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Book Review – The Essential Thomas Keller: The French Laundry Cookbook & Ad Hoc at Home

28 January 2011 by
Book Review – The Essential Thomas Keller: The French Laundry Cookbook & Ad Hoc at Home

The Essential Thomas Keller: The French Laundry Cookbook & Ad Hoc at Home
By Thomas Keller
Artisan, £80
ISBN 978-1579654375

Thomas Keller is one of the most iconic chefs of his generation, who is respected well beyond the borders of the USA. His culinary ethos, defined by a fierce attention to detail and utmost respect for his ingredients, has inspired countless chefs around the globe - not just those fortunate enough to have dined at his restaurants.

Leafy Yountville in Napa Valley, California, is home to three of Keller's restaurants including the fine-dining Mecca that is the French Laundry and at the other end of the scale, the more casual family restaurant Ad Hoc, where each evening a three-course set menu is served offering simple, homely food designed to be shared at the table.

Each restaurant has its own cookery book, written by Keller, and now for the first time, The French Laundry Cookbook & Ad Hoc at Home have been released together in a boxed set. The books balance each other well - while The French Laundry Cookbook is "all about finesse", Ad Hoc at Home is "all about family".

As far as chefs are concerned there are very few cookery books that have the ability to become a prized treasure in a chef's library, a point of reference used time and time again for reassurance and inspiration. However, The French Laundry Cookbook is one of them. It ticks all the boxes of what makes a great cookbook: longevity; intelligent recipes that will stand the test of time; dishes that convey balance and excitement to the reader.

The book features 150 recipes from the French Laundry kitchen and captures through essays, profiles and stunning photography, the very essence of one of the most iconic restaurants in the world. It gives a real sense of the man behind the book and his philosophy, his close relationships with suppliers, his unwavering respect for the produce and absolute attention to detail.

Meanwhile Ad Hoc at Home offers a collection of 200 recipes, best described as family comfort food, which showcase a totally different side of Keller. They include hearty soups and colourful salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, braised short ribs, chicken potpie, roast leg of lamb and lobster roll. Desserts feature homely favourites such as peaches and cream, upside down cake, ice-cream sandwiches and even a banana split. There's a chapter on homemade chutneys, compotes, jams and jellies. Recipes for Keller's mother's coconut cake and his father's favourite meatballs lend a personal touch.

The Essential Thomas Keller is the essential guide to this masterchef's brilliant approach to food from two totally different, yet equally inspiring perspectives.

If you liked this, you'll love these:
Bouchon Thomas Keller
â- The Big Fat Duck Cookbook Heston Blumenthal
â- The Complete Robuchon JoÁ«l Robuchon

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