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When restaurant chefs offer you at-home cookbooks, it's always worthwhile to look closely. There's no doubt that these folks know how to cook. But sometimes there is a temptation to swathe their books in glossy promises of 5-five star meals in 5 minutes that only lead to disappointment.
Gavin Kaysen, known to New Yorkers as a former chef at Cafe Boulud and recognized all over the country for award-winning Minneapolis restaurants, isn't playing that game. His first cookbook is indeed his own home cooking, but instead of extravagant, unfulfillable promises he offers detailed recipes supported by explicit instruction.
At Home is written for serious cooks looking to tackle the likes of skirt steak with chimichurri and oven polenta or lamb loin chops with tzatziki and snap pea salad. Kaysen assumes you're willing to expend some effort and time and he wants to help you make that work pay off.
His seasonally arranged recipe choices include some true Minnesota staples, like Swedish meatballs and his grandmother's chicken and dumplings. But there are plenty of clever dishes which speak to the chef's wide-ranging culinary experience: duck à l'orange with braised red cabbage; a savory tomato Linzer tart that he swears can also be served as a dessert with nothing more than a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
So if you know someone willing to stretch their culinary legs, or you think you're the one who is ready, At Home is a strong contender.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.