Off The Menu: Staff Meals From America's Top Restaurants

Marissa Guggiana, Author
Marissa Guggiana. Welcome (Random, dist.), $40 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59962-102-9
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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A perk of restaurant work, staff meals give workers an opportunity to go over new menu items, discuss upcoming events, and prepare for the evening's service as well as use up leftovers from the night before. Guggiana (Primal Cuts: Cooking with America's Best Butchers) visited over 50 of America's top restaurants to talk with the chefs and check out what their staff was eating. What she found was an amalgam of approaches to the tradition: Herbsaint in New Orleans was serving their staff the traditional Monday meal of red beans and rice, Austin's La Condesa offered up fish and chips, and the staff at Distrito in Philadelphia dug into rich chicken enchiladas and charros frijoles. Each restaurant receives a short profile, the story of their meal, and a Q&A with the head chefs. Because many of the meals were created to use up leftovers, home cooks may run into time and sourcing issues if they decide to attempt dishes such as Chicago's Butcher & Larder's homemade "hot dogs” served with a Jackson Coney sauce made from ground beef heart, but they'll also find plenty of accessible recipes for Brown Sugar Bacon Cookies, Chicken-Fried Duck Legs, and even the humble meatloaf. Though this isn't the first book to cover the tradition of staff meals, Guggiana's photos, Q&As, and text make it one of the best, sure to inspire a trip to the kitchen, or even the restaurants themselves. (Oct.)
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