I admit it: I’m an addict. To food shows. Cruising the television food channels, looking for the next new show in the dead of night, that’s me. Luckily, I don’t have to reach for the remote as often with authors like Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy. Reading their recent release Come In, We’re Closed is akin to watching a behind-the-scenes cooking special.
Part cookbook, part food writing experience, this beautiful book explores the concept of “staff meal”: when the cooks, servers and other restaurant employees eat menu ingredient leftovers to refuel. Far from rooting through fridges and microwaving Tupperware, each of the 25 restaurants to open their doors to Carroll and Eddy serves a communal employee meal which transforms simple leftovers into elegant and hearty dishes. Staff interviews and discussions with chefs provide insight into each restaurant and are supplemented by gorgeous pictures of meals, of staff, and of the restaurants. Some discussions involve trips down memory lane, others look to the future. Each chef offers advice to home cooks, in addition to the recipes provided.
Be forewarned: these are complex recipes involving interesting ingredients; they are not meant for the faint of heart. The fried chicken feet alone requires simmering for 3 hours at least one day in advance. But Carroll and Eddy have personally tested and painstakingly adapted each recipe for our use. If ingredients or techniques are scarce or difficult to perform, the authors offer easier techniques and substitutions. But in fact, the end result is worth the hassle.
Want more behind-the-scenes books? Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain offers a grittier view of the culinary underbelly, and is available as an audiobook and e-book. If you'd rather enjoy more recipes chefs love, check out Food Network Favorites: Recipes from Our All-Star Chefs for recipes from your favorite celebrity chefs. And eat well!