Friday, March 9, 2012

Think Like A Chef, Seriously, THINK like a chef!

These are A Few of My Favorite Things
My all time favorite cook book is without a doubt Tom Colicchio's Think Like a Chef.   For me the book caused an epiphany that changed everything about the way I cook.  I know you're thinking draaaaahhhhma... but seriously, it's an amazing read if you are a cook.  

The Preface is a great short autobiography of how Tom went from 'rags to riches' so-to-speak.  Started cooking at 12 years old at home, then was a grill cook down the Jersey shore and after going off to train with some great chefs he now owns lord knows how many hugely successful restaurants all over the country.  It's truly a great self made man story but I'm a little old for that dream.  I just love to cook.  

And his Introduction is where it all went crazy for me.... it's about "thinking" and it affirmed what I always knew but in a way that I could put it into action.  It suddenly clicked.... don't pass a recipe up because it has peas and you don't have any or like them, think of what would work instead of the peas.... know how to cook a piece of meat or vegetable and modify the technique to match your time frame, audience, season or mood.  Recipes as IDEAS not rule books.  Ingredients as inspiration not requirements.

Learn the basic techniques:  roasting, braising, blanching, sweating {I don't think he was referring to my pre-menopausal hot flashes here}, stock making and sauce making.  He touches on them all to get you started, the perfection of course comes in the practice; but he gave me just enough cockiness to really COOK with abandon.  And from that comes great things.

I've already shared my first true love from him.... my Risotto that has evolved from his Lobster Risotto with Peas to My Risotto every which way.... and the most beloved Braised Short Rib Risotto.

There's a lot of Tom in all of my recipes and I'm sure I'll blog a bunch more of "his" recipes as the years go by but in the meanwhile, check it out yourself if you haven't already and then go COOK.

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