"While we take what we do very seriously, we try not to take ourselves too seriously."
That's a quote from the introduction to the new book Eleven Madison Park, The Cookbook by Daniel Humm, Executive Chef and Will Guidara, General Manager.
I was honored to be one of a handful of San Francisco food bloggers invited to a small meet-up with Daniel and Will a week ago. In talking with them, these words really rang true. They are very down-to-earth, have an enormous amount of passion about food, family and collaboration. Their attitude was warm, friendly and full of humor.
On first glance, the book comes off as a beautiful over-the-top technique-driven cookbook. Upon further inspection though, and validated by our chat with Daniel and Will, there is an undercurrent of educating the home chef. While giving the advice that yes, these are very challenging recipes, you can rest assured that they have been tested and if you persevere, and follow the recipes, you will succeed.
Will asked what we thought of the book. My first impression, which I shared with the group, was that the book could be intimidating. Upon further inspection, the layout of the recipe pages inspired me to think that I could successfully make the recipes. Each of the beautiful photos, shot by Franceso Tonelli, is accompanied by recipes for all components of the dish. By breaking the dish into smaller individual recipes, you could choose to make all of the parts, or some. Will did say that this was their intention and were glad that it came across in the book.
There are several sections in addition to the clear recipes and stunning photos, one section is devoted to what the authors have deemed basics that you will need to build your recipes. Standard items like stock are included here. However, they've gone so far as to include several varieties of butter you might want to have on hand, an assortment of ice cream and some very interesting crumbles. Loved this section.
Two other interesting and very telling sections of the book focus on the running of the restaurant and a list of what each of the many employees' jobs entail. These sections meant even more once I saw how Daniel and Will talk about working together, both front and back of house. The fact that there is a day-in-the-life section that talks about how things get done rounds out the idea of collaboration that these two men have based their restaurant culture on.
Check out reviews by the other SF bloggers who also attended the meet-up:
- Claudie - The Bohemian Kitchen
- Emily - The Bon Appetit Diaries
- Coco - Opera Girl Cooks
- Ben - You Fed A Baby Chili?
- Pallavi - The Easy Indian
Eleven Madison Park, The Cookbook
by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara
Photo courtesy of Little, Brown and Company