remnants of Omer's youth grace the pages. Despite his current success and happiness, anyone else walking in Omer's shoes may not have made it. The inspiration of Hell's Kitchen and life of Omer is captured charismatically by Bauer, who discovers she is a bit of a badass, herself. If the rock-n-roll lifestyle takes a slight precedence over the food, we can hardly blame either writer. This is full-on cooking in every sense.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If You Love the Restaurant You'll Like This Book May 17 2013
By TWS - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We have actually eaten at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis, and it is a great experience all around. This book complements the in-person visit perfectly, but as a cookbook it is a bit lacking. The lemon-ricotta pancake recipe yields pancakes that are very close to those I enjoyed in the restaurant, but mostly the book contains recipes of things you wouldn't think of making at home; I'm probably never going to cook bison at home (even though I can buy it at Whole Foods). So, buy it as a souvenir but leave it as a cookbook.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Jan. 26 2010
By A. Shindelar - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have always enjoyed Hell's kitchen and now i am loving the fact that i can try and recreate these recipes in my own kitchen. I am not nearly as a good a cook as Mitch, and would rather just go to Hell's Kitchen but I live in the south now and can't ake it more than once a year, so i am enjoying this wonderful cookbook.


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