Individual Chefs & Restaurants

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Maenam

Maenam

A Fresh Approach to Thai Cooking
edition:Hardcover
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Love Is Served

Love Is Served

Inspired Plant-Based Recipes from Southern California
edition:Hardcover
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Sous Vide
Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

I have been cooking professionally since I was sixteen years old. The past rewarding yet arduous thirty-one years of learning the nuances of food and watching over countless braises, reductions, roasts, and poaches were anchored in teachings that have been culinary bible verse for hundreds of years. Apart from some useful gadgets that have come along, and, I guess, gas and electricity, my cooking techniques are much the same as one would have found in a professional kitchen in France 150 years ago. That timeless foundation has served me well, and changes in food developed at a tectonic pace, at least until fifteen years or so ago. 

One of the biggest changes was that “sous vide” became a productive and popular technique for cooking. I remember seeing the cooks in my kitchens starting to use the technology, immersing themselves in the parameters and advantages of cooking food, sealed in bags, in a precisely temperaturecontrolled water bath. That has never sounded romantic. But the results were impressive, and I was equally impressed with these younger chefs, maybe five to ten years my junior, the first phalanx of a generation who have completely changed the world of food. Watching them learn new techniques has been a wonder; I still look in admiration, and sometimes I feel like the old curmudgeon: “We used to have to cook hundreds of steaks to finally know how to get it medium-rare every single time! Kids these days can just put it in a bag? Oh, and I had to walk miles in the snow to get to my fifteen-hour work shift!”

I jest, but some of that is true, save for the walk to work. I usually took the bus. I guess I am just trying to show you how much cooking really has changed in recent years. Technology has completely altered the way we move and act in the kitchen, re-choreographing the dance of line cooking, with the new moves allowing us to precisely achieve temperatures that were a guessing game before. Steam ovens, tilt skillets, induction burners, Cryovac machines and immersion circulators have us culinarily dancing to a different tune. 

When sous vide cooking equipment became available to restaurants through a company called PolyScience, the circulators looked like they had been pulled from a steampunk science lab, and, well, they pretty much had been. They initially cost $1,000, and fine dining bought in—hook, line, and sinker—because chefs have a universal yearning to find new ways to produce dishes. 

What sous vide did for restaurants was speed up the final execution of food by having much of the food cooked and ready for reheating or a quick sear before service. It guaranteed consistency through accurate cooking temperatures, and reduced food waste through shrinkage during the cooking process. But the sous vide method also had a huge impact on taste. When you learn how to cook a piece of meat or fish (or anything else) in a water bath, understanding the perfect temperature at which the flesh will set up and be cooked but still retain moisture and flavor, you really change how customers eat and how chefs work. For those chefs taking notes on times and temps and homing in on the exact doneness and texture and flavor of the food they were cooking, sous vide was a game changer. 

The technology is actually pretty basic when it comes to sous vide, and many thermal circulators have come onto the market. These are essentially thermostat-controlled heating devices with a motor that moves the water around at the precise desired temperature. That’s it. But, as with many advances in technology, it takes a while for each new gadget to become commonly available, and I can say this with good experience: My dear father was one of the first people to buy the first IBM home computer, which boasted the processing power of today’s toasters for about $20,000. Simple economics shows that more competition drives down prices, and when combined with advances partly in production and partly in technology—well, the price of the circulators is now pretty universally around the $100 to $200 range, and lots of models are available for under $100. You can spend more for commercially robust versions, but the inexpensive ones will get the job done, with aplomb, in a home kitchen. 

With so many gadgets, electric pots, fancy ovens, and fridges with Wi-Fi connections, why do you need a sous vide setup in today’s world? Well, that is a good question. Although ostensibly a tech gadget, the sous vide circulator is truly a great way to nail old-school cooking. It is a way to efficiently and cleanly make you a better cook, and the often long cook times give you the same freedom that the slow cooker does: the power to walk away from the kitchen and return hours later to a nourishing from-scratch meal. 

In fact, sous vide takes that convenience even further: A steak at 129°F is a medium-rare steak, so it can sit in a 129°F water bath for hours and stay a medium-rare steak. You can go run some errands, come back, take a shower, and get that dinner on the table whenever you feel like it. (Okay, okay, technically the steak can’t last forever at that temperature—it will continue to keep cooking and get mushy-soft if you leave it in there all day—but for most intents and purposes, sous vide will serve to hold your food hot for as long as you need it to.) 

