Smile or Get Out of the Kitchen
By Adam Handling
Meze Publishing, £25
On the face of it, a dish of piglet belly and octopus with smoked mussel consommé and seaweed powder doesn't sound much like a winner. Certainly, that's what Michel Roux Jr thought when he told chef Adam Handling, a runner- up in the 2013 series of Master-Chef: The Professionals, the idea was "crazy" and would not work because of the number of flavours.
But work it did, as Handling recalls in the introduction to Smile or Get Out of the Kitchen, with Roux admitting after he had tasted the dish that it was incredible.
Each of the recipes, and there are a good 70 of them, is accompanied by a taste profile, where Handling provides a flavour rating on five measures: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami.
There's also an interesting little story alongside each creation, explaining its origin, such as the salmon, peas and dill dish that won him British Chef of the Year.
Handling says the book is aimed at the home cook, but the home cook who could master these recipes would certainly have to possess a high level of proficiency, not to mention a well-stocked deli, butcher and fishmonger for a meal like the goat shepherd's pie, or the artfully presented deer, cauliflower, pear and Szechuan pepper.
Handling's food is different, exciting and original, and each of the dishes looks beautiful, right down to the rustic earthenware the chef commissioned from various potters for the restaurant.
At the age of just 26, and already in possession of three AA rosettes, Handling is a chef we are likely to see a lot more of. This book would be at home on the shelf of anyone who wants to understand a new style of food that is not only refined but also lighter, healthier and wildly different to its predecessors.
By Neil Gerrard
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