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We have found that chefs are starting to use The Cooks Palate to prepare their "chef cookbooks". The Cooks Palate helps chefs perform important tasks such as organizing recipes and scaling them for the home audience. Successful chef cookbooks impart not only creativity but valuable, hands-on culinary expertise.
Chef cookbooks have an inherent obstacle in that they raise expectations only to disappoint. Here's how the story goes: You have just had a sublime dinner at Chez Maurice. Eager to reproduce the dining experience you buy the Chez Maurice Cookbook (written by the chef "with the help of "Teresa Jones). But you cannot.
To begin with, the restaurant experience is a complex mixture of anticipation, welcome, milieu, and service; and very little of that has anything to do with the food. And even if it is just the food you want to reproduce, we're not sure it's all that possible.
Think about it. Maurice has access to ingredients that are unavailable to you. We don't just mean quince and live crayfish and salted cod roe; he also buys better beef. What is more, he has building blocks in the form of stocks and glazes and flavored oils; all ready to go. And do not forget his staff of eager helpers who do nothing all day but trim his vegetables, mince his parsley, fillet his fish, and prepare puff pastry and homemade sorbets for his signature desserts. The better and more creative a chef he becomes, the less likely it is that you can replicate his dishes at home.
That said, when truly top-notch chefs, publish their recipes, it gets our attention, and even raises our hopes. Happily, they were dashed only a little, for while we may not be able to cook everything from these books, or in some cases hardly anything, they all impart valuable ideas and lessons.
For instance, in one chef cookbook the chef wraps bundles of cooked haricot vert in bacon and then sautés them. We find the procedure too fussy, but not the flavor combination.
Many chef cookbooks turn out to be a wealth of hands-on advice. For crisp fish skin, drag a knife blade over the uncooked fish, forcing the water to the surface, and then pull the knife back to squeegee it off. Season steaks a full day in advance. Add a drop of vinegar to a sauce and you'll be able to use less salt in it. Oddly enough, the book we thought was the least useful of the three turned out to be the one that taught us the most.