Tony

Review: Master Chef Cookbook

MasterChef CookbookThe hot-off-the-presses MasterChef Cookbook is striking the first time you look at it.  It’s satiny metallic cover embossed with the MasterChef logo is almost intimidating.  Looking at it I was left with the impression that it might open up at any moment to reveal a bright red spandex suit that would give me super powers.

The book contains recipes from each of the 14 finalists plus a contributions from hosts Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot Bowles.  Glaringly absent from the book is Chef Gordon Ramsey but honestly if you wanted a cookbook by Gordon he’s already written over a dozen.  However, if you saw a recipe on MasterChef that you just really loved then this is the book for you.

Within its 272 pages you’ll find 75 recipes and a 150 photographs making it first rate food porn.  Additionally you’ll find an essay by Bastianich entitled “Wine Notes.”  The chefs of the MasterChef kitchen have also assembled step by step instructions intended to help you master the basics of cooking called “Master the Basics.”  Now that’s branding.

graham elliot joann cianciulliThis torrent of culinary data is masterfully brought together by veteran cookbook author and producer JoAnn Cianciulli.  Cianciulli (chan-chew-lee) is one of the food industry’s top insiders having worked with most of the country’s best chefs.  She has also worked behind the scenes on some of the most popular food shows like Bravo’s Top Chef and numerous Food Network programs.

MasterChef Cookbook is a great companion to the hit series.  It brings together a behind-the-scenes look at the contestants and hosts, recipe made famous on the show and ample bonus material.  If you are a MasterChef fan then you need to get the MasterChef Cookbook published by Rodale Books and available at amazon.com.

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Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw

Respected but largely unknown New York City chef Tony Bourdain wrote a book called Kitchen Confidential over a decade ago. What has followed since is nothing short of the American dream. More books, TV shows, fame, fortune and family. Recently Bourdain released his latest, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook and is aiming for a paperback release later this year.  In order for a little pay back, Tony is offering lessor known writers (like myself) a chance at stardom.  Here, let him tell you:

Here is my entry:

Well Done: The essence of all that is cooking boiled down to fit comfortably in the proverbial nut shell.

I know people who insist that making tuna salad is “cooking.” They make the same argument for a bowl of cereal, can of soup, bag of chips and even Pop Tarts. They are “eat to live-ers” and are as alien to me as a Klingon. I, undoubtedly, am just as alien to them. Why would anyone grind chuck roast just to hand pat a burger when they could easily roll by a window and get a fat burger for under three bucks? Sadly, for them anything that doesn’t involve a combo number is “cooking.” Tragic news to someone who has enjoyed cooking since he was five years old. At the same time, good news for someone who has made a living from doing it for them.  Life is a series of trade-offs.

For a cook, cooking is pseudonymous with creating; it is art. Whether that creation is an elegant Beef Wellington or a simple reduction sauce to bring life to an otherwise boring piece of chicken it is the process itself that draws us to the kitchen. There is rhythm in the chopping of onions and melody in the sizzle of bacon. At the risk of sounding overly metaphoric the kitchen is Pink Floyd and the meal is “Dark Side of the Moon.”

I have had people tell me that the food I cook at home tastes as good as restaurant food and they mean that as a compliment. Few restaurants, no matter how extravagant can touch a really great home cooked meal. A great meal is a communal event; it brings people closer together. Yet it is also an intensely personal experience. Intimacy only serves to accentuate the sensation. There is nothing more intimate than to cook for someone. Well, nothing that is considered appropriate in a public setting.

There is a place and a time for going out and having a great dinner at a restaurant and those times should be cherished. But every meal, everyday? Any idiot with an American Express card can walk into an Le Bernardin and have a meal that excites the senses. But it is a whole other animal to create that meal with your own imagination and energy. There is a self-satisfaction that cannot be replaced no matter how much money you throw at it.

To cook well, to cook really well is to elicit an emotional response that goes beyond the palate. Truly great food either conjures memories or creates them. It can be seen in the “oh face” of your fellow diners. The first bite of a truly great meal suspends time; that bite is like “the first time” and one should savor it for what it is, ecstasy. Crunchy, gooey, cheesy, acidic, sweet ecstasy.

Like it?  Of course you do.  So go vote for it HERE.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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