Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Restaurant Cookbooks

On Slate today, there is an article about cooking out of restaurant cookbooks and how the meals you make at home just don't live up to the ones you get at the actual restaurant. The author attributes this to:
Variable factors like ingredient quality, temperature, and timing will ensure that a dish is different every time it's prepared, whether at a restaurant kitchen, or a home kitchen, or even from one day to another at the same restaurant.
Readers of Heat by Bill Buford know the truth, though: the cookbook recipes lie. As Buford explains, at the restaurant, they frequently add touches of spices, or layer an extra sauce under a dish, to add flavor and complexity. None of this is included in the "official" recipe, and therefore these touches are left out of the one that goes in the book. And this is intentional: why would Mario Batali or Eric Ripert want you to be able to make their signature dishes on their own?


  1. the old bait and switch... although I think I could have the chef in my kitchen looking over my shoulder and I'd still screw it up...

  2. LOL. Nothing like a little cookbook conspiracy to get your blood boiling. I've always preferred the non-celebrity cookbooks anyway. It seems to me that if they cookbook has to sell on its reputation, and not on the author's, then it is more likely to be worth my efforts in the kitchen.


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