While chef Pomeroy does present an argument for a homegrown attitude and distances herself from the ‘cult of celebrity’ of famous restaurant-owning chefs around the world, I have to admit I did find almost all of the recipes to seem somewhat pretentious in and of themselves. Half the names I couldn’t pronounce and likely wouldn’t order in a restaurant because they all felt ‘high concept’ – cooking as an art or obsession rather than casual or pastime recreation. As such, this is an amazing book for the aspiring gourmand or inveterate home chef. But for all others, the intricate and exotic recipes may be a tough nut to crack.
Most of the book’s techniques are hidden in the recipes themselves. So you’ll want to make every recipe in order to really learn the art of cooking. As well, this is about gourmet food – so those on restrictive diets (e.g., vegan) won’t find a lot of love in this cookbook. The tone is very serious and at times I felt like I was taking part in a high end cooking class with (yes) a fairly snobbish chef. By that statement, I mean that the chef requires the food to be respected (and not the chef him/herself respected).
The recipe layout is dense and problematic. Paragraphs for steps is a disaster and difficult to follow. I will always prefer simple numbered sentences so I can easily go from book to stove and then back to book again. There are nice images and the layout is attractive. It’s just a shame that the actual recipe steps are confusing and definitely frustrating.
As mentioned earlier, to get the most out of this book, you’ll need to do each recipe. The ‘lessons’ start with sauces and work up to main meals. Almost everything in the book is quite exotic, so those looking for new and interesting meals will find a lot to love here. Those with finicky eaters in the house, though, will likely run into problems.
For me, the book was not the down to earth basic cooking guide that I had wanted. But for those looking for high end techniques interspersed into recipes that are actually lessons, this will be a very rewarding experience. So adjust your expectations and I think you’ll know best if you want to take on this book. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.