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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
How does a great chef turn an idea into a recipe? The New York Times has explored this creative process with many chefs in a weekly column since 1997. This collection from that column features 250 recipes, as well as reflections by the chefs on the dishes' origins, and it's great fun to read.
In the personal essays that precede each recipe, the chefs take you behind the scenes from the moment of inspiration (a childhood memory, a classic that needed a tweak, an ingredient that needed a boost) to the many moments of revision en route to the signature dish. We get the "aha" moments (the ice cream cone that inspired Thomas Keller to serve salmon tartare in little cornets) as well as the "oops" moments (the wonderful mistake that resulted in Jean-Georges Vongerichten's most popular dessert, a warm, molten chocolate cake).
Most of the chefs are New York-based -- like Daniel Boulud of Daniel, Wylie Dufresne of 71 Clinton Fresh Food, Rick Moonen of Oceana, and Diane Forley of Verbena -- but there are notable exceptions like Thomas Keller of The French Laundry in California's Napa Valley, Michel Richard of D.C.'s Citronelle, and Chicago's Charlie Trotter.
All the chefs were instructed to revise a signature dish, if necessary, so it could work in the home kitchen. There are fancy dishes and simple ones, from appetizers to desserts, but all look incredibly tasty. I am especially happy to have the recipe for the Spiced-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Amy's Bread. This is possibly the world's best grilled cheese sandwich, and it's available at Amy's Bread in the Chelsea Market, right across the street from Barnes & Noble.com -- and, now, in my home. (Please call ahead.) (Ginger Curwen)