Magic in the Kitchen: The American Chef - Whimsical Portraits - Outstanding Recipes

Magic in the Kitchen: The American Chef - Whimsical Portraits - Outstanding Recipes

by Jan Bartelsman, Bartelsman

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Taking inspiration from the surrealists, and adding a twist of twenty-first-century technology and a love of good food, photographer Jan Bartelsman turns his lenses on the United States' star chefs, traveling from coast to coast to photograph, interview, and collect recipes from such culinary luminaries as Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, and Daniel


Taking inspiration from the surrealists, and adding a twist of twenty-first-century technology and a love of good food, photographer Jan Bartelsman turns his lenses on the United States' star chefs, traveling from coast to coast to photograph, interview, and collect recipes from such culinary luminaries as Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, and Daniel Boulud.

Bartelsman captures each chef's unique personality in hand-tinted photomontages enhanced by fanciful digitally generated elements to create a gallery that Food Arts magazine calls "fresh and spontaneous." Baby carrots rain down on Jean-Georges Vongerichten as he stands against the Manhattan skyline. Dancer-graceful Suzanne Goin strikes a pose with a Martha Graham-inspired carrot.

The chefs' recipes and comments are as lively as their portraits. Ming Tsai spices lobster with garlic and pepper, and serves it with lemongrass fried rice; Lydia Shire's gorgonzola dolce ravioli are paired with roasted summer peaches. This book is truly a delectable dish, the complexity and taste of which readers can savor for years to come.

Editorial Reviews
Jan Bartelsman captures world-class chefs in hand-tinted photomontages, interviews, and, yes, recipes. The chefs include Julia Child, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Suzanne Goin.
Publishers Weekly
Magic in the Kitchen by Jan Bartelsman, offers a cheerier look at creative spirits 40 top American chefs, including Tom Colicchio and Nobu Matsuhisa. Bartelsman provides whimsical photographs (Joachim Splichal sports a potato peel hat; Lydia Shire floats on a flying carpet), while the chefs offer spunky autobiographies (Daniel Boulud's begins, "I am not a butter freak") and signature recipes. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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10.28(w) x 11.36(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


From a young age onward, I have been driven to eat good food. Not because my grandmother was a great cook and took me out looking for berries, nuts, and mushrooms in the woods, as is the case with some of the great chefs in this book, but because my mother was a lousy cook. I used to hang around outside the few restaurants near my house, just to catch the smell of good food being prepared and make plans for the day that I would actually go inside and taste it. Then, when I was nine, my attentions shifted from food to photography-my great-aunt Jopie had given me a camera and a developing set to process film. I was hooked, but I didn't abandon my first love altogether. When I got older, my two passions merged. Not only did I achieve my goal of eating in great restaurants, I got to meet and photograph the best food artists in the world.

The chefs in this book all make sensational food and are artists of the highest caliber. Never in my life have I experienced such wonderful meals and great wines. I floated rather than walked out of their restaurants, a sort of delirious grin on my face. All I could actually say was, "Wow." I have had occasion to eat very well in Europe, but this was different. I was especially surprised by the chefs' daring mix of ingredients-I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of looking at a menu and wondering how some weird combination (as it would surely be regarded from a traditional European perspective) could be good, only to find out later that it could be great. Bob Kinkead's Walnut-and-Horseradish-Crusted Rockfish with Sherry-Beet Sauce is a perfect example of this. Discussing this issue with some of the European chefs in the book who have been working in the United States for many years, I came to appreciate the fact that the brilliant new combinations I had enjoyed can be attributed in part to the artistic freedom that chefs get from their American audience, which is less rooted in strict culinary tradition.

Cees and I had so much fun working with these chefs that sometimes we could hardly stop laughing during a shoot. And it was interesting to explore the many connections between the worlds of cuisine and photography. The art of food preparation is actually comparable to the creation of our photomontage portraits. Being inspired by ingredients, combining and preparing them in such a way as to end up with something more than the sum of these ingredients, with something sublime on the plate, is what these chefs are so great at doing. The main ingredients of our portraits are the chefs themselves, our inspiration coming from their restaurants, food, and ideas. Although we wouldn't dare compare our results with those of these chefs, we also try to combine our photographic elements into a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. I would like to thank the chefs for their generous participation and for making this culinary and photographic tour of the United States one of the most enjoyable projects we've ever worked on.

Jan Bartelsman

Thomas Keller - French Laundry Yountville

For me, it's the satisfaction of cooking every day: tournTing a carrot, or cutting salmon, or portioning foie gras-the mechanical jobs I do daily, year after year. That's what cooking is all about. This is the great challenge: to maintain passion for the everyday routine and the endlessly repeated act, to derive deep gratification from the mundane.

