Because I’m a professional chef, I don’t become giddy around “celebrity” chefs. I’m much more interested in determing if the “celebrity” chef applies good techniques and has an even better understanding of flavor. I can’t say that a lot of “celebrity” chefs do these days and of course, if you’re considered to be even slightly attractive nobody cares about your techniques or flavors.
However, I raced out to meet Tyler Florence at a local book signing because he really does apply good techniques and his sense of flavor is evolving into interesting combinations reflected in his menu at Wayfare Tavern, his first San Francisco restaurant. The Bay Area is a tough turf to work in. We’re incredibly food saavy, very critical and there’s so much competition, you need titanium nerves and usually deep pockets to make it here. So, I thought it would be interesting to buy his book and check out his recipes.
You can see from my picture, I’m thrilled to be sitting next to Tyler. You get exactly one minute to chat, take the picture, and have him sign your book. My strategy was to get there early because after the onehundredth book signing, I’m sure he’s ready to go and could care less about chatting. I was number 20 in line. So, I was mid-word when the photo was snapped as I rattled off my name, career, culinary point of view and gave him my card, all in one minute. Oh and as a bonus, I told him that I grew up in Mill Valley and that I’d love to cook with him. I’m still waiting for his call but I did try one of his recipes and it worked fairly well.
Now, I’ve known chefs who’ve had books published and it’s a daunting endeavor. The end product is often not fully in your control. I chose Creamed Spinach from Tyler’s Family Meal cookbook. After reading the recipe, I knew that I had to modify a technique because the recipe required you to cook the spinach until dry in a large pot. I used a large sauté pan because I know that a pan with high sides is going to evaporate liquid much slower than a sauté pan which has low sides. I suspect because of the large volume of spinach required, the editor decided a pot rather than sauté pan would be available in the average home. Nonetheless, even in a massive sauté pan over medium high heat it was difficult to cook the spinach dry. I drained the spinach and added less cream because I wanted to reduce the fat. The recipe was still delicious and I’ll try a few more from the book. Overall, Tyler Florence’s Family Meal cookbook is an easy to follow, well planned cookbook that you can use every day.