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Culinary Dream Team

Texas authors headline the book fest Cooking Tent

By Kate Thornberry, Fri., Oct. 26, 2012

Secrets of the Best Chefs

by Adam Roberts (Artisan, $27.95, 400 pp.)

Adam Roberts, author of the food blog The Amateur Gourmet, is one of the most successful food bloggers out there, and once you work with this book, it becomes perfectly clear why. Roberts has a unique flair for adapting the recipes and cooking techniques of highly trained chefs and interpreting them for the home cook. He shows particular sensitivity for replacing bizarre or hard-to-find ingredients with obtainable ones (such as substituting chorizo for Mexican blood sausage) and determining whether particular steps (such as freezing an ingredient with liquid nitrogen) is really practical or necessary for a home cook (spoiler: It's not!). In preparation for this book, Roberts traveled the country and cooked alongside 50 of America's most renowned chefs – superstars like Alice Waters, Jonathan Waxman, Nancy Silverton, Angelish Wilson, Michael White, and Lidia Bastianich. He watched and learned, took notes, asked questions, and figured out how to re-create three signature dishes by each of them in his home kitchen. This volume is loaded with gorgeous photographs, revealing stories, and actual cooking secrets from every chef (the title is no lie!). Best of all, the recipes are fantastic: They accurately capture signature flavors and styles, but remain doable and fun. I made Soul Food avatar Angelish Wilson's Fried Chicken, a deceptively simple recipe that Roberts calls his new "go-to" fried chicken, and it was a culinary revelation. Chef Curtis Duffy's Chilled Corn Soup was equally unforgettable. 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.

Adam Roberts appears in the Texas State Capit­ol Extension, Rm. E2.036, on Sunday from 3:15-4pm.

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