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The Journey, Parts 1 & 2 by Katy Sparks and Maneet Chauhan and Alex Raij and Rita Sodi and Carmen Gonzalez and Sara Jenkins and Sarah Simmons and Rachel Graville

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  • Published Nov 13 2013
  • Format eBook
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Alta Editions

Publishers Text

Part 1

The inspiration for this edition came at the bar of I Sodi, a restaurant well known for its Negronis, a cocktail widely admired for its strong character. The owner and chef, Rita Sodi, is a woman and former fashion executive with no prior restaurant experience who defied the odds by opening a restaurant in New York City at the lowest point in the country’s economy.

The reasons for I Sodi's sustained and bustling popularity are many, but a principal one is that the food is as personal and honest as any you will find in the city. Rita wants you to experience the food you would have eaten if you'd been invited to sit at her family's table in Tuscany. She has achieved this not just by teaching her cooks how to cook her food, but also by teaching them about her culture and, more generally, her way of doing things. As she writes, "Maybe they had to relearn things they already knew, but I was looking for an end result that would be true to my culture. That is the most important thing in my restaurant."

As you will discover by reading this book, chefs Alex Raij, Maneet Chauhan, and Katy Sparks also defied the odds and found great success in a competitive business not known for favoring women. It's their stories that provide the foundation for a collection of deeply personal and inspiring recipes that reflect a focus on craft, integrity, family, and creativity.

On a practical level, the recipes found within are not like most recipes you'll find on popular recipe websites or apps or—most especially—in printed cookbooks. They are rich in color and detail, with annotations containing professional tips, instructional photographs, and concise technique videos. Click on a link within any recipe to reveal tips from the chef that will help save time and sharpen your skills in the kitchen.

Each of the chefs featured in this edition has one or more popular restaurants or will soon open a new restaurant. If you're in New York City, or Nashville in Maneet's case, pay them a visit. And if you find your way to I Sodi, I highly recommend one of the featured Negronis as an aperitif.

Part 2

Some of the best storytelling takes place at the dinner table. And some of those great stories come not from the people sitting around the table, but from the food itself. Food tells a story, but not only about the cuisine of a culture. Food primarily, and most fascinatingly, relates the story of the cooks behind it. One meal can divulge a cook’s values, for example: If he or she believes in local, sustainable fare, or is a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. A meal can tell tales about a cook’s travels—the wonderful recipes from one’s wanderings, or even a simple summer abroad. A meal can disclose one’s roots, and how far that cook has come from that place, yet still hold it dear. A meal can also reveal a cook’s creativity, by taking one’s culinary memories and in turn, making a dish that tastes brand new.

As women continue to gain traction in the culinary industry, proficient chefs such as Carmen Gonzalez, Rachel Graville, Sara Jenkins, and Sarah Simmons are making professional kitchens a more inclusive place. We asked these four chefs to share recipes that take the reader on a journey relating the experiences of their lives both in and out of the kitchen. Through the recipes and stories presented in this e-book, the home cook can come along as a participant—not just as an observer—in our chefs’ journeys.

Carmen Gonzalez’s journey began on the west coast of Puerto Rico in the small town of Aguadilla. The gutsy young woman left her hometown to open a café in Old San Juan, on the other side of the island, when she was just 19 years old. There, she learned some harsh business lessons but the experience bolstered her resolve to pursue cooking as a career. After moving to New York and graduating from the New York Restaurant School, Carmen landed a job at New York City’s esteemed Quilted Giraffe, where she worked under the legendary chef Barry Wine. She then decamped for Miami, where she commandeered the popular restaurants Clowns and Carmen the Restaurant, which was named Best New Restaurant by Esquire magazine when it opened in 2003. In 2012 she unveiled Carmen at the Danforth in Portland, Maine, which was awarded Eater.com’s Best Restaurant in Maine. Fans of television cooking shows know Carmen for Top Chef Masters Season 2, and for her current Spanish language cooking show, La Chispa de Chef Carmen Gonzalez on the MGM Latin America channel, which entertains 22 million viewers in 20 countries. Carmen is currently at work on her first cookbook and opening a new restaurant in New York City. Her recipes here demonstrate her growth from regional Puerto Rican cooking to Latin-influenced American cuisine.

The world primed Sara Jenkins’s palate, and her career. Growing up in Lebanon, Italy, France, and Spain, Sara’s love of food was born in the Mediterranean. Her parents—a foreign correspondent father and writer mother—always embraced the widely varied flavors of every country they visited in their many travels. Sara was the beneficiary of the cultural—and culinary—education each country brought. As her mother, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, grew into a world-famous food and cookbook writer, Sara didn’t consider cooking professionally until she found herself on the wrong career path. After studying art in the U.S. and working as a photographer, Sara found that she only felt at home in the kitchen. She transitioned into the culinary field in Boston, working under Barbara Lynch and Todd English, before returning to Florence to sharpen her skills in Tuscan cooking. Sara came back to the U.S. and made a splash as a chef at leading New York City Italian restaurants such as I Coppi and Il Buco, and by penning her own cookbook, Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Beyond. In 2008 she opened Porchetta, a storefront devoted to Italian-style roasted pork sandwiches, in the city's East Village. It spurred her next restaurant, Porsena, just down the block, a wildly popular neighborhood Italian spot that made her a semi-finalist for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards. Sara’s journey pays homage to the food of her upbringing, with a mission to demonstrate the simplicity and purity of the Mediterranean table.

A Food & Wine magazine contest prompted Sarah Simmons to change careers and cook for a living. Born and raised in North Carolina, Simmons attended the University of Georgia, then worked in Atlanta and New York as a retail strategist for international companies, including Pokemon. Always a devoted and enthusiastic home cook, and inspired by her caterer mother, Simmons was picked from thousands of contest entrants as the winner of Food & Wine's Home Cook Superstar for her Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Pumpkin Seed Brittle. The prize: A trip to the Cayman Food & Wine Festival where she rubbed elbows with culinary luminaries such as Eric Ripert and José Andrés. After those chefs encouraged her to cook for a living, Sarah settled in New York City and opened City Grit, a culinary salon where she shares the kitchen with visiting chefs from around the country. Simmons has since been named one of America’s Greatest New Cooks by Food & Wine. Her recipes here evoke a two-fold part of her culinary journey: The time she spent studying and working in Japan along with her upbringing in the American South. Through her recipes, Sarah finds the common ground between these two seemingly disparate cuisines.

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