Jeremiah Tower, Author, Donald Sultan, Illustrator . Stewart, Tabori & Chang $35 (288p) ISBN 978-1-58479-230-7

Like a culinary Zelig, Tower seems to have popped up during key moments in modern food history. He was chef at Chez Panisse in the 1970s and is often credited with inventing "California cuisine." This Renaissance man of the culinary world (he's also the author of New American Classics and a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner) has an opinion on everything, from frying eggs to aging game birds. An initial chapter of basic instructions is appropriately titled "Delights and Prejudices." Tower is admirably specific, even when it comes to something as simple as a Chicken Club Sandwich, yet not afraid to suggest shortcuts, as in Spit-Roasted Chinatown Suckling Pig Pizza, where he tells the reader simply to purchase the pre-cooked pig. Occasionally recipes veer into fussiness, as with Rich Mussel Bisque with Shrimpmeat Garlic Toasts and Nasturtiums, and Tower is not immune to the author-chef curse of calling for highly specific ingredients that mere culinary mortals may have trouble laying their hands on, as in Figs with Wild Thyme Honey in Red Wine and Lapsang Souchong Custard. On balance, however, exciting, innovative recipes such as Leatherwood Honey- and Sichuan Pepper-Glazed Rack of Lamb with Eggplant Pasta and Green Goddess Olive Oil and Lemon Sauce dominate. Donald Sultan's vivid still-life paintings are a perfect match to Tower's lively style, and if sometimes recipes get out of hand, well, that's to be expected from this kind of creative mind. (Oct.)

Forecast:It has been 16 long years since Tower's New American Classics won a James Beard Award, but he returns with a bang here. Exceptionally attractive art, including an eye-catching cover, is sure to promote sales.

Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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