Cookbook Review: Relae a Book of Ideas

Saturday, November 15, 2014

<a href="">Relæ: A Book of Ideas</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Wow! What an incredible cookbook! I was expecting something similar to NOMA, North, or A New Napa Cuisine and it was not. I was thoroughly impressed with how well written and refreshing Relae is. In a market saturated with restaurant cookbooks that are recipes driven, chef Puglisi defied the norm and created a cookbook meant to inspire today’s as well as tomorrow’s chefs and home cooks.

I enjoyed reading about his perseverance to open Relae on a run-down stretch of one of Copenhagen’s most crime-ridden streets, Jægersborggade. It was an eye-opening experience to read about his journey as a chef and restaurateur whose main goal was to bring impeccable, intelligent, sustainable, and plant-centric food to a homey atmosphere instead of the pretentious conventional fine dining restaurants with 4 hour tasting menus.

Through a series of essays, he showed us the creative process behind his work and ideas that ground his kitchen. He wrote about everything from products and producers, benefit of filtered water vs tap, creating different textures, ingredients (ie. jerusalem artichokes, buttermilk, butter, chicken, elderflower, crab apple, anchovies, coastal fish, etc), techniques (ie. fermentation, pickling, cooking in butter emulsion, making nut milks,etc), combining different flavors, leaf to steam cooking, and so much more. At the bottom of each topic that chef Puglisis wrote about, he puts the recipes and page numbers related to the topic. He wanted the readers to comprehend the ideas behind the dishes served at his restaurant and how connected they are to carrying the dish through.  

After a series of essays about ideas, chef Puglisis presented the dishes served at the restaurant and the inspiration behind those dishes. The dish is accompanied by a picture so readers can see what the final product looks like. The essay about the dish and picture don't have the ingredient list and instruction. The actual recipes are in the appendix section at the end of the book. Every recipe is accompanied with a thumbnail of the dish so you don’t have to flip back and forth between the essays about the dish and the recipes themselves. I doubt that I will try to replicate his recipes due to difficulty in sourcing ingredients. However, I will adapt some of the techniques that he wrote about such as using reduced wine to enhance the acidity of a dish. The man is literally giving out his restaurant’s secrets!  

This book is a labor of love for chef Puglisi. Instead of writing a cookbook full of recipes, he focused on inspiring people to cook the way that his own philosophy is rooted in. This cookbook is a book of ideas and different than any conventional cookbooks that I have seen. This book will inspire you for years to come. I hope chef Puglisi wins an award for this cookbook.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

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