Never has our culture been so enamored with the romantic notions of a chef's life inside, and away from, the kitchen. Our favorites have gained celebrity status, and we hunger for tidbits – the glory as well as the grit and grime – behind the scenes of the imagined idyllic lives we so envy.
Author Dawn Blume Hawkes satiates our craving with a look into the passions of twelve regional chefs: the back stories, the dreams, favorite books, pastimes, tools & tips, and their personal favorite menus, all beautifully illustrated, with full-color photos of recipes and more. Step behind the scenes with Hawkes as she profiles chefs Justin Aprahaian, Robert Del Grande, Rob Evans, Brad Farmerie, Clark Frasier, Mark Gaier, Gale Gand, Maura Kilpatrick, Mike Lata, Nancy Silverton, Frank Stitt, Jaron Wilson, and Roy Yamaguchi, and entices with personal recipes from each.
You will find an imagined menu for Lunch on the Yakima River from Chef Jason Wilson, the 2010 James Beard Award-winner for Best Chef and owner and executive chef of Seattle’s CRUSH. You will discover that multi award-winning Chef Rob Evans of Portland, Maine’s DUCKFAT has an unconventional tool he uses frequently – the 1979 Snoopy Sno-cone Machine. You will read that renowned Chef Roy Yamaguchi, of Honolulu’s Roy’s, has a daring dream – to jump out of a boat in the middle of the ocean and start swimming. Daring because Chef Yamaguchi cannot swim.
Recipes include bacon-poached farm-fresh eggs with Red Flannel Hash and saffron Hollandaise, grilled leg of lamb with chimichurri (which this reviewer prepared, and devoured), shrimp on a sugarcane stick, and, wait for it … chocolate pots de crème with fleur de sel caramel sauce, black pepper whipped cream, and chocolate espresso cookies, from Chef Gale Gand of Chicago’s TRU. Oh. My.
The book is loosely organized by course – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, with some exceptions – and is less a book of traditional cooking instruction as it is a book of culinary inspiration. (Cooks who hope to find a specific recipe might be best served by consulting the index.) Diverse cuisines are explored, and varying degrees of skill are required, yet each chef’s unique vision is explored and presented, ultimately, with their personal menu for one perfect meal.
If it’s the secret finds and resources of successful chefs you particularly enjoy, don’t miss the brief chapter entitled "Sources: The Chefs’ Artisans and Purveyors," which serves not as an exhaustive list, but perhaps a jumping off point for those of us who enjoy a good food-finds forage or scavenger hunt.
Away From the Kitchen is an inspiring selection for the skilled cook who wishes to slip into the excitement of the culinary world, perhaps one special dish at a time, and to stick around for some behind the scenes back-of-the-house exploration, as shared through the eyes, ears, and words of diverse and über-talented award-winning chefs.
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