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Top Chef:
The Quickfire Cookbook
By Emily Miller and the Producers of Top Chef
ISBN: 0811870820
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication date: September 2009
Format: Hardcover
Number of recipes: 75
List price: $29.95
Type: Television companion
Sample recipe: Elia's Ahi Tuna with Spinach Salad and Mini Onions
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive encyclopedia coffee-table
Meal part: all breakfast/brunch lunch dinner dessert
Competition: outclassed a bit behind in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: airfare required online specialty store supermarket pantry
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose minimal complete educational
Time conscious: not conscious bald lies white lies realistic scout's honor
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant ample generous
Photos/drawings: none drawings b&w photos occasional color all/mostly color
Art contribution: disappointing distracting decorative beautiful glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine kind work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging ok clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy delicate years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: hard-to-find spotty sufficient most pages every page
Table of contents: missing frustrating minimal helpful excellent
Index: none confusing adequate nice a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writing history: beginner writer/journalist food writer writing cook personality
Cooking heritage: unknown self-taught teacher chef celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short satisfactory successful exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward good friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: This is exactly what it's authors/producers say it is – part "fanzine," part cookbook. That is, if you're not a fan of the Top Chef show and its speedy "Quickfire Challenges" (and even if you are), this is only partially usable as a cookbook.

In case you're out of the loop, Top Chef routinely calls upon its chef-contestants to make an appetizer using only vending-machine foods, create a dish based on a color, make something delicious using three different canned foods, cook using $10 of ingredients from one aisle of the supermarket, create a signature hot dog, make a dessert for a bunch of Girl Scouts, take a dish from Top Chef: The Cookbook and turn it into a soup, etc., etc. The editor has done a reasonable job of selecting the most successful, appealing, and user-friendly of the contestants' recipes, but these are not hoops you'll want to jump through every night.

Drawing from the first five seasons of the show, the book features 75 recipes – including Pizza alla Greek; Bittersweet Chocolate Cake; Snapper with Blackberry-Beet Compote; Strawberry-Saffron Freeform Tart; Kebeb Sausage with Tomato Jam; Lime Gingersnap Crumble Sundae; Reuben Benedict with Thousand Island Hollandaise; Rice Salad with Seared Skirt Steak; Leek, Ham and Egg Soup; Poached Egg Salad; Pan-seared Trout with Summer Corn, Tomatoes, and Grapes; and some less traditional dishes.

The book includes lots of sidebar material, including interviews with contestants, tips for home cooks, tons of photos, trivia related to the chefs, dishes, and ingredients, and advice on hosting a Quickfire Cocktail Party and staging Quickfire Challenges at home.


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