This coolly seductive cookbook and piece de resistance pictures food as exquisite minimalist morsels. Chef/owner of Michael's restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., the French-trained McCarty (he earned a diploma from the Cordon Bleu and certificates from L'Ecole Hotelier and L'Academie du Vin in Paris) is known not only for his 1979 inauguration of ``California cuisine,'' but also for his use of modern art at table. ``French cuisine and techniques and American ingredients and traditions may be my starting points,'' concedes the cook, and his recipes here--from simple shoestring potatoes to ``Michael's raw oyster presentation'' and grilled saddle of veal with white truffles--are proof of the pudding. Yet decor in the dining room--and on the page--also provides food for thought. Scattering miniature Stellas, Frankenthalers and Hockneys throughout the volume, and employing bird's-eye-view photos of pastas and cream-based soups as virtual design ornaments, McCarty and Kolpas lay out sophisticated fare with restraint, yet aplomb. (Nov.)
Two talented young chefs share their cooking philosophies and their recipes. McCarty, one of the chefs attributed with popularizing ``California cuisine,'' aims for elegant simplicity; his is party food, with ingredients like truffles, foie gras, lobster, and caviar (not to mention baby vegetables). The text is illustrated by some 100 color photographs of the food and of the artwork in Michael's Restaurant. His food may be delicious, but it is hardly for the everyday cook. White, an enthusiastic proponent of New England's culinary heritage and bounty, has written a far more ambitious, more substantial work. In addition to 300 recipes for both such traditional fare as New England Fish Chowder and new dishes like his Salad of Lobster, Foie Gras, and Papaya, he includes pages of information on ingredients and preparation, diagrams of techniques, and detailed head notes. The sections on fish and shellfish, for example, provide a complete guide to the New England catch. In short, his book will inspire and inform cooks at all levels.