Here's Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant by New York City chef Marc Forgione and food writer Olga Massov. Forgione owns four restaurants, including the Laotian restaurant Khe-Yo and a steakhouse called American Cut that has locations in Atlantic City and New York. But this book is a massive treatise on Forgione's first restaurant, Marc Forgione, in Tribeca.
Paging through any given cookbook, you can generally tell who it's written for. Other chefs, for example, or busy parents, or young people looking for adventurous dinner party recipes. There are books for people who simply like to look at pretty photos of food and people who like to hear stories about eating perfect strawberries on a courtyard in France. There are books for bakers and canners and breadmakers and barbecue nuts and people on special diets.
So who is Marc Forgione written for?
In the introduction, he insists that "This book is meant to be cooked from." It's "a cookbook that, if you don't get intimidated by a handful of sous-vide recipes and odd spice blends, will make you a better cook." The potential for intimidation is there: the recipes are pure restaurant fare, with sub-recipes galore.
They're not quite on the intimidation level where, say, a Manresa or a Coi recipe might be, though. There are nuggets of larger recipes most cooks could prepare, a butternut squash risotto or a chili lobster dish or, hell, a bacon-and-banana infused whiskey dubbed the Elvis Presley Whiskey. Forgione even had his mom test every recipe in the book, and includes an interview with her on the subject. Julie Forgione, for the record, recommends "you can make changes if you need to and not be so stressed out by it."
So is this a book for Marc Forgione's mom? Is it a book for his Iron Chef fans, who will undoubtedly buy it regardless? Sure. The people I think will get the most out of it, however, are culinary students. Chefs in the making. The book is basically an introduction to a certain style of New York City restaurant cooking. The difference between this book and other tomes in this genre — say, The Gramercy Tavern cookbook from late last year — is that the introductory information is given in a relaxed, insidery way. Forgione comes across as a mentor figure. The technique instruction almost reminds you of the the chapter in Kitchen Confidential where Anthony Bourdain advises on "How to Cook Like the Pros" (off-set spatulas! plastic squeeze bottles!).
There is a lot of information here. A lot. There are essays on purveyors and photo essays on technique. There are many, many recipes, all of which contain subrecipes. There is a 32 page intro on the history of Marc Forgione's restaurant. There are recipes for how to make chicharrones that taste like Doritos, instructions for fileting fish and making fresh pasta, and multi-step recipes that include charcuterie, multiple sauces, and proteins sourced from specific vendors. There is a whole chapter on the divisive meal known as Brunch. Know a 17-year-old who wants to be a chef? Buy her this book and prepare for weeks of disastrous kitchen messes and, hopefully, increasingly delicious meals.
Marc Forgione is out April 29 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (pre-order on Amazon). Take a look inside: