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Altman, a San Francisco chef and host of Bay Café, a popular local TV cooking show, enthusiastically encourages people to cook California cuisine in their own homes. He introduces an array of global flavors that aim to highlight the best ingredients, particularly citrus and spices, putting a spark into recipes like Island Gazpacho, which features mango, papaya, chiles and horseradish, and Oven-Roasted Beet and Orange Salad. Intriguing combinations like tamarind, pecan and cherries with chicken, or maple, apple and mango with pork augment the dishes' central elements without overwhelming them. Like any good California chef, he gives suggestions for what to drink with main-dish recipes, and he also provides helpful tips throughout about preparation, presentation and ingredients. Altman includes a few simple classics like pasta carbonara, but despite his goal of making chef-style innovation accessible at home, most of the recipes involve numerous steps and techniques that are more suited to cooks with some experience than to absolute beginners. Altman's gusto is infectious for any reasonably confident cook with a love of putting great ingredients to use in unexpected ways. This is an excellent springboard for experimentation. Color photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.