When you take the braising pan out of the oven to see the rich color of the liquid and the slow thick bubble of the deepening sauce, the beautiful clear layer of fat on top, when you really see it, smell it, you've connected yourself to generations and generations of people who have done the same thing for hundreds of years in exactly the same way. My mentor, Roland Henin, told me something long ago that changed the way I thought about cooking: "If you're a really good cook," he said, "you can go back in time."


A saddle of lamb is boned and cut in half, so that each half includes a sirloin and a tenderloin. Working with one half, the tenderloin is removed and set aside. The layer of fat that covers the saddle is trimmed from the meat in one sheet and left connected on one long side of the sirloin; it is a flap that can be opened out from the sirloin like the cover of a book. The sirloin itself is left covered with a thin layer of fat as well. The sirloin and the tenderloin are seasoned with salt and pepper, and the tenderloin is pressed back against the loin. The flap of fat is folded over the meat so that the meat is formed into a roulade, covered with a thin layer of fat. The roulade is tied at ½-inch intervals with kitchen twine, seasoned, and browned on top of the stove.

A quick lamb jus is made by browning the bones from the saddle, moistening with chicken stock, and simmering with a caramelized mirepoix of carrot, onion, and leek, along with fresh thyme, tomato, and garlic. The jus is bolstered with veal stock, then the whole thing is strained and reduced.

The lamb roulade is cut into medallions that are seasoned and sautTed until medium-rare. The lamb medallion is served in a pool of sauce, seasoned with fresh fines herbes. The plate is garnished with braised slices of Yukon Gold potatoes and glazed brussel sprouts, fava beans, pearl onions, Tokyo turnips, and carrots, also seasoned with fresh fines herbes.

Thomas Keller

Favorite cooking tool: My palette knife. It's a long, thin, extremely flexible knife-almost like a spatula. I use it for everything from icing cakes to turning and picking up food.

Favorite ingredient: Food and anything to do with food!

Most useful cooking trick: Have a great staff

Most inspirational moment: Shortly before I moved from New York to Los Angeles, some friends took me to Baskin-Robbins. I ordered an ice-cream cone. The guy put it in a little holder-you take it from a holder-and said, "Here's your cone." The minute he said it, I thought, "There it is," and invented our cornet: I took our standard tuiles, made cones with them, and filled them with tuna tartare. You can fill them with anything. Everyone who eats at our restaurant begins the meal with this cornet. People always smile when they get it.

Best snack: Chocolate chip cookies

Mentor: Roland Henin

Most-used cookbook: Ferdinand Point's Ma gastronomie

Career if not a chef: Shortstop for the New York Yankees-I want the opportunity to play in their stadium!

Activity on day off: Sleep

Born in Southern California, Thomas Keller is a veteran of many of the great restaurant kitchens of the world. He first gained recognition at La Reserve and Restaurant Raphadl in New York, where he earned national exposure. To further his expertise, he moved abroad and served a stage throughout France in the kitchens of Guy Savoy, Michael Pasquet, Gerard Besson, Taillevant, Toit de Passy, Chiberta, and Le PrT Catalan. After Keller returned to New York he opened Rakel, where he received front-page coverage on New York magazine's "Ask Gael" issue. Four years later, Keller moved to California and joined the Ayala Hotel Group as executive chef at Checkers in Los Angeles. He purchased the French Laundry in 1994, with the goal of creating a three-star country French restaurant in the heart of Napa Valley. He has won numerous accolades, including Outstanding Chef: America, in 1997 from the James Beard Foundation. In addition, Keller is the founder and owner of EVO, Inc., a nationally distributed retail line of premium California olive oils and vinegar. He is author of The French Laundry Cookbook.


Leeks are braised in butter with a little chicken stock. At the same time, carrots, radishes, yellow beets, and turnips are roasted whole, then peeled and cut into pieces. All of the vegetables are dipped into cold chicken stock, then layered in a plastic wrap-lined terrine mold. A small board, about the size of the opening of the terrine, is pressed down onto the vegetables to pack them together. (The gelatin in the chicken stock will "glue" the vegetables together.) The terrine is refrigerated for several hours until thoroughly chilled. Then it is turned out of the mold and-still wrapped in plastic wrap-cut into slices. (The plastic keeps the terrine from falling apart.) The plastic is removed and the slices are placed on serving plates.

Each plate is garnished with a small flan of fromage blanc bound with a little gelatin and stuffed with hot-and-sour chanterelle mushrooms. SautTed chanterelles are strewn around the plate. Two purees-one made from arugula and one from chanterelle mushrooms-serve as sauces. The plate is drizzled with both an arugula and an herb oil (infused with parsley, spinach, and basil). Finally, the plate is garnished with micro-parsley, a parsley that is grown for its tiny leaves.

Meet the Author

Dutch photographer Jan Bartelsman has published two books of photomontage portraits in Europe, one with chefs from Belgium and one with German chefs, through his company, Fotostudio Jan Bartelsman. His other publications include books of photography on café life, a cookbook for children, and a guide to Berlin.

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