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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Where do top chefs eat when they're not at work? Where did Boston chef Gordon Hamersley have "the best meal in America"? Which hot dog joint in New York does chef Mario Batali prefer for that "caviar crunch"? Who has the best chocolate in Seattle? Which Milwaukee restaurant is well worth the drive from Chicago?
Give this book four stars! Its subtitle may be long, but it delivers. The authors serve up a guest list that looks like a who's who in American cooking -- Mario Batali, Daniel Bouloud, Todd English, Bobby Flay, George Germon and Johanne Killeen, Caprial Pence, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jacques Torres, and many more -- and pin them down on where they go to eat on their nights off. If that sounds intimidating, it's not. Four-star chefs may not be looking for fancy food on Sunday night, but they always want quality.
Anyone hooked at all on cooking shows from public television or the Food Network will be able to spend hours with this book. In fact, you'll want to pull out a road atlas, since the chefs dish on the best eating places in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, Savannah, San Francisco and the Napa Valley, Seattle, Tucson, Williamsburg, and Washington, as well as many other spots across the country. Soon, you'll be planning some culinary road trips. (I've got that VFW Hall in Cranston, Rhode Island, earmarked for lunch on my next drive to see family in Boston.)
The book's patchwork, magazine-style format in two colors is enticing. You can get lost in the sidebars on the best bagels in New York, for example, the best cheese steaks in Philadelphia, or the longstanding best-burger debate in Los Angeles between Apple Pan and Jay's Jayburgers (who knew?). The book is further enlivened by wonderful little essays: Rick Bayless on the best meal of his life; Barbara Tropp on how to order and eat in a Chinese restaurant; Norman van Aken on cooking in Miami; and a ten-step instruction for educating your palate, and becoming a better chef in the process.
Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page are very much at home with chefs. Their first book, Becoming a Chef, won the 1996 James Beard Book Award for Best Writing on Food. They followed it up with Culinary Artistry and Dining Out, both equally well reviewed. (Ginger Curwen)