Saturday, June 14, 2008

As Seen on TV: Top Chef: The Cookbook

Food porn enthusiasts will be interested in taking a peek at Top Chef: The Cookbook (Chronicle Books), a book that ends up being a lot more interesting in concept than it is in actuality.

Top Chef: The Cookbook is a strange combination of things. There are stills from the television series and a floor plan of the official Top Chef kitchen. We get to see their pantry, read about their staples, see the judge’s table which is followed -- naturally enough -- by detailed bios of the judges and others involved with the show, including contestants.

Then the food portion of the book, which is designed and styled more like an 80s cookbook aimed at the amateur chef than anything else.

Some of the food looks terrific and those who followed the show closely will almost certainly be pleased to find recipes for some of the things they saw on television. However, along with the interesting recipes, there are a few for things that should just never go together. Tempura Vegetables and Mozzarella with Cornichon Mayonnaise, for example. (Isn’t there a law against that?) Or things too fiddly and silly to contemplate: like Poached Baby Manilla Clams over Grilled Sea Beans. Life is just too short.

The fact that the book is based entirely on a television show would seem to me to limit the book’s appeal. After all, how many people actually watched the show? Facts prove me wrong, though: Top Chef: The Cookbook has been hitting the bestseller lists pretty much since it was published in mid-March.



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