Top 10 Reads from the 6th Annual International Chefs Congress

by Kathleen Culliton
July 2011


Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges
Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Bantam Books)
Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining
François Payard (HarperCollins Publishers)
Demolition Desserts
Elizabeth Falkner (Ten Speed Press)

Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work
Aki Kamozawa and H Alexander Talbot (Clarkson Potter Publishers )
Taste Buds and Molecules
François Chartier (McClelland & Stewart)
Thai Street Food
David Thompson (Ten Speed Press)
Uchi: The Cookbook
Tyson Cole and Jessica Dupuy (Umaso Publishing)

The theme for the 6th Annual International Chefs Congress, The Sixth Sense, expounds on the belief that the connection between chefs, diners, and food is deeper than mere nutrition. Through food we nurture one another, we fortify our strength, and we make and share a moment in time. Our presenters at the ICC are masters of the culinary field, especially adept at casting their spells over a wide audience. And now, in anticipation of their respective presentations at this year’s ICC, we’d like to let a few of these culinary visionaries—varied in disciplines and postal codes, united in passion—present themselves to you, in their own words.

Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges

Bantam Books
September 2007
Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef and owner of 18 restaurants around the world, pioneered Asian-fusion cuisine. In Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges, he presents dozens of recipes for reproducing the dishes that have made his restaurants—Vong, Spice Market, and 66—some of the hottest dining destinations in the country. The recipes reflect Jean-Georges’s extraordinary talent for creating intensely flavorful dishes inspired by simple home cooking and street food. The secret is in his subtle and surprising combinations, which introduce Asian flavors to traditional Western-style dishes and cooking techniques. Each recipe is laid out in a clear, easy-to-follow style, and throughout the book invaluable tips are offered for streamlining preparation and cooking. From taste-tempting appetizers, soups, and salads, to irresistible fish, meat, poultry, and vegetable dishes, to special sauces and one-of-a-kind sweets, the recipes in Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges promise to make an Asian-fusion expert of even the most spice-timid cooks.

Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining

HarperCollins Publishers
September 2006
With Bite Size, legendary Pastry Chef François Payard shows home cooks how to prepare simple, sensational appetizers that will leave guests impressed and hosts with energy to spare. It’s no surprise—Payard knows how to throw a good party. In addition to his late, but renowned, New York restaurant Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro (still very much alive in Vegas) Payard ran upscale catering company, Tastings. And now Payard presents a collection of his favorite recipes made easy for everyday cooks. Along with chapters on meat, fish, vegetable, and cheese hors d'oeuvres, Payard includes a wealth of helpful hosting tips, hints, and serving suggestions—try serving soup in shot glasses, for example. The innovative recipes use simple, easy-to-find ingredients for spectacular results such as Prosciutto-Wrapped Gnocchi, Sweet Corn Madeleines with Caviar and Crème Fraîche, and Crab and Mango Salad in Apple Cups. Each recipe is accompanied by a lush, full-color photograph to whet the appetite.

David Burke’s New American Classics

May 2008
In David Burke's New American Classics, Chef Burke presents a simple step by step process that takes the reader from a basic classical rendition of a dish through the process of innovation to the eponymous phase two of his culinary adventure, “New American Classics.” The final step of the three-pronged process provides options for leftovers, or “Second Day Meals,” as they are called here, which make use of any remaining ingredients or finished product in a decidedly playful and practical way. With Burke’s confident maneuvering, chicken goes from a classic “Farmhouse Style” roast presentation to the contemporary “Seawater-Soaked Chicken with Thyme and Poppy Seed Gnocchi,” while leftover chicken ends up in potato pancakes with apple-sour cream sauce. Burke’s recipes, from French Toast to Pot Roast, all follow this format, providing a convenient procedural guideline for anyone looking to translate the grocery list of one meal into the practice of innovative, resourceful cooking.

Demolition Desserts

Ten Speed Press
August 2007
San Francisco has proved itself a hotbed of interesting pastry, the path to which was laid in part by Elizabeth Falkner, a spiky haired rebel of a pastry chef with a reputation for spiking her sweet with savory, and vice versa, and for cheeky dish titles (like “Waking Up in a City that Never Sleeps,” and “Battleship Potemkin,” named for the Sergei Eisenstein film, which certainly made more of an impression on Falkner than on the thousands of Film Before WWII students that sit through it each year). Her desserts at Citizen Cake are famous in San Francisco and beyond, and Demolition Desserts stays true to her character and style, with illustrations, gothic lettering, and occasionally playful layouts. The prose is written for home cooks, and there are plenty of baking basics, but the stars of the book are Falkner’s cleverly composed desserts, like “Tiramisushi” and “Lovelova,” with beautiful full-page photographs of each dish.

