cover image WD-50: The Cookbook

WD-50: The Cookbook

Wylie Dufresne, with Peter Meehan. Ecco/Bourdain, $75 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-231853-4

In 2003 on New York City’s Lower East Side, Dufresne opened WD-50, where he transformed ingredients in astonishing ways. This landmark book is a love letter to that paradise lost, and Dufresne’s lack of pretension makes it relatable, despite the fact that few home cooks will be able to recreate its multicomponent dishes (and many others will flinch at the book’s price). Visual puns abound, as with “fried eggs” with yolks made of carrot juice contained in a locust bean and carrageenan membrane, ice cream shaped to look like everything bagels and served with cream cheese combined with methylcellulose and then dehydrated, and faux tartlets with soft tahini gel rings in place of crisp crusts. Dufresne charmingly plays gastronomic Encyclopedia Brown as he explores the challenge of deep-fried mayonnaise, the wonders of “meat glue,” and his rationale for relaxing his no-salad rule and making one (albeit in the form of an endive leaf dipped in whipped vinaigrette and charred with a blowtorch) for “Lou effing Reed, the coolest person who was ever going to come for dinner.” Dufresne himself is a rock star of the kitchen, and his recipes here are clever and inspirational. (Oct.)