Thanksgiving leftovers, courtesy of David Chang

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A holiday that is centered around food. And this is the reason why I feel that Thanksgiving is pretty awesome. It’s the start of the holiday season, you’re around friends and family, and you can stuff yourself silly with food; all together it’s a winning combination. But amongst the volume of eating you’ll find yourself with a mountain of leftovers. Unless you can go through a 14 lb turkey, several side dishes, and pumpkin pie, chances are you’ll need to find something to do with them. Have no fear, David Chang has ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers. And they sound amazing.

David Chang is the brightest culinary star of the moment. An opinionated and supremely talented chef who has been a game changer in the restaurant world. His Momofuku restaurants are considered some of the best in New York and his style of food is utterly unique and blow-your-mind delicious. Recently, he and Peter Meehan released an amazing cookbook, Momofuku, that tells the story of Chef Chang and his restaurants. Needless to say, David Chang knows how to make enticingly tasty food.

Last year, I wrote a couple of short posts about Thanksgiving; one was about what wine to have with the dinner, the other was what to do with the leftovers. Chef Chang has taken what to do with those leftovers to another level. In a recent article in Food & Wine magazine, Peter Meehan did a short feature on what David Chang would do with Thanksgiving leftovers. And the results sound amazing. For example:

What’s really cool about some of these recipes is that they aren’t too ‘chefy,’ – recipes that are crazy complicated with obscure ingredients and technique most home cooks don’t have. Most of these recipes are straightforward and use the leftovers that stick around from Thanksgiving. I’m already looking forward to trying some of them.

Enjoy this Thanksgiving! Take in the moment, exhale, eat up, and most of all have fun!

Photo courtesy of Food & Wine

Cool food book: Phaidon’s Coco

In the world of cooking, I’m always amazed at the ability of the chef. The culinary artists that can take ingredients, technique, and personal style to create something amazing and delicious. Their ability to elevate the food they work with is a big reason why I love food so much. We live in a chef culture where television networks create stars out of these folks; they become a part of pop culture, not just food culture. In some cases this is a good thing. Food fans will travel far and wide to experience their cooking. They’ll devour their food and their cookbooks. All of this I think is very cool. That is why I am completely taken with this food book; Coco. If you love food and chef culture, you will too.

The premise of the book is this; take 10 of the world’s true ‘masters’ in food, and have them pick 100 chefs that are emerging chefs worldwide. Coco: 10 World-Leading Maters choose 100 Contemporary Chefs comes to us from the folks at Phaidon. You may know them from their cookbooks like Silver Spoon, Pork & Sons, or 1080 Recipes, but their entire product line is excellent. I first discovered Coco on a recent trip to New York and stumbled upon Phaidon’s store in SoHo. This day happened to be their grand opening and much impulse shopping commenced. Coco was there and when I leafed through it, I instantly fell in love with the premise.

Here is a rundown of the 10 masters featured in the book:

  • Ferran Adria
  • Mario Batali
  • Shannon Bennett
  • Alain Ducasse
  • Fergus Henderson
  • Yoshihiro Murata
  • Gordon Ramsey
  • RenĂ© Redzepi
  • Alice Waters
  • Jacky Yu

The format of Coco is to spend some time with each of the 100 selected chefs. There is a brief bio, some recipes, and one of the masters will espouse on their choice. What’s interesting is to find the theme that binds the choices of the masters. I love learning about food and the people that make it, so I enjoyed the write-ups. For instance, you could delve into what Mario Batali values; a sense of niches, an appreciation of history, and high standards.

What I like about Coco is that you can pick it up to leaf through a few pages at your leisure. It’s a weighty book that clocks in at over 400 pages (!), but flip through it, open it up randomly and read about a chef you’ve never heard of before. It also has the ability to be a good resource; traveling to the Bay Area? There are about five chefs doing their thing there. New Orleans? Always a great eating city and they have two representatives. Locally, Seattle is proudly represented by Kevin Davis and his Steelhead Diner. I’m a fan of the place and so is Chef Batali. You’ll find all sorts of interesting chefs and restaurants around the world, so when globetrotting strikes your palate will be ready.

One of the interesting tweaks about food lovers is that we acquire and accrue cookbooks voraciously. Chances are we never ‘read’ the entire thing. Most of the time they are used to impress our fellow food friends. But they always serve to inspire us. They give us ideas. Point us in a direction we may not have considered. And Coco is all of these things.

On food magazines…

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A thought that has been bouncing around my head has been on the subject of food magazines. I admit that I love the idea of them. Some are excellent. Some have ‘opportunities’. But after going through one recently, I reminded myself that there isn’t a perfect food magazine.

I’ll admit there are plenty out there that are very good. Food & Wine leaps to mind. Saveur is also excellent. Cook’s Illustrated is outstanding for information. And with the demise of Gourmet, our world of food writing becomes a bit darker. But none of these magazines are perfect.

One of my favorites, though, was Chow. But to my disappointment, the magazine stopped printing and moved to a web presence exclusively. Chow was the closest to my views and perspectives on the world of food. RIP Chow. Ultimately, I’m a sucker for food mags and grab them at the ready on impulse. And given the number of magazines in the market, it seems that publishers think that there is a niche worth filling too.

Why is it that there isn’t one that completely gets it? (Although to be fair, there isn’t really a perfect magazine for any industry, I just wish there was one for food). Some magazines hit it too heavy with recipes that aren’t realistic or empowering. Some have very poor levels of editing and photography (I really want to out the one mag that inspired this post, but I’m taking the high road, but trust me, they sucked). Others just don’t really get it. The world of food and wine is deep and organic. It moves naturally with a skittish flow. Trends come and go. The ultimate point for any great magazine is to tell a story that can inspire. A lot of today’s current magazines aim for this but don’t always hit the bullseye.

What my expectations are for the perfect food magazine is this; great writing, interesting recipes, innovative ideas, a good mix of irreverence, and all of it wrapped into one beautifully designed package that screams to be read. I don’t think this is too much to ask.

I suppose that in today’s gloomy print publishing world, the thought of a perfect food magazine is fleeting. I may be alone as this recent article by the LA Times Russ Parsons points out; magazines are becoming more niche and focused in their goals. Which is fine, but within those defined goals, I still want the right mix that speaks to me. In the end, I have hopes for that ideal mag and will continue to read and dip my toe into what the newsstand has in store for me.