Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Michael Symon’s Live to Cook

This book was acquired with a GC that I got for Christmas. I first became familiar with Michael Symon when I watched him defeat John Besh for the title of Iron Chef on The Next Iron Chef Season 1. His infectious laugh made me think his food might not be so serious and yet it was all I could do to keep from running to the kitchen to duplicate his efforts.

Next, while reading Michael Ruhlman’s book Soul of a Chef, I really enjoyed his insight into Symon’s restaurant Lola. He portrayed a hard working, mid-western chef with high standards that understands the balance between eating local and seasonal and producing dishes that appeal to his audience in Cleveland, Ohio. The message was that he cooks from his soul.

Symon’s book takes up where Ruhlman’s story of Lola leaves off, he brings you into his life and points out the influences that brought him to where he is, at the point of writing this book.

His narratives entertain and educate at the same time and then there’s the recipes and the bonus of the Symon Says tidbits.

While he believes a dish should be started and finished in one pan he refers to his style as “heritage” cooking. Based on the foods of his family, he has been influenced by Greek-Italian-Eastern European and American recipes.

He writes pages on Fresh Sausages, Vinaigrettes, Confit, Braising, Roasting & Grilling, etc. giving his take on technique. And, he gives us pages on Humility, The Power of Cookbooks and Family explaining his connection to the world.

This book is a cover to cover read; more cookbooks are going in this “novel” direction these days. Michael mixes it up with personal revelations, descriptive techniques and specific tried and true recipes.

It is written with Michael Ruhlman and you definitely feel his guidance and style in the narrative…never a bad thing!

I highly recommend this book and of course have many dog eared pages for recipes I’ll be trying out!


SallyBR said...

Agree with you... I've had this book for a few months, and loved reading it. So far, I cooked two or three recipes only from it, they turned out great.

A very nice cookbook ideed!

Chef Jim said...

Thanx, Sally,

Haven't cooked anything yet, but his influence on my cooking has certainly taken affect! Enjoy the concept of one pan process!