Wednesday, July 13, 2016

something to food about

Title:  something to food about: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs
Author:  Questlove, Ben Greenman, Kyoko Hamada, Anthony Bourdain, 
Publication Information:  Clarkson Potter. 2016. 240 pages.
ISBN:  0553459422 / 978-0553459425

Book Source:  I received this book through the Blogging for Books program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "What is food for thought"

Favorite Quote:  "This project began as an exploration of food, but it ended as an exploration of creativity. Working with chefs, and trying to figure out how they do the things they do, helped me to see how my own creative process works. Creativity never stops."

Let me start with the first thing that reaches out to me about this book. I love the cover. I first saw it from far away and was intrigued by the portrait. From far away, I see the whole. As I step closer, I start to see the ingenuity of the individual pieces and the choices made to represents the parts of the human body. I see the food, but I also see the anatomical drawing of a medical textbook. Most of all, I see the creativity. This cover gives the statement "you are what you eat" a whole new meaning.

Next, I get to the tag line for the book. "Exploring creativity with innovative chefs." Food and cooking are definitely creative outlets for me. So, I am drawn in further, still unsure quite what to expect.

Then comes the introduction, both of the author and the subject. Ahmir Khalib Thompson, aka Questlove, is an American musician, producer, artist, journalist, author, and food lover. This book is the result of his love affair with food.

If you are looking for a cookbook, this is not the book for you. This is about conversations and ideas. The introduction sets very clear expectations on what this book is and what it isn't. It is about chefs who are "artists facing forward." It is "about the ideas behind the food." It is about "the creative process of these chefs illustrated through photography."

What follows are individual interviews with ten different chefs - Nathan Myhrvold, Daniel Humm, Michael Solomonov, Ludo Lefebvre, Dave Beran, Jesse Griffiths, Donald Link, Dominique Crenn, Daniel Patterson, and Ryan Roadhouse. The conversations are almost philosophical in nature with questions ranging from your ideal next employee to the portrayal of food in science fiction to the history of race as it relates to food. The conversations are all as unique as the chefs themselves. They leave me with two thoughts. One is a feeling as if I were there, present and sharing in the conversation. The second is that Questlove is a person I would love to talk to (as would many other people I am sure!), not for his celebrity but to have the kind of conversation portrayed in this book.

Part of what gives these conversations their warmth and depth are the photographs. The photography is very different from what I expect. Food photography, particularly cookbook photography, is all about the dish of food and presenting it in the most appetizing way possible. The photographs in this book are about the process and the ideas of food. Many capture the small details from a single ingredient to hands covered in a marinade to a few even of the people. The compositions and the colors make me stop and think.

This book falls into many different categories. It is a coffee table book; the cover and the photography are conversation starters. It is a journalistic book for it is a documentation of interviews. It is an academic book for it highlights the philosophy of both Questlove and these chefs. Ultimately, it is a foodlover's book, with photographs to salivate over, chefs whose work to aspire to, and food ideas to contemplate.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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