The Art of Cooking with a Master Chef. Only the best
Michel Roux (translated by Kate Whiteman) Photography by Martin Brigdale
What it says on the back cover
Michael Roux is a celebrated chef at the top of his profession. For 30 years he has been chef patron of the Waterside Inn. Bray, renowned for the high quality of its classic French cooking and a prized Michelin three-starred restaurant since 1985. Michel is regarded as one of the finest chefs in Europe and holds many culinary honours.
Only the best is what the product of a lifetimes devotion to superb food- an innovative collection of over 130 recipes, all of which can be achieved easily at home.
The book is arranged by style of cooking – from sauces and marinades, through steamed and poached dishes, pan fried food, grills and roasts, to baking.
As well as French techniques, Michel also covers Italian pasta making, Japanese tempura, Chinese poach roasting, and other culinary methods from around the world.
Brilliant photographs many of them in close up- make this a cookbook that is visually beautiful as it is clear to follow.
What made me pick up this book?
Look at my title of this blog entry. Note how I did not write in English? For those of you who have French as your first or second (or even third language) you will note that I wrote the title of this book in French. Now I do not speak French but through my foodie journey I have learnt words that are indeed from other cultures and through perhaps my favourite cookbook on my shelves-the Grandfather of all of my books the Larousse Gastronomique. This book is like a bible to a foodie like me. It is often updated and revised so many times but most of it still rings true in this foodies ears which is how I learnt about various foods, techniques and picked up a bit of the L’art des mots français without trying to sound I didn’t know what I was talking about. I also trained in hospitality when I left school. I have certificates from what was then our Hotel and Industry Training Board when I worked in Tourism. Sheesh I even learnt silver service back then! I do not have not a Chef’s qualification and sometimes wished I had but I know I appreciate the fine quality of what are (to me) some of the most beautiful dishes in the world, that all happen to derive from France. I gush when I admit that it was Michel Roux’s name that stood out as I knew his name, well the younger one of the two (the other being his father) from watching Masterchef UK. It is Michel Roux Jnr who wrote this book and like his father before him, these men have created some exceptional quality food both for home cooks and for high quality restaurants. Bon appétit!
About the book
OK I admit it (again) I only paid $1.00 NZD for this book… Yes a tiny cost for an exceptionally well thought out and well constructed cookbook for anyone who has an interest in French cookery and for fans of Michel Roux. How did I manage to score this book? This time I did not walk into my local antique shop, no siree I actually purchased it in my local library’s book sale that was on recently when they were having a big clean out and where their loss was my gain. Hundreds of boxes were being sold of beautiful treasures that I know that will stay on my shelves indefinitely. This book is a treasure and like the back cover suggests, Roux has crammed in so much into a softcover book of a 192 pages that I am delighted to say will stay on my shelves. Initially it looks like a rather bland book. My edition shows a rather chunky typeface introducing Michael Roux’s name to the reader and then underneath shows a delight of a flaky pastry croustade with vegetable spaghetti… sounds and looks divine and although I have yet to try the recipes in this book I have leaved through it knowing I can cook the food that is in here. It is ideal for home cooks and there is a lovely section on roasting meats, a popular dish we here in New Zealand love to savour.
What is nice is the effort that the author has gone into producing the book, making your own pasta dough can be found in here and although some ingredients may not always be found I am sure that substitutes can be replaced especially with some of the mushrooms used in the recipe Wild Mushroom Cappelletti with Herb Salsa. Personally I would check out the ingredients before delving into rearranging what is on the ingredient list. Shop around as you discover new flavours and textures. When I say substitutes could be made, do your homework first on the recipe and as a last resort then use what you may have or may be able to use. Don’t go for something that’s a bit cheaper, if you want something truly delicious from a book such as this, be prepared to pay a bit extra and the results will be worth it. A button mushroom may be perfectly acceptable in one dish but not so in others. Look at the recipe that you reading, study it and visualise yourself immersed into making it. Are the ingredients on your shelf or do you need to buy everything just to make it? If its too expensive for you, look at something else. I always think like this as I am shopping and its best to check out what is in season too to cut your costs. This would make an excellent book for an intermediate to advanced home cook.
Is this book worth buying?
For its price (that I paid for the book) I think it most certainly was. It seems to be out of print at the moment so it may only be possible to purchase a book such as this in a book sale or something similar. I loved the book also for its lovely photography and although its not a glossy book, the photographs illustrate nicely how the food should look all of which are simple and visually appealing. An ideal book for any Masterchef contestant in the making! The techniques are of several as it suggests and the different components are several from pan frying to poaching, steaming to sautéing.
Check it out
“I regard olive oil as the diva of flavourings, I prefer first pressing extra virgin olive oil, and use it sparingly to avoid drowning the taste of the main ingredient. Use it plain, or flavoured with a few chives, basil, perhaps even lemon verbena” ( Roux, 2002).