Richard's culinary star began to rise with the debut of his restaurant, Citrus, in Los Angeles in 1987. Now, five restaurants later, and working in collaboration with Zeidler ( The Gourmet Jewish Cook ) and journalist Weimer, he brings his love of food to the page. Richard may be classically trained, but he firmly believes in experimenting with taste and texture to develop something new: he borrows often from diverse cultures and cuisines to create the unexpected (e.g., cream cheese gnocchi with corn spinach). Some of these recipes hearken back to his northern French roots while others are California-influenced. But no matter what the inspiration, Richard has done a superb job of adapting restaurant recipes for the average kitchen. He makes it clear, nonetheless, that a recipe is just a guide, not a guarantee. Turning out a delectable meal is the responsibility of the cook. And there are no substitutes for good preparation or for an innate feel for food. Each recipe includes a brief introduction and excellent preparation and do-ahead suggestions. Some recipes sound deceptively simple, because they call for only a few ingredients, but to achieve the result Richard wants requires serious labor--and skill. (Mushroom tarts with garlic cream call for boiling and rinsing garlic three times.) His enthusiasm is so infectious, however, and his recipes are so well-written, that even the inexperienced may gear up to try chicken kataifi with purple sauce--it's too intriguing not to. Photos not seen by PW . (Sept.)
Outstanding for its recitation as well as for its more than 200 recipes, Richard's first culinary collection should truly be subtitled "The Love of Cooking." Joy in food and its preparation begins on page 1, when he and his coauthors talk about the kitchen's rules. "It's a religion and I'm a priest of food," he says. That feeling imbues every concoction presented; for each one, there are plan-ahead notes, technique tips, suggested wine, and an introduction that flavors the specific dish further by way of a personal story or historical explanation. Creativity erupts, from soups to desserts, including smoked salmon soup, chayote with mustard mayonnaise, chicken and guacamole rings, moussaka with scallops and goat cheese, quiche in a potato, and apple rum risotto. A dollop of France, a pinch of California, a dab of the Far East--it's difficult to characterize Richard's contribution to cuisine except to say it's simple (with only a few lengthy recipes) and fresh.