Secrets of the Best Chefs: Recipes, Techniques, and Tricks from America’s Greatest Cooks Hardcover – Sep 11 2012
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—Library Journal, starred review
“These are the kind of recipes that become part of your permanent repertoire, and the chefs’ ‘secrets’ are the kind of key information that transform a modest cook into a brilliant one.”
“There’s truly something here for every cook. . . . If you've ever dreamed of apprenticing in your favorite chef's kitchen, you won't want to miss this extraordinary book.”
“It’s difficult to fully explain how fantastic this book is without just putting it into your hands and pushing you into a comfy chair for the afternoon. A tome of collective culinary know-how that simultaneously entertains, engages, and educates . . . you’ll want to spend some time with this one.”
“Packed with recipes and witticisms from 50 of today’s greatest cuisiners . . . Delectable.”
“A who’s who of the food world . . . no one could ask for a better group of instructors.”
“I love this book. It is a collision of one of the most curious and enthusiastic home cooks I know, Adam Roberts, and a long list of chefs and cooks I would do just about anything to learn from. He is able to draw out a fascinating range of quotes, lessons, recipes, and insights―each as distinct and personal as those sharing their kitchens.” ―Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Every Day
“Adam Roberts’s book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn from the best chefs in the country.” ―David Chang, chef/owner, Momofuku
“Adam Roberts is an original: smart, funny, talented, endlessly inquisitive, an A student and, happily for us, an A+ teacher. Everyone from beginner cooks to sure hands will learn something new on each page. And even if, like Adam’s mom’s, your stove stores shoes and handbags, you’ll still be charmed by Secrets―it’s a great read.” ―Dorie Greenspan, author of Around My French Table
“One of the best and most approachable books on chefs’ cooking I’ve seen―showcasing recipes anyone can master, without fussy techniques or fancy equipment.” ―David Lebovitz, pastry chef and author of The Sweet Life in Paris
“As interpreter, tour guide, doppelganger, chef-speak translator, and technical test bunny, Roberts heightens the experience of cooking with the greats by giving us the inside track on accessing the greatest kitchen talent of our time.” ―Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
“Adam Roberts, who blogs as The Amateur Gourmet, brings a professional’s clarity and imagination to this unusual and very useful cookbook. There are plenty of great recipes here, but what makes the book uniquely valuable are the insiders’ tips and trade secrets, full of reassurances and common sense, generously shared by chefs both famous and little-known, from José Andrés and Jonathan Waxman to Tim Artz and Angelish Wilson. I’d say Secrets of the Best Chefs is almost guaranteed to make you a better cook.” ―Colman Andrews, editorial director TheDailyMeal.com and author of The Country Cooking of Italy
“Adam Roberts renders each chef’s story so engagingly that every chapter is its own travel story; taken as a whole, they add up to the most inspiring portrait of contemporary American cooking we’ve seen.” ―Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors of The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern
“Adam Roberts is the affable and infectiously curious friend we all wish we had with us in the kitchen―the one who prods us with questions, entertains us with amusing tales, and makes us feel better when our cake flops.” ―Amanda Hesser, food writer and founder of Food52
“This book is packed with the kind of insights and tips that stay with you for a lifetime of cooking, and written from a sophisticated yet friendly and relatable point of view that tells any reader they are welcome and that they can do this. It looks great, too, and the photos make obvious the amount of fun Adam had doing this―sending perhaps the best message of all, that cooking with friends is the most fun you can have standing up.” ―Ted Allen, author of In My Kitchen
“Finally, a chef cookbook that demonstrates sympathy for the novice! Highly recommended for home cooks who want to become less recipe-reliant.” ―Library Journal
“A who’s who of the food world . . . no one could ask for a better group of instructors” ―Publishers Weekly
“Packed with recipes and witticisms from 50 of today’s greatest cuisiners . . . Delectable.” ―Atlanta Magazine
“These are the kind of recipes that become part of your permanent repertoire, and the chefs' "secrets" are the kind of key information that transform a modest cook into a brilliant one.” ―Austin Chronicle
“There's truly something here for every cook. . . . If you've ever dreamed of apprenticing in your favorite chef's kitchen, you won't want to miss this extraordinary book.” ―Fine Cooking
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As an added bonus, the book also provides a chance to learn more about the life stories behind some of these incredible kitchen masters. I loved Melissa Clark's advice... "If you fail a lot, just call it 'recipe developing' ". Bravo to Adam and Artisan Books on a wonderful new addition to my kitchen library.
There are many out-of-the-ordinary recipes here, but the majority of them are too complicated to deal with for a normal everyday meal. There are a lot of difficult-to-find ingredients and expensive ingredients. Many of the steps are time consuming. After all, these are recipes from (for the most part) restaurant chefs, working in restaurant kitchens with ingredients that can be found in very large cities.
And the recipes are a total mixed bag: There is a small "chapter" for each chef so you might find a beet salad, next to lamb shanks, and followed by poached peaches. There is no rhyme or reason to the sequence of chefs either: They are not grouped by area of the country, nor specialty, nor style of cooking, and not even alphabetically. (It is a good thing that the index is somewhat helpful: You will find listings for desserts, appetizers, breads, etc. in addition to ingredient listings. You will not find listings for Asian dishes or Italian dishes.)
A good many of the "techniques and tricks" had me chuckling at the naivety of the author in highlighting certain information. Only use brown eggs (not white) to make fresh pasta?!? Calling perilla a lettuce? And it was "odd" to me: Stating the obvious sometimes (day-old bread can be used for croutons, bread crumbs, bread pudding--Oh, really?), and other times rattling on about an ingredient like finger limes (precious and difficult to find...they elevate a dish with their citrus-y, caviar-like interiors). Then there was very helpful information here and there: Xanthan gum is a natural thickener, and substitute three times as much dry yeast in a recipe that calls for wet yeast.
I did find a very helpful tip for gnocchi and a great sweet chili sauce recipe.
Regarding the exactness of recipes: Some were very exact and some were not: There is a fine recipe for eggs cracked into one bowl, then all poured together into a skillet with olive oil, then topped with a big handful of fresh herbs. (What's great about that recipe is that it says exactly how many of what size egg, with an exact amount of olive oil to use in a specific size pan, how long to cook at what temperature, and when to remove from the heat and cover it to finish cooking.) In other recipes you'll find "large" baking potato, plus other ambiguities.