Mostly no, if savoury chefs are the daring fighter pilots of the cooking world, the pastry chef is often the tail gunner. Bringing up the rear every time.
We all love our starters and mains, but we often don’t give the dessert menu much love. As the title of this book suggests, by the time the menu reappears we often have no room for dessert.
But if Will Goldfarb was in the kitchen, we’d probably all make that effort. In fact, we might actually go easy on the preceding courses just to have room for dessert.
Will has had quite a cooking life, working in the kitchens of Adria, Tetsuya Wakuda and Morimoto. Originally a New Yorker, he’s lived and cooked all over the world and today has his own restaurant Room4Dessert in Bali, Ubud.
A somewhat curious writer – he moves from rather bookish, pretentious observations, to saying things like’making shit taste good together’ in a rather unsettling way. No doubt it’s the result of his years working in kitchens where you had to be a bit of a tough guy to survive. Tattoos and knives etc.
The intro is long. It’s his life story basically, divided into chapters. It’s a good read, especially if you yourself fancy a career in the kitchen. It lays the bare the aforementioned hardships and heartaches, but at the same time does rather slyly glamourise them too. Today professional kitchens are perhaps less daunting places to work physically, the hours more civilised and the HR departments more active. Is that a good thing? Probably.
So, to the recipes. Make no mistake unless you’re already a pastry chef or an extremely keen amateur, these are going to be very hard to recreate at home. So many elements that are recipes in themselves, and you’re going to need some equipment too. You will find yourself acetating, dehydrating, macerating and quite possibly hyperventilating.
But you will be salivating. These dishes are all quite remarkable, beautiful to look at when done by an expert and the most remarkable flavours and combinations are assembled.
The instructions are clear and precise, the introductions to each recipe were perhaps written while under the influence of Hemingway or Bourdain. Or just under the influence.
Quite a few of the processes are detailed more fully at the back of the book, with step by step photos, which will be of great use – words are fine but a photo really shows you what to do.
It’s a sumptuous book, publishers Phaidon have a reputation for publishing high end cookery books and have given this their all in terms of production values. It’s a status publication for them and it shows.
One to show off on your coffee table and to lust over at the kitchen table.