Chef cookbooks used to be vehicles to display virtuosity. Intended for the coffee table rather than the kitchen, they were oversized tomes filled with spectacular photos of plated food. Recipes would begin with “Step 1: Roast the veal bones for demiglace” — a 36-hour process. And they would end with “Step 16: Deep-fry the carrot frizzles for garnish.” The chef, dressed in impeccable kitchen whites, would pose smiling with the finished dish, his teeth as sparkling as the china.
Today’s chefs aim to present themselves as enthusiastic cooks who want to share their notions about flavor combination and teach their readers cool techniques to apply to their home kitchens. Like us civilians, they putter around on Sundays but have to get quick meals on the table during the week. They try to source the best ingredients, but realize most of us rely on neighborhood supermarkets rather than butchers and fishmongers. They think about their health and that of their kids. They know good