Downtown Los Angeles restaurateur and chef Centeno shares dishes inspired by his five Historic Core neighborhood restaurants: Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, and P.Y.T. The 130 bold, nontraditional recipes here, based on Centeno's Texas upbringing, are organized by flavors and textures. One chapter on flavors ("Spicy/Salty/Pickled/Preserved") features 45 condiments ("windows into cooks' souls"), such as minty pickled red onions with dried rosebuds, dressings of sunflower-miso tahini or limey-fish-sauce vinaigrette, and fresh cheese and yogurt. In another chapter ("Earthy/Sharp/Velvety/Savory"), sweet potatoes are mixed with aonori mascarpone butter, feta, and honey; another recipe is for an Italian-Armenian hybrid of pork belly with sujuk spices over hand-torn pasta. "Flaky/Fruity/Caramely/Tart" showcases desserts such as Middle Eastern-inspired pistachio cheesecake topped with matcha sugar and flakey threads of kataifi pastry. The recipe for Centeno's signature bäco (a taco flatbread) is included, and vegetables take center stage in many recipes. Essays reflect Centeno's personal philosophy, from which this vibrant cuisine emerged, and jumbo-size photos show Centeno's kaleidoscopic culinary techniques. Centeno's exciting debut cookbook offers an impressive portrait of a chef who believes "taste is tantamount" and that options are unlimited. (Sept.)
"When I arrived in Los Angeles 15 years ago, it was clear that Josef 's cooking was leading the charge in terms of inventiveness, technique, and sense of adventure. Unbeknownst to him, he became a mentor to me, and ushered in the next generation of chefs that have redefined L.A.'s food culture. I can't wait to cook my way through this retrospective of his work." - Travis Lett, Gjelina, Gjusta, GTA
"Josef 's ability to weave a swath of traditions into forceful and deeply satisfying dishes has made him a pioneer in the resurgence of L.A. dining. Detailed and lyrical-a little Turkish and a tad Tejano-Bäco is the perfect manual for just how he does it." - Patric Kuh, food critic, Los Angeles Magazine
"I can't stop reading Bäco! I had the good fortune to work for and be inspired by Josef many years ago. Now I'm inspired again by this collection of recipes that demonstrates exactly why he is one of the most influential chefs of the New Los Angeles Cuisine."- Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon
Josef Centeno, chef-owner of five acclaimed restaurants in downtown Los Angeles, comes from mixed heritageMexican, Spanish, Irish, French, English, German and Polish. Drawing upon these influencesand othersCenteno's vibrant culinary creations form unusual pairings that layer flavor. Taste is supreme. He and food writer Betty Hallock present an enticing, chicly photographed cookbook that offers 130 bold recipes that pay homage to ingredients, traditions and imagination. Themes on flavor are reflected via nine sections aptly titled with adjectives such as "spicy, salty, pickled, preserved"; "buttery, crisp, tangy, herbal"; and "flaky, fruity, caramely, tart." Vegetables and vinaigrettes shine, as do spices and herbs. Refined palates will savor recipes for kohlrabi with crème fraîche, mint, lemon and yuzo kosho; Centeno's signature Bäco Flatbread, a "gyro-taco-pizza hybrid"; and pistachio cheesecake custards topped with matcha sugar and kataifi pastry. Kathleen Gerard http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz9212652Biz35132901, blogger at Reading Between the Lines http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz9212652Biz35132902 Discover: Eclectic, multicultural-inspired recipes from a groundbreaking Los Angeles chef and restaurant owner.
Chef Centeno and food writer Hallock present 130 recipes inspired by Centeno's five restaurants in downtown Los Angeles. The book begins with homemade pickles, sauces, cheeses, and other staples, followed by larger dishes, beverages, and desserts. Richly spiced recipes include such choices as crudites with walnut-miso bagna cauda, chicken escabeche with mint, eggplant puree with sumac and garlic, and strawberry-elderflower fool. They're grouped by flavor and texture (e.g., creamy, nutty, crunchy, floral; tender, juicy, peppery, rich), but it's not difficult to locate specific courses or categories. VERDICT Asian, Middle-Eastern, and Latin American influences meld harmoniously in this polished chef cookbook, which invites home cooks to dig deep into the global pantry.