Pros: great recipes, wonderful stories
Cons: difficult to find ingredients, no illustrations of steps
There are many cookbooks that are merely a collection of recipes. And then there are cookbooks like Chef John Besh's My New Orleans. Artfully written and beautifully constructed, this cook contains stories, memories, and anecdotes that draws the reader in and really sets the mood for the fantastic recipes. 5 stars for writing.
There are some beautiful illustrations of food, people, and places that make this a stunning book to read. The only drawback will be for those who want illustrations of techniques. You will not find any such illustrations here. Besh is simply trying to share the joy and comfort of the food he knows, not give you a crash course on techniques. 4 stars for illustrations.
That being said, there are very few difficult techniques required to recreate Besh's recipes. A decent home cook with proper equipment should have no problems. Perhaps the most difficult technique, at least for those who have never tried, is making a proper dark roux. The recipes themselves are fantastic. Most of John Besh's recipes (and this is true of his food as well) draw heavily on fresh, local ingredients, such as coastal lamb and Ponchatoula strawberries. Some ingredients may be difficult to find in certain areas and at certain times of the year. Regardless, 4 1/2 stars for usefullness.
In summary, My New Orleans is a journey to the heart of New Orleans cooking, and a statement for using fresh, local ingredients. Home cooks and chefs alike will enjoy Besh's delicious recipes. Highly recommended.