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First Look: The Cook It Raw Book

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[Photo: Paula Forbes / Eater]

Here's the Cook It Raw book, edited by event founder Alessandro Porcelli. The book chronicles four iterations — Denmark, Lapland, Italy and Japan — of the event chef René Redzepi describes as "boy scouts going to camp. Learning to tie new knots and see new places in the world and then seeing how we can bring back what we learnt and use it in our own kitchens." A collection of chefs from around the world (including Redzepi, Albert Adrià, Ben Shewry, Quique Dacosta, Alex Atala, Sean Brock, Daniel Patterson and more) travel to a location that is new to most of them, and use the ingredients of that place to each prepare a dish for a gala dinner. Tips and tricks are traded. Lichen is gathered. Reindeer are slaughtered. Food is philosophized.

Cook it Raw the book is more a culinary scrapbook or a catalog than a cookbook, although it does contain a few recipes. Essays from the likes of Lisa Abend, Jeffrey Steingarten, Daniel Patterson and a foreword by Anthony Bourdain; glossy photos of both the process and the dishes themselves; charts and graphs and all kinds of event notations, from emails inviting chefs to participate to order forms to invitations to the dinners themselves. It's a high quality documentation of an event few will ever actually be able to attend, although, if Cook It Raw's goal is successful, diners reap its benefits at the chefs' home restaurants every day.

It also must be said that Redzepi's culinary scouting trips are a bit of a boys club, or as food writer Adam Sachs calls it in the book, "a dude-ocracy." Cook It Raw Poland 2012, which is not featured in the book, did feature Slovenian chef Ana Ros; she was the first woman to participate. To fixate on that point would be to ignore the many fascinating things about both the Cook It Raw book and the event itself, but it's still worth noting.

Below, a video preview of the book. Cook It Raw is out from Phaidon April 9 (pre-order on Amazon).

Video: Cook It Raw

· Cook It Raw [YouTube]
· All Cook It Raw Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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