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Cookbooks, Food & Wine

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (10 votes)

Released: 2003-10-28

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Craft of Cooking: Notes and Recipes from a Restaurant Kitchen by Tom Colicchio


From Tom Colicchio, chef/co-owner of New York’s acclaimed Gramercy Tavern, comes a book that profiles the food and philosophy of Craft, his unique restaurant in the heart of New York’s Flatiron district, and winner of the 2002 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. From its food to its architecture and menu design, Craft has been celebrated for its courageous movement away from culinary theatrics and over-the-top presentations, back to the simple magic of great food.

Realizing that his own culinary style had grown increasingly unembellished, and gambling that New York diners were experiencing that same kind of culinary fatigue (brought on by too much “fancy food”), Colicchio set out to prove that the finest food didn’t have to be the most complicated. From its opening in March 2001, Craft offered diners simple, soulful dishes centered around single ingredients that went on to shake up many people’s ideas of what “restaurant food” should be like.

Craft of Cooking leads you through Colicchio’s thought process in choosing raw materials—like what to look for in fresh fish, or how to choose the perfect mushroom—to show that good food is available to anyone with access to a good supermarket, farm stand, or gourmet grocery. The book also features “Day-in-the-Life-of-Craft” portraits, which offer a fascinating, behind-the-scenes glimpse at areas of the restaurant beyond the dining room. These segments allow the reader to peer into the fast-paced prep kitchen, to witness the high drama of reservations, and to get a taste of the humor and empathy necessary to serve New York’s colorful visitors and foodies.

And then there are the recipes. Craft of Cooking presents 140 recipes that range from the simplest dish of spring peas to roasted fish; from lush but effortless braises to complex brining and curing of meat for homemade charcuterie, included to give the reader a “fly-on-the-wall” experience of visiting the Craft kitchen for themselves. Dishes are divided–like the Craft menu itself–into categories of meat, fish, vegetables, potatoes, grains, desserts, and pantry, and then further delineated by technique–roasting, braising, sautéing, etc.–with abundant suggestions and technical tips. Using Tom’s straightforward and friendly voice, Craft of Cooking offers recipes suited to any purpose—from a quick family meal to a festive dinner party for twelve.

As he did in his James Beard award-winning book, Think Like a Chef, Colicchio uses Craft of Cooking to teach, tell his story, and offer inspiration to cooks of any skill level. With more than 100 full-color and black-and-white photographs, Craft of Cooking is destined to become a staple of home cooks everywhere—the one “restaurant cookbook” they can’t live without.

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Editorial Review

Curing duck breasts and hanging them like hams in your refrigerator for three weeks may not be your particular pail of blueberries. Or brining a whole, 30-pound piglet as a precursor for making porchetta. But how about grilling a hangar steak and slathering it with a bordelaise sauce? Mind you, this is a sauce that calls for a bottle of dry red wine and three quarts of veal stock as well as the requisite vegetables. But that's the point here: the best imaginable ingredients and a lot of focused work leading to a sublimely simple outcome. Simple in this case being an ultimate grilled steak experience. The kind of experience dished up at Tom Colicchio's restaurant Craft. Craft of Cooking is Colicchio's way of making that same experience available in your own home.

The author of Think Like a Chef is betting that if he shows you what he does in a commercial kitchen, it will have an impact on your home cooking. Because what he does in his kitchen is what he likes to eat at home. It's not about speed, and it's not about convenience. It's about making food taste great without fanfare or pretension. The book breaks out in major ingredient sections, meat, fish, vegetables, and the like. Subsections in meat, for example, include charcuterie, roasting and grilling, and braising. Some of the recipes, like the one for baby lamb, are simply too big for the home kitchen. But Colicchio wants you to see what he's up to. He wants you to think about it. There are long asides about various products–the hangar steak, mesclun, beurre fondue–called ingredient portraits. And there are notes that detail how all the elements of a restaurant from prep to wine service fit together.

For anyone who simply loves to read delicious recipes, this is an elegant book. For those home cooks with some experience–skilled amateurs–Craft of Cooking is a challenge as well as a portal to a whole new realm of fine cuisine. –Schuyler Ingle

Book Details

Author: Tom Colicchio Publisher: Clarkson Potter Binding: Hardcover Language: English Pages: 272

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