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The Craft of Cooking

By Tom Colicchio (with Catherine Young, Lori Silverbush, Marco Canora and Karen De Masco)

The Craft of Cooking

In his first book, Think Like a Chef, chef/restaurateur Tom Colicchio deconstructed the art of cooking in a well-organized, accessible tome that focused on simplicity: simple techniques, ingredients, combinations and recipes. This approach has worked for his restaurant ventures at Gramercy Tavern, Craft, Craftbar and Craftsteak in Las Vegas—and it worked in the book.

This time, in his latest cookbook, Craft of Cooking, Colicchio takes the reader inside Craft. But he goes far beyond stringing together a collection of recipes glued with editorial. Craft of Cooking is an eminently readable cookbook that immerses the reader in Colicchio's world of simply prepared exquisite food.

Geared toward the skilled amateur and more ambitious cook, Craft of Cooking focuses on how things are done at Craft: not only deceptively simple recipes, but readable treatises on the restaurant itself—including interesting insider looks at how the space was designed, reservations, the "family meal" and more. Inside the book, Colicchio first tells us to "make good food" and how to use it. He follows philosophy and advice with clearly written recipes and relevant, helpful head notes. Interlaced throughout are ingredient and technique "portraits" and the essential resource guide.

The recipes are pure Craft—think braised short ribs, pan-roasted ramps and cinnamon cake doughnuts. Like the Craft menu, chapters are organized by meat, fish, vegetable, mushrooms, potatoes, grains and beans and dessert. It's not difficult to envision (or prepare) a meal of porcini risotto, sturgeon wrapped in prosciutto, braised baby fennel and coconut panna cotta. While nearly every recipe is uncomplicated and minimal, Colicchio sets forth a challenge at the book's beginning with a porchetta that calls for a brined thirty-pound piglet!

Once again, Colicchio (with Catherine Young, Lori Silverbush, Marco Canora and Karen De Masco) has written a usable, unpretentious cookbook that raises the bar on culinary appreciation.

Reviewed by Kevin Schoeler

(Updated: 11/11/08 SB)

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