Sanford, the restaurant D'Amato opened in 1989 and sold to his longtime chef de cuisine in December 2012, has been one of the highest-rated restaurants in America over the past 20 years, earning accolades from Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Esquire, Wine Spectator, Zagat Guide, and the James Beard Foundation. D'Amato has cooked for the Dalai Lama and the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and was one of 12 chefs chosen by Julia Child herself to cook for her 80th birthday celebration. The story of Sanford and Sandy D'Amato is in part the story of America's embrace of fine dining and its acceptance of chefs as master craftsmen.
Over the past quarter century, America has seen a rise in the prominence of "celebrity chefs," to the extent that it's difficult to remember a time when becoming a chef was considered a backup plan more than a craft. That transformation began in the 1970s, right around when Sanford D'Amato was studying at the fabled Culinary Institute of America. This was a time when American cooks were by and large being frozen out by French chefs who didn't believe the Americans had what it took to create great cuisine. D'Amato, through persistence, skill, and the help of his mentor, Chef Peter Von Erp, became the first American cook at Le Veau d'Or and worked under Chef Roland Chenus through the groundbreaking opening of Le Chantilly. Soon the heyday of classic French cuisine began to waned, as rising chefs like D'Amato began leading the spread "New American" dining.
To D'Amato, though, the Midwest always signified home. His culinary inventiveness was inspired in part by his childhood home, located above his grandparents' grocery store on the lower east side of Milwaukee. It was a small apartment constantly filled with the sights of carefully prepared delicacies, the smells of rich foods on the simmer, and the many tastes of generations-old Italian recipes. Drawing on this influence, as well as his rigorous training in classic French technique, D'Amato eventually opened Sanford in the same space his grandparents' grocery store occupied.
In telling his story, D'Amato studs his narrative with 80 of his favorite recipes. The book features both personal photos from his background and career as well as beautiful images of finished recipes.
Readers of Good Stock will come to believe, as D'Amato does, that to create great food, it doesn't matter if you're preparing a grilled hot dog or pan-roasted monkfish-- what matters is that you treat all dishes with equal love, soul, and respect, and try to elevate each dish to its ultimate level of flavor. Good Stock combines Midwestern charm with international appeal as the perfect book for aspiring chefs, culinary students, and foodies everywhere.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
It was quite a few years before I saw Julia Child again (in person) after Le Veau d’Orabout 15 to be more precise. It was six months into our first year at Sanford, and I was a cofounder of the original American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF) chapter in Milwaukee. We had planned a series of events, and the main part of the festivities, scheduled for September 4 to 7 of 1990, was to accompany Julia around the state to showcase the bounty of Wisconsin. Her first visit to the state was to conclude with the chapter’s inaugural dinner at Sanford on her last night.
After several days of stops around the state, we were humming along on the return flight when Julia’s aide, Gabrielle, called me to the jet’s window.
“Sandywhat is that?” she asked.
I peeked out. “Oh my God! It’s the Wienermobile! This is great! They sent the Wienermobile to pick us up!” I was enraptured, until Gabrielle replied, “I don’t think so.”
A flush of fear crossed my mind. Would this be the second time I missed the Wienermobile?
When I was about five years old working (hanging out) at my dad’s grocery, the Wienermobile used to make unannounced stops at local stores to promote their products. As it pulled up in front of our store, I jumped up on the front radiator to look out the window and saw the door rise. Out strode Little Oscar, all four and a half feet, dressed in his signature floppy-hatted chef outfit. He was headed for our front door when I panicked and ran screaming to the back room of the store. The rest of the neighborhood kids got a tour of the Wienermobile along with complimentary official wiener whistles. I always regretted missing my chance.
It seemed like the sun rose, as Julia leaned toward the window and said, “I think I’d like a ride in that wiener bus.” Julia, where have you been all my life? And so transpired as surreal an experience as I’ve ever had: riding down I-94 in the Wienermobile with Julia Child, as the Oscar Mayer theme song blasted through the interior and exterior speakers. We blew along with our de rigueur wiener whistles, as drivers in passing cars honked and waved.
As we pulled up to our destination, the Pfister Hotel, a large, wiener-curious crowd had already gathered, and as the DeLorean-style flip-up door rose, Julia majestically strode out it was a vision of worlds colliding. The crowds, with their gaping mouths, surely thought this was the largest chef that had ever walked out of the Wienermobile. I think the aura of the Wienermobile even won Gabrielle over.
The most inspirational part of being with Julia for that trip was watching her passively educate everyone around her with the intuitive questions she asked. She had the enthusiasm of a food reporter and recorder, and as soon as she asked a question, I would think, Of course! Why didn’t I ask that? It is the same commonsense brilliance that any great chef has when they produce a dish that is so simple and delicious that everyone chides themselves for not coming up with it. She had an inexhaustible need for knowledge and was always learninga consummate professional.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Radiator 12
Chapter 2 The Grocery Store 40
Chapter 3 Flew the Coop 74
Chapter 4 The CIA 100
Chapter 5 Dutch Treat 126
Chapter 6 Olfactory Emporiums 162
Chapter 7 Mexico City 186
Chapter 8 French Connection 210
Chapter 9 Transition: Long Island 242
Chapter 10 Back to Milwaukee: John Byron's 264
Chapter 11 Sanford: Who's the Boss 294
Chapter 12 My Dinners with Julia 324
Chapter 13 Continuing Education 352
Chapter 14 Table 3 388
Recipe Index 428
About the Author 431