The Chefs of the Times is voluminous confabulation of talent from the indisputable premier chefs of our day. Rarely will this cook be so overwhelmed with so much culinary firepower that I must handle this particular book with care and concern. I mean, the contributors to The New York Times renowned Food section are legendary chefs that brandish their own, vast collections of culinary manuscripts that rate awards and high acclaim, but to have them in one volume of excellent reading is monumental.
I have had the pleasure of dining in some of the contributor’s restaurants. Understatement to say “pleasure”. Nirvana-like, maybe. Pure paradise, probably. So, to have a souvenir of the experience to remember the event is a real prize. Waldy Malouf’s Beacon rates among one of the best dining experiences on the east coast and then some! Mr. Malouf’s classic Potato Gratin, thankfully, made it into The Chefs of the Times. As did his Roasted Peaches and Blueberries. Absolutely phenomenal food. I am afraid to try to recreate his masterful work, knowing that any squalid attempt is pure mockery of this man’s art. Marcus Samuelsson’s Root Vegetable Risotto, too, is ethereal in its execution. At Aquavit in Manhattan, try his risotto Sea Bass, if it is available. Better yet, use The Chefs of the Times as a planner for your next holiday travel. Jean-Georges Crab Spring Rolls are here! So is Daniel Boulud’s Lobster with Sweet Corn Polenta. Pure, unadulterated heaven on a plate. These are just the stops in New York. There happens to be a little Trotter and Patrick O’Connell from Inn at Little Washington sprinkled amongst the pages.
Michalene Busico has done an artful job of selecting the requisite standards from the contributors colored with some of their more extraordinary works. However, given the pool of talent from which The Chefs of the Times is culled, I am certain this was one of those pain-pleasure jobs. Short on pain and long on pleasurable dining.