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First Look: Eating With the Chefs by Per-Anders Jorgensen

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Here's Eating with the Chefs, a collection of photographs and staff meal recipes from world renowned restaurants by Fool magazine EIC Per-Anders Jorgensen. As one might expect, the photographs — almost entirely of restaurant staff during quiet hours — are stunning, documentary-style shots that play with the way light cuts across an empty restaurant. Writes Jorgensen in the introduction, "To capture staff preparing and eating 'family meal,' whether they do it standing up at their station, in the debris of the dining room after service, or in the shade of a tree in a beautiful garden, gives a very human perspective on how they think about and relate to food."

I'm going to be perfectly honest: I'm not a huge fan of staff meal cookbooks. I'd either rather hear about the food a restaurant cooks when it's showing off for patrons, or dive into a really well done home cooking book. The in-between is just not as interesting to me. Staff meal books have always seemed to be a way for publishers to make their famous chef/restaurant authors more approachable, and it can come across as a little gimmicky.

But Jorgensen approaches the topic differently than his staff meal cookbook colleagues. The recipes in Eating with the Chefs are supporting players to the photography; they're even printed on smaller pages than the photographs. These are presented as documents of a restaurant, and it's more in line with Jeff Scott's Notes From a Kitchen series than an attempt to make a famous chef's food appealing to a home cook. Who are the people who make a restaurant work? Here they are, in all their dish-washing, potato-peeling, walk in-cleaning, glass-polishing glory.

Restaurants in the book include: Attica (Australian Tom Yum, Butter Chicken), Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pork Parts Bolognese), el Celler de Can Roca (Squid Rings in Batter, Rice Casserole), the French Laundry (Carolina BBQ Pork), Mugaritz (Lentil Stew with Pork Ribs), Noma (Chocolate Chip Cookies), Osteria Francescana (Spaghetti with Mussels), St. John (the St. John Big Breakfast, Deviled Kidneys), and more.

Eating with the Chefs is out now from Phaidon (buy at Amazon). Check it out:

· Eating With the Chefs [Amazon]
· All Per-Anders Jorgensen Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Cookbook Coverage on Eater [-E-]