And it’s not just convenience and precision. There are so many things that you can make—or make better—with sous vide cooking. It opens up new doors for culinary pursuits. 

In this book, I share recipes that show some of my favorite characteristics of this method of cooking. I walk you through the basic techniques, and the recipes highlight a whole host of ways sous vide can make your cooking easier, more convenient, and more delicious. It might seem that it’s from the future, but really, it’s part of the lineage that connects us to the days when humans first discovered cooking. It’s a way to get us cooking more, at home, for the people around us.

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Calgary Eats

Calgary Eats

Signature Recipes from the City's Best Restaurants and Bars
edition:Hardcover
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Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse
Excerpt

Prologue

I love restaurants. Everything about them. Always have.

A restaurant is both a superficial and deeply profound experience. Restaurants can leave an existential mark on your life though you’re essentially just sitting down in a place to eat food and drink booze.

A restaurant is built on a foundation of broken hearts, failed relationships, trips to the hardware store, the clinic, extended credit and the goodwill of people who care about you. Writing a book and building a restaurant are deeply personal acts. They require everything of you, your passion and your spirit. You can meander in fits and starts for months, years even, down the wrong path, all to get to the right one. Books and restaurants, the best ones in my estimation, are built on unworkable rewrites and failed ideas, and let me tell you: that body count is high.

Writing a book or opening a restaurant can make you lose your mind.

Until you haven’t.

And then it clicks. And that’s Day 1. That’s where you start.

Building and then maintaining a restaurant is about loyalty. And this is why Joe Beef thrives. Because it is a deeply personal restaurant. That is not to say the food made in this tiny French restaurant isn’t technically on point (it is) or that the old cottage influence of Maine or Gaspé won’t fill you with nostalgia (it will), or that the care of the staff doesn’t enchant you (they do).

The attraction to Joe Beef is due to its authenticity. You cannot bullshit people with an inauthentic voice or cooking.  Well, you can. But it won’t last.

“Deeply personal” is the beginning and the end of Fred and David’s playbook.

***

The point of a prologue is to make overarching sense of the chapters, to lay out the sequence of what you’re about to read. To pop the hood and preview what’s inside. But I’m not going to do that. Because this book is simply about where we are now.
Surviving the Apocalypse was a theme we dreamt up in 2014. We’re well aware there have been a few instances (some extreme weather, more-than-extreme elections) over the last couple years when it seemed survivalism and talk of impending doom had jumped the shark. The cars were packed and the E.T.  suits were zipped. The zeitgeist seemed to be closing in on us. Maybe the world was actually going to end. But this book was never about the headline.

This book is about how to build things for yourself.
This book is about how to make it on your own.
We don’t expect anyone to build a trout pond that doesn’t work, like our pond at Joe Beef. Or to create your own makeshift cellar to house 31 bunker-friendly foods (though it would be prudent). But maybe you’ll write a poem about the Laurentians. Or make wine in a Yeti cooler. Or cook up a Pot-au-Feu in the autumn for your girlfriend, and then a baby for the spring.

We set out to write a book about shutting out the noise, because that was the problem in our own lives. We vowed there would be fewer recipes than in our first book (The Art of Living According to Joe Beef henceforth referred to as Book One), because recipes are time-consuming to write, but… we found inspiration in our weird theme and are giving you even more this time around (158!). So, the joke’s on us.

After 12 years of Joe Beef, and seven years after our first book, we think you know us by now. And so, in the pages to come, you’ll find good ideas, less good ideas and other ramblings. You’ll find etiquette on how children should behave at dinner, quick tricks for cheat sauces, a chapter devoted to the weird and wonderful Québec tradition of celebrating Christmas-in-July, a recipe for soap, and a towering cake made of rum balls.

I waitressed at Joe Beef on Day 1. We never thought we would make it to Week 2.

We never imagined people could love the restaurant as much as they do.

We never dreamt of writing a book.

We never thought anyone other than maybe our moms would buy the book.

And we definitely didn’t think we would have the opportunity for a second.

With gratitude and tremendous love, this book is dedicated to our city of Montreal.

—M. E.

