Acclaimed chef Liebrandt and Friedman (Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Bocuse d'Or, the World's Most Prestigious Cooking Competition, 2009) collaborate in a “literary tasting menu,” chronicling the chef’s bumpy yet supersonic rise in the culinary world and the prestigious chefs who influenced his career.
Packed with a bounty of dazzling recipes and photos and told chronologically, Liebrandt’s story begins in London. At the age of 13, the author began washing dishes in a new restaurant, prophetically called New York, New York. By the age of 24, Liebrandt had become the youngest chef to receive a three-star review from the New York Times, for his work at Atlas in Greenwich Village. The author recounts his stints with the famous chefs he apprenticed under while sharpening his skills, always pondering his next move. “It was no small thing to have worked for Marco Pierre White, Richard Neat, Raymond Blanc, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten all by the age of twenty-two,” he writes. “The Big Question in my life was as enticing as it was daunting: What next?” By 1999, Liebrandt’s desire to continue his innovative style and his outspoken personality propelled him to New York, where he finally moved to the next level. “I was only twenty-four. Relatively young to be handed the keys to the kitchen of a place like Atlas. But something told me I could handle it,” he writes. The author’s recipes reflect his idiosyncratic approach to “The Food,” which serves as “the object of an existential quest, to be pursued at the expense of just about everything else,” and they are not for the timid. Adventurous cooks can indulge their tastes and test their culinary skills with Duck Leg Torte, Beer Brined Pork Shoulder, Beet Hibiscus-Glazed Foie Gras or White Truffle Gnudi with Abalone Butter, among other decadent dishes.
For those addicted to following the rise, fall and eventual resurrection of celebrity chefs, Liebrandt’s story will be an essential ingredient on their reading menu.