Atlanta has been well represented on Bravo TV’s Top Chef shows. Now three of our own Top Chef stars — Richard Blais, Hugh Acheson and Kevin Gillespie — are capitalizing on their national exposure with cookbooks.
Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais announced his cookbook deal on his Facebook page last week. He wrote, “BIG NEWS, as promised!! I’m so excited for you all to see this book…” The book deal is with Clarkson Potter, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House, Inc. and is scheduled to be released in November 2012.
According to a press release, the book “will feature Blais’s signature style—a creative and often quirky approach to cooking and food.” I had a chance to speak with Richard about his cookbook and asked him about the “quirky” label. He tells me the use of the word is a move away from the “mad scientist or crazy chef” terminology. To him, quirky means doing “something unique and somewhat different or off the beaten path. It’s someone who takes an idea and twists it using interesting ingredients.”
I was curious about the book’s intended audience. Will it rely on molecular gastronomy techniques and specialty equipment that would preclude many home cooks from using the recipes? Richard tells me, “It is most important for me to release something that has application for everyone from the restaurant chef, restaurant manager, the cook who watches Top Chef or the serious home cook. As I develop recipes, I have the home cook in mind.” The book will, however, include tips for how to take a recipe “to the next level” with some of the more advanced techniques for which Blais is known.
Richard admits that he could have put out a cookbook a few years ago but that until now, he “never felt ready to tell the whole story.” He calls himself an “aspiring writer” and says he is writing the text for the book himself. “If you’re outside of Atlanta, you might not know my whole story. So, the book will be laced with short stories that will segue into recipes.” (As an aside, if you’ve never read the “Knife’s Edge” pieces he’s written for Creative Loafing, you should. Here’s one I particularly enjoyed.)
We have two more reasons to be excited. Top Chef Masters alum Hugh Acheson and Top Chef Season 6 finalist Kevin Gillespie both have cookbooks in the works, as well. The first of these to hit the shelves will be ”A New Turn in the South: The Cuisine of Hugh Acheson” ($37.50 hardcover). Available on 10/18/11, it will contain 120 recipes and 100 color photographs, also being published by Clarkson Potter. The book will present a modern take on Southern cuisine, which is influenced by Acheson’s French culinary training and an emphasis on sourcing local ingredients. According to the Clarkson Potter website, “It is a visual and culinary record of the South that is both current and bound to tradition.”
Like Blais, Acheson has written the text for his book. At a recent demonstration where he mentioned the book, Acheson joked, “Many books are written by ghost writers these days. I found that out after I’d written mine.” In addition, many of his original line drawings and sketches will appear in his cookbook.
Kevin Gillespie will also share his culinary creativity with not one but two cookbooks to be released in the Fall of 2012 and Fall of 2013. Details are slim at this time, but here’s the word from the press release: “With recipes conceptualized through quality ingredients, mirroring the kitchen at Woodfire Grill, the cookbooks showcase Kevin’s passion for his food through rustic, raw, and “heirloomesque” photos and celebrate Kevin’s philosophy that learning is one of the key values in good cooking.” Gillespie will work with cookbook author David Joachim and Gena Berry will serve as the recipe editor for the project.
Looks like we’ll have lots of reading (and cooking) to do. I can’t wait.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog
– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.