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Earth to Table Every Day

Earth to Table Every Day

Cooking with Good Ingredients Through the Seasons
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

Our Story

The steel town of Hamilton, Ontario, was where we became friends and colleagues, and where we found the creative space and support to fashion an earth-to-table experience that set us apart and started us on our inevitable course towards building our first restaurant, Earth to Table: Bread Bar. (We refer to it, in this cookbook as in life, simply as Bread Bar.) In 2005, as the executive chef and the pastry chef at a local establishment called the Ancaster Mill, we started hunting for farmers to buy local food from. Soon after, Chris Krucker of ManoRun Organic Farm approached us about ordering his produce for our kitchen. Chris appeared at a moment of synchronicity—we had long wanted to pro­vide a dining experience that would illustrate the journey of food from farm to restaurant. ManoRun would supply our kitchen with delicious locally grown, seasonal produce, and we and our staff would have the opportunity to dig in the dirt by working at the farm. What followed was a deep lesson in the differences between restaurants and farms, and farmers and chefs, and it was the inspiration for our first book, Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm.
 
Earth to Table followed a year-long journey of food from Chris’s farm to our restaurant tables at Ancaster Mill, and celebrated the glorious benefits of eating seasonally. For us it was a watershed moment. Much has happened since Earth to Table was published in 2009. Back then, farmers’ markets were just beginning to wedge themselves into urban spaces in towns and cities across the country. Today, throughout spring, summer, and autumn, you can find local farmers, both new and old generation, selling hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and free-range eggs alongside locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh-baked goods, and artisanal honey in urban parking lots and disused spaces between buildings. All that delicious growth affected us in powerful ways and was the motiva­tion behind long-held dreams.
 
As chefs tend to do during punishing restaurant hours, we fantasize about opening our own place: Jeff wanted to open a pizzeria; Bettina, a bakery. Push led to shove led to leap and—with some outside encouragement—Bread Bar was born. We were astonished at how quickly the res­taurant became a popular hangout on the local dining and take-out scene. When we first opened, we needed a single 50-pound bag of flour a day to make pizza dough. Now we go through many, many more.
 
At first, we planned to offer counter service only, but the overwhelming demand for food made with “good ingre­dients that matter” led us to add a bar and more restaurant seating a year or so later, and the basement eventually became baker’s central for all our operations. It wasn’t long before we opened another Bread Bar restaurant, this time in Guelph, and as we write this there are plans for a third. Our restaurants embrace the earth-to-table philosophy that permeates our seasonal menus and our approach to food. Customers immediately welcomed our fresh, seasonal dishes and supported us as we experimented to find a balance between food that was familiar and comforting and a menu that changed with the weather.
 
One of the lessons we learned through our relation­ship with Chris Krucker and ManoRun Organic Farm is that we are not farmers. Just like the restaurant life, farming is gruelling work and not for the faint of heart or body. Nature can bless and damn you in the same year. Thankfully, there are more young farmers willing to dig deep and take on the challenge so that we can focus on cooking good food.
 
But one thing we noticed is that for many new farmers, the greatest barrier to living their dream is a lack of access to land. This challenge was one of the reasons we decided to purchase some farmland with our company Pearle Hospitality in 2010. There, in partnership with an amazing organization called Farm Start, we set up an organic “incu­bator farm,” at the time one of only two in Canada. We set aside fifty acres to rent out to budding farmers who practise organic agriculture, and each farmer gets four years to make their efforts work as a complete business. Rowena Cruz, a computer animator who originally showed up at the Ancaster Mill’s kitchen door selling her tomatoes, was one of those incubator farmers. Today, she is one of our field managers and probably the most successful farmer to come out of the Earth to Table farm. For Bread Bar, we currently plant six acres, on which Rowena is growing cucumbers, squash, lettuce greens, tomatoes, and much more for us. Every winter our chefs meet to pore over seed catalogues and plan for the spring planting.
 
Something else that became apparent was that through our connection with local farmers, we connected even more deeply with the community around Bread Bar. People came to us for coffee, business lunches, pizza runs, family dinners, and celebrations. Even the core contingent of recipe testers for this book hail from the neighbourhood. They are committed to our food and what it represents.
 
