Food blogger Adam Roberts, otherwise known as the Amateur Gourmet, has just released a new cookbook and is coming to S.F. this week to celebrate it. To write Secrets of the Best Chefs, Roberts traveled around the country visiting the kitchens of big-name chefs, learned to cook from them, and collected their techniques and recipes for home cooks to recreate in their own kitchens.
We've been following and cooking from Roberts' blog for years, and always appreciated his down-to-earth, conversational approach to recipes, which makes you cook from your gut instead of your head. Throughout Secrets of the Best Chefs, Roberts instructs you to throw in a nob of butter or season if you see fit -- instructions that put the onus on you to make decisions, not just blindly follow a recipe.
To decide which recipes and techniques ended up in the book, Roberts asked the chefs themselves to choose three recipes that best reflected their approach to cooking. This approach brought out information from the chef that they might not have revealed otherwise, he says. After a few chefs were onboard, he worked with them to curate just the right mix of ingredients, techniques, and cuisines.
The curatorial philosophy also extended to locations. To determine the mix of S.F. chefs, Robers thought about "how to create a portrait of the city, how to bring in a lot of cultures into the book," he says. Bay Area luminaries that made the cut include Gary Danko (buckwheat blinis, asparagus soup); Elizabeth Falkner (puntarelle with candied bacon, red velvet cupcakes); Daniel Patterson (carrots braised in brown butter, grilled brassica with dandelion-green vinaigrette); Samin Nosrat (buttermilk-marinated chicken, butternut squash tortellini); and Charles Phan (caramel shrimp with lemongrass, steamed chicken with preserved black beans and ginger).
And of course Alice Waters. "Alice Waters was kind of the holy grail," Roberts says with a laugh. He'd met her years ago in Miami when he worked for the Food Network, so he reached out to her team, and she invited him to come to her home for the book. Roberts calls the afternoon "extraordinary ... being in the kitchen with this woman who was part of this whole scene that kind of redefined how Americans thought of cooking..." He says he's spent many a weekend morning making Waters' olive-oil fried eggs with herbs from the book.
Roberts and Samin Nosrat will be hosting a dinner inspired by the book on Wednesday at 8 PM at Bar Tartine After Dark. Tickets are $110 and include a copy of the book along with a three-course meal, wine, and gratuity, and are available here. Roberts will also appear at Copperfield's Books in Napa on Sunday, Oct. 20.