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Coco – 100 Emerging Culinary Stars Chosen by 10 of the World's Greatest Chefs – Book review

23 October 2009
Coco – 100 Emerging Culinary Stars Chosen by 10 of the World's Greatest Chefs – Book review

Coco: 100 Emerging Culinary Stars Chosen by 10 of the World's Greatest Chefs Various
Phaidon Press £29.95
ISBN 978-0-7148-4954-5

For all the murmurings about this book - chiefly that it's just published nepotism - let's get one thing straight: it's a fantastic book for a chef to own. The premise is simple, 10 stellar chefs - think Gordon Ramsay, Ferran Adrià and Alain Ducasse - each pick 10 up-and-coming stars of the kitchen who are then published with a short biography and an explanation of inclusion from their selector, along with their recipes and images of their signature dishes.

Of course, asked to pick these young-guns - although some are far from up-and-coming, for example, three Michelin starred chef Pascal Barbot of Paris - a few stayed rather close to home. Gordon Ramsay picks his Royal Hospital Road head chef Clare Smyth, Maze chef-patron Jason Atherton and former Pétrus head chef Tristan Welch, not to mention Lyndy Redding, whose company Absolute Taste he is involved in. Elsewhere, Fergus Henderson picks St John alumni Tom Pemberton and Jonathon Johns.

Once you can get over this hump - to be fair to Ramsay, he thought enough of Atherton, Smyth and Welch to back them at a young age, and the same applies to Henderson with his selections, so why shouldn't they pick them? - the book is a fantastic compendium of the global state of the industry to come.

A host of Brits make the line-up, and it's a nice point of note that not all are picked by fellow countrymen - Alain Ducasse picks Tom Kitchin and Shannon Bennett chooses Anthony Demetre. There's also a few pleasant surprises in there, but few familiar with the cuisines of Tom Pemberton and Jacob Kenedy would begrudge their selection. And, of course, there are glaring exclusions - Nathan Outlaw and Sat Bains the most obvious candidates.

However many names you think you might know worldwide, there are bound to be some intriguing new chefs to explore, whose recipes are broken down piecemeal with photographs, from Hugh Acheson to Eric Zeobold.

Quite simply, this is the kind of book to have to hand when a friend returns from a trip to Demark or Athens, Georgia, raving about a meal at the lesser-known Malling & Schmidt or Five & Ten.

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