The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Alice Waters was the co-founder of the famous and revered Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. Along with chefs such as Jeremiah Tower, Paul Aratow and Paul Bertolli she set the restaurant on its course to greatness.
Alice Waters is not only a great chef, she is also a talented writer. The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook gives us an insight into why Chez Panisse has been such a great restaurant for such a long time.
The book presents 120 menus in 336 pages of text. Rather than seeing this only as a recipe book many would benefit from using it as an opportunity to get inside the mind of a great restaurateur to find out why a particular dish was placed on the menu alongside another. The menus presented to us as Chez Panisse have always had a pleasing coherence. Everything makes sense.
So, in reading this book you can understand why crayfish pizza works well after chicken and corn soup and before roast chicken (our first meal at the restaurant).
Some of the dishes now seem very brave for the time (whole baked garlic with white cheese and peasant bread) and others exemplify simplicity (the hardest thing of all to do, for example fresh herring fillets with salt and lemon).
The menus are wide ranging. There is a menu for each of the seasons, menus reflecting special events (one for truffles, one based around cassoulet), menus based on grilling, menus based around themes and variations and much more.
This deserves its place in the pantheon of greats and will still be relevant in a hundred years.
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