“Beginnings” the new book by Chris Cosentino
I am a longtime fan of “Boccalone”, THE premier San Francisco salumeria located in the San Francisco Ferry Building (ground zero for foodies and one of my favorite haunts). Consequently, I have also become a big fan of its co-founder, Chris Cosentino. When I heard that Chris had written a cookbook my interest was piqued. I saw the he was doing a cooking demo and book signing to promote his new book, “Beginnings” at Williams-Sonoma. I knew what I had to do…I had my mission. So I donned my “Tasty Salted Pig Part” tee-shirt and headed out.
I remember a time when I was a voracious reader and collector of cookbooks. I would burn through them the way some people read novels. I am not really sure why I lost interest. Maybe it was the Food Network or the internet that attempted to make them obsolete. It seems like most of the cookbooks I have seen lately are slick “coffee table” books from celebrity chefs. That is not the case here. During the demo, Chris made a remark that he wasn’t “cool”… I beg to differ. “Beginnings” is about the coolest cookbook I have read in a long time. If I had to sum up Chris or his book with one word it would have to be “integrity”. As the name suggests, it is all about recipies that begin a meal. But this book is so much more than a collection of recipies. It is a philosophy. It is the way to do things. The book is brilliantly laid out by seasons. For a personal touch the pages are full of his hand written notes and insights. For a guy who is known for his wonderful cured meats and “head-to-tail” cuisine, the recipes in this book feature lots of colorful vegetables, herbs and other fresh ingredients all exquisitely photographed by Michael Harlan Turkell. For the Williams-Sonoma demo, Chris prepared a beautiful salad of “Fava Beans, Strawberries, and Pecorino”. It represented his style perfectly: fresh seasonal ingredients, simple but thoughtful preparation, balance, color, and originality. I really enjoyed watching him cook. He is enthusiastic, amiable and COOL.
So to make a case for Chris’s coolness factor, I put together a list of bullet points:
- Only serves tomatoes in his restaurant when they are in season and worth eating
- Won’t use fish that is endangered so his “son can enjoy salmon when he is 40”
- Has nifty tattoos
- Works hard every day and still makes time to cook breakfast for cool wife and son
- Has cool wife and son
- Runs a resource and educational website for the preparation of offal, called “Offal Good”
- Is working on writing a comic book
- Opened PIGG, “a tribute to all things pork around the world” inside “UMAMIcatessen” in Los Angeles
- Since 2002 has consistently turned out remarkable fare at “Incanto” in Noe Valley as executive chef (along with business partner Mark Pastore).
Enough gushing…I better quit before a restraining order is invoked. But in closing I can strongly recommend picking up “Beginnings” by Chris Cosentino. There are enough great recipes in there to inspire you for a whole year. This should give Chris enough time to write a follow-up book where “Beginnings” left off. Anything short of that would be totally un-cool. Enjoy!