The Caterer

Book review: Women Chefs of New York by Nadia Arumugam

25 February 2016 by
Book review: Women Chefs of New York by Nadia Arumugam

Bloomsbury, £25

Some might argue that focusing on ‘women chefs', rather than simply ‘chefs', does a disservice to the high-achieving culinary professionals involved. And yet, there is no denying that cooking is still a male-dominated arena at a Michelin-starred level.

So, although we may aspire to a day when there is no need for a separate book on women, this tome from food writer Nadia Arumugam is nonetheless a triumphant look at the brilliant food of 25 varied and creative chefs.

Rather than grouping recipes into starters, mains and desserts, each chef is presented in turn, with fascinating tales of how they got into cooking, followed by four of their most representative dishes.

Often seen as the vanguard of restaurants and new food trends, the cuisine of New York always carries a certain cachet; a reputation of being ahead of the game, mixing international influences with new techniques, and these chefs are no exception.

The recipes are an eclectic mix of Thai, Italian, Mexican, British, Indian and Malay, and there are even a few nods to classic European techniques, revealing plates full of bold flavours, such as Catalan fricandó veal stew (Alex Raij) and orzo mac 'n' cheese with black truffle butter (Amanda Frei- tag). There are also summery, playful dishes, such as lemon paletas (or ice pops) with verbena-steeped berries (Fany Gerson); and raspberry pistachio macaron tartlets (Jennifer Yee).

There is personality bursting from each page of this book, and the impression is that of a giant festival of flavours, where all your favourite friends have showed up in one room bearing their best recipes. From delicate plates to comfort food, this is a book for anyone looking for a snapshot of the Big Apple and its heartfelt food; as much a melting pot of cultures and influences as New York itself.

Read a recipe from the book: Oxtails braised in red wine and bitter chocolate >>

By Hannah Thompson

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  • Great Women Chefs of Europe Gilles Pudlowski and Maurice Rougemont

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