FRESH, Mitchell Tonks

22 July 2004 by
FRESH, Mitchell Tonks

When you're next at your favourite bookshop thumbing through the new cookbook releases, ask yourself one question: Why am I here? Are you just killing time, do the pretty pictures keep you browsing, do you then buy them just to adorn the shelves of your kitchen?

Or are you someone who collects cookbooks because cooking is your passion, and the books encourage you to develop your skills in the kitchen further by stimulating ideas that make you an even better cook?

For me, a cookbook must be a knowledge compendium, bought because it helps to stimulate new ideas and hence pleasurable dining experiences for my guests at home - which for me is my restaurant. The gourmet cooks at home must find cookbook recipes easy to prepare and most of all, taste great.

The book that has today crossed my stove to review has been compiled by Mitchell Tonks, fishmonger, restaurateur, cook and now writer of several books. Aptly titled Fresh, this is a book about Tonks's love affair with fish.

Unquestionably, Tonks has a vast storehouse of knowledge when it comes to buying and preparing fish for sale, but telling one and all that the cooking of fish is easy is a little understated. It should be fun and interesting but it can also be tough to cook fish and seafood really well when you're a novice.

The chapters on buying and preparing fish are a very useful compendium for all amateur lovers of seafood. Much of the information contained here is knowledge most professional chefs should already have.

The recipes and dishes are very easy to prepare and present, and also let you know other things you can try as well. The photography is natural, and the food looks like I want to eat it off the page, which is as it should be because the presentation of all food is an art form, be it on page or a plate.

For myself, as an experienced professional chef, Fresh is probably not a compendium I would rush to add to my collection. Many of the contents are simple, and didn't stimulate new ideas for me, but this was probably not what Tonks was trying to achieve, as the book is aimed primarily at home cooks.

But it would make a great Christmas present for my brother-in-law, who fancies himself as a home gourmet.
Scott Webster, chef-proprietor, Osia, London

Mitchell Tonks
Penguin-Michael Joseph, £20
ISBN 0-718-14628-X

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