If one were going to cast about for the perfect author of a book about essential French cookery, Michel Roux is one of a handful of chefs whose name would come to mind. He is one of the acknowledged masters of French cuisine. He is the achiever of multiple Michelin stars (via his well known restaurant, The Waterside Inn at Bray.) He founded London’s fabulous Le Gavroche in 1967 and his books have sold in excess of two million copies.
In The Essence of French Cooking (Quadrille), the master does not disappoint. Working with around 100 classic recipes, Roux modernizes and adapts without ever compromising the classic nature of the dish under study. But don’t think that means it is French-lite. Rather, it is the putting to paper the modifications Roux has incorporated into these recipes over a lifetime of cooking them:
This project represents a considerable portion of my life’s work, and I am setting it down on paper as I have lived it daily in the kitchen …. I have deliberately mixed the grand and humble; they all share their roots in our heritage and in authentic French cuisine.
The resulting book is nothing short of spectacular. Beautifully photographed, produced and shared, this is an instant classic. Home chefs won’t want to part with it. ◊