Who are America's greatest new cooks? According to the editors of Food & Wine magazine in their appropriately named cookbook America's Greatest New Cooks, Vol. 1 (American Express Publishing, $33), they're chefs like Nico Monday and Amelia O'Reilly, a couple who worked at Chez Panisse under Alice Waters, and now run The Market Restaurant in Gloucester, Mass., with an honest, local sensibility; Bryant Ng, who blends his Singaporean roots with classical training at The Spice Table in Los Angeles, also named a Best New Chef in 2012 by Food & Wine; Sarah Simmons, a home cook turned restaurateur who may not have a culinary degree, but has started something truly innovative — a restaurant that does pop-up appearances by different chefs each night in New York City; and Alex Stupak, former molecular gastronomist and pastry chef turned "Mexican food maverick." None of these are exactly household names, but perhaps someday, they will be. And locally, they may already be famous, so perhaps you might have heard of a few of them.
Why these chefs and how did they get discovered? Well, as for why, you'll just have to cook a few of their recipes to find out for yourself, and perhaps you'll agree. As for how, that's pretty simple. Food & Wine's editors crisscrossed the country eating, eating, and eating, a job that many of us dream of and can only hope for. Tough life. The hard part came later, of course, when all of the recipes were edited, tested, styled, and photographed by the folks in their kitchens.
In a way, this cookbook is a cheat sheet, a CliffsNotes for home cooks who wish to experience food from around the country from the next potential "latest and greatest" without having to travel or spend exorbitant amounts of money — just a quick trip to the supermarket or farmers' market and perhaps a specialty store will do. And that's something that's definitely worth exploring.
Despite the nose-to-tail, pork-obsessed focus of Jimmy Bannos Jr. and his restaurant, The Purple Pig, located in Chicago, not everything Bannos serves is meat and potatoes. This healthy and delicious salad, for example, showcases a healthy grain in the best way possible.
Classical technique meets Southeast Asian flavors in Bryant Ng's signature style with this elegant yet easy-to-prepare dessert that draws upon Thai influences. It also comes together quickly thanks to the innovative use of lime juice instead of eggs or gelatin to solidify the custard.
Vegetarian cooking doesn't have to be bland, and Alex Stupak of Empellón Cocina in New York City shows the way with his interesting take on a classic Mexican brunch (or hangover) dish.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.
This post was originally published December 31, 2012