That community goodwill made us realize it was time to write another cookbook—one that celebrates how good food can enrich your life every day. We are a duo of food hedonists: Bettina nurtures the authentic connection with the community and delights customers with her delicious and thoughtful approach to baking. Jeff is always seeking and exploring fresh flavours to create new favourites. You’ll find all that salt-and-pepper goodness in this book’s recipes because there is no pretense when it comes to Bread Bar’s motto, “Good ingredients matter.”
 
According to Lenore Newman, author of Speaking in Cod Tongues, Canadian cuisine has several defining features: wild food, indigenous food, and seasonal food, with a focus on ingredients ahead of recipes. All these elements are in tangible evidence at Bread Bar. Bettina has foraged for garlic ramps for topping pizza and hauled a bumper crop of rhubarb from her backyard to the restau­rant to use in pies and scones. Wild rice in a spicy lentil salad and rainbow trout cooked campfire style embrace the indigenous element. And the summer heat floods us with sweet tomatoes from local farmers for our Heirloom Tomato Salad (page 58), an homage to the seasonal along with many other fruits and vegetables.
 
The tricky thing about eating seasonally is that it’s much harder to achieve in a four-season climate where the growing season is unpredictable. By the time spring’s bounty starts to arrive at our doorstep, people are wearing shorts in anticipation of summer’s heat and may not be interested in eating asparagus or ramps. August is one of those months where we simply can’t keep up with the amount of fresh produce arriving daily at the kitchen, though we do our best to preserve as much as possible for use during the dreary days of winter.
 
Bread Bar excels at showcasing good ingredients in simple dishes that keep drawing customers back. For us, delicious, good food is the priority. And that begins with the choice of ingredients. When you read a menu, your cravings often guide your choice of meal, and often that means locking on to an ingredient that you know and love, whether that is beets or arugula, steak or chicken, vanilla or chocolate. And when that familiar ingredient is prepared and presented with creativity and thoughtfulness, it can become something new and exciting, familiar and fresh simultaneously. That is the essence of good food.
 
For us, ingredients are paramount, but not just the ones that ripen on vines or are hidden in the soil, or live in the fields and on farms. The ingredients of goodness, community, comfort, taste, and joy are interwoven in every dish that graces our tables. That sounds complicated, but it isn’t. It’s essentially what we all hope for when we sit down at a family meal. We encourage home cooks to visit the farmers’ markets rather than the grocery store and not only rediscover where their food comes from but experi­ence the fun of doing so. Above all, this book insists on experiencing the flavour of joy.
 
Good food is neither simple nor uncomplicated when you consider the chemistry of flavour and texture. But it can be simple if you take the time to savour it. Eating a meal isn’t supposed to mimic speed-dating. In an era where mindfulness is marketed as an antidote to the “fear of missing out,” the case for enjoying good food is
not an opportunistic public relations gimmick. You will miss out on something good—and miss out on joy—if you treat a meal as immediate rocket fuel, ingredients as a medicine chest, and cooking as a chore.
 
This book explores familiar ingredients and dishes in a fresh way, and encourages you to respect the flavour inherent in good food. Enhance it, but don’t overwhelm it. That’s part of Bread Bar’s secret to success, and what we want to share with you in this book. This is our version of seasonal, fresh, delicious food.

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Set for the Holidays with Anna Olson

Set for the Holidays with Anna Olson

Recipes to Bring Comfort and Joy: From Starters to Sweets, for the Festive Season and Almost Every Day
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

THE MAIN EVENT

You get the call . . . this year it’s YOUR turn to host the big family dinner. No pressure, just make the best meal your family has ever had! I still remember the very first big family holiday dinner I hosted. It was my first Thanksgiving out of university, years before I studied to become a chef, and I was proud to have an apartment with a decent kitchen (even then, it was a priority for me!). I can’t recall the turkey and stuffing, although I’m sure there were phone calls home to Mom to guide me through it, but I do remember being immensely proud of the pumpkin pie—my first ever attempt. It was only as I was bringing it to the table that I realized I had completely forgotten to add any sugar to the filling! I made a 180 back to the kitchen, poked holes into the filling with a skewer and poured maple syrup overtop, hoping it would seep in. It didn’t.

On that note, I now share with you the wisdom accumulated over the years that have followed that very first festive meal. I’ve included three menus, one of them a vegetarian option, that will help you tailor the dinner to Thanksgiving or Christmas. I offer traditional preparations and some more unconventional ones, or combine a couple if you have both vegetarians and meat eaters in your group. This is your year!

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