December 1969

Fried Chicken and Champagne: a Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro

Southern Accents, Inc.
July 2010
Fried chicken and a glass of Champagne? Yes, please. Chef Lisa Dupar’s IACP award-winning cookbook explores both the hometown and haute elements of the cuisines Dupar holds most dear. A Georgia girl, who cooked across Europe and landed in the Pacific Northwest, Dupar grew up eating Southern Fried Chicken but quickly developed a taste for life’s more refined and worldly flavors. And she combines high- and low-brow foods with gusto in Fried Chicken and Champagne. Her recipe for “Frogmore Stew: Shrimp, Crab, Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn in Shellfish Broth” combines elegant ingredients with a touch of rustic sloppiness. And Ginger Molasses Cookies have all the homey simplicity you could want from a cookie—but Dupar isn’t afraid to add black pepper for kick. If by some stretch of the imagination, you can’t find something you’re dying to try from Fried Chicken and Champagne, it’s quite possible you simply don’t like food.

Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work

Clarkson Potter Publishers
November 2010
Ideas in Food is a portable book jam packed with information for professional chefs and advanced home cooks. Husband and wife team Alexander Talbot and Aki Kamozawa of work with chefs through their consulting company and blog to make food science understandable and accessible. The book is divided into one section for home cooks and another for professionals. The former section covers topics that one would mostly likely pick up in culinary school; topics like brining and dehydrating are deconstructed, explained, and utilized in tempting recipes. But it’s in the professional chapters where Talbot and Kamozawa get really interesting. They decipher hydrocolloids from xanthan gum and locust bean gum, expound on transglutaminase, and clarify the use of liquid nitrogen. Most chefs know that these chemical catalysts can transform mere ingredients into conceptual and elegant dishes, but readers of Ideas in Food will understand how.

Taste Buds and Molecules

McClelland & Stewart
August 2010
Canadian Sommelier François Chartier takes food and wine pairing to the next level in his revolutionary guide to uncovering the hidden tastes of wine in Tastebuds and Molecules. Anyone familiar with the work of Bernard Lahousse of FoodPairings will already have a brief idea of Chartier’s methodology. Deconstructing ingredients and wine to their most basic molecular structure, he offers insight on why certain pairings work and others don't. Rather than focus on the similarity of flavor profiles, Chartier steers his reader towards making complementary choices. By bringing science to an elusive art, Chartier provides access for everyone, from the novice wine aficionado to the Master Sommelier, with practical methods for enhancing the dining experience through greater sensual understanding.

Thai Street Food

Ten Speed Press
September 2010
When Chef David Thompson opened his second outpost of Nahm in Bangkok with the intention of preserving the “decaying” culinary tradition of Thai food in Bangkok, local foodies were outraged. Can anyone say cojones in Thai? Yet readers of Thai Street Food will find it difficult to reproach Thompson when he makes it so clear how much he loves Thai cuisine. The book, dedicated solely to the street food cuisine of city markets and vendors, is an education unto itself. Following meals from morning, noon, and night, this culinary day-in-the-life is packed to the brim with urban deep-fried delicacies, exotic curries, and even a mandatory pad thai. Thompson’s restaurants may have caused its initial stir in Bangkok for all the wrong reasons, but this book is going to cause a stir for the right ones.

Uchi: The Cookbook

Tyson Cole and Jessica Dupuy
Umaso Publishing
January 2011
What’s really important for Chef Tyson Cole and Jessica Dupuy is that Americans stop eating sushi like “assholes.” That means enough with the Spicy Tuna Rolls, enough with drowning the rice in soy sauce, and enough with putting up with the pre-sliced, day-old stuff that wouldn't pass in Japan. Uchi prepares chefs for a more sophisticated generation of sushi makers and sushi eaters. Cole first comprehensively demystifies the components—from kimchi to lily water—that serve as building blocks of recipes to follow. Cole’s recipes are drawn from his experience at Bond St. in New York and Uchi in Austin, his creations are understated and adult. And for the insistent "ahems," there’s even a conciliatory crunchy tuna roll. Pastry Chef Philip Speer's desserts end the book on a sweet note, tinged with the aroma of smoke.