Comments: What does it take to get a cookbook sold in this country? Movie-star looks? Check. How about a ready-to-go coffee-table book in English with stunning photography? Check. How about winning the 2009 Bocuse d'Or, the most prestigious cooking competition in the world? Check, check!
No, we're not talking about Ochef (but we can understand how you might think that!). We're talking about Geir Skeie, the charming, handsome, talented, and now certainly the most well-known chef in Norway and elsewhere in Europe. OK, so his name may be a little unpronounceable (say, "Gear Scheeeeeee," with a little extra saliva at the back of your throat). But as far as we can tell, that's his only flaw.
The book recounts Skeie's culinary journey from schoolboy on an island off the west coast of Norway (i.e., the middle of nowhere) who, at 13, was so inspired by a cooking show on television, at 13, that he set his sights on winning the Bocuse d'Or and becoming the best chef in the world, at 13. Did we mention he was 13 at the time? He goes to a small cooking school on the island, apprentices in a string of top restaurants in Norway, prepares night and day for six months for the biennial Bocuse competition, and winds up winning it by the largest margin ever, by the time he's 28.
There are recipes throughout the book that anyone can make, from stews and pastries to a huge range of fish and meat dishes and beautiful desserts. Measurements are by weight, so you'll need a kitchen scale. Some ingredients will be hard to find and some you may never have heard of. You will have to know that a Swede is a rutabaga (perhaps it's a Nordic inside joke?), and there are issues to challenge you here and there. But it's not until you get to the back of the book, where Skeie introduces his prize-winning dishes and presentations, that you'll feel seriously out of your league. No matter – cook from the front of the book and drool over the back. A colleague who was reading over our shoulder said there wasn't a dish in the book that she wouldn't eat very happily.
Now the bad news – we don’t know where you can track down this book in this county – and we have looked! We got our copy a few months ago at the Frankfurt Book Fair. So how about it, American publishers/distributors/publicists/booksellers/Amazon/Borders/Barnes & Noble? In the cooking world, this is the ultimate success story. And Geir Skeie has produced a stunning book telling the story. It should be available somewhere in this small country of ours.