Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781596914704, 311pp.
Publication Date: October 28, 2008
While waiting for construction to finish on his restaurant A Voce, Andrew Carmellini faced an unusual challenge. After a brilliant career in professional kitchens (including a 6-year tour as chef de cuisine at Cafe Boulud), he was faced with the harsh reality of life as a civilian cook: no prep cooks, no saucier, no daily deliveries - just him and his wife in their tiny Manhattan-apartment kitchen.
Urban Italian is made up of the recipes that result when a great chef has to use the same resources available to the rest of us. In these hundred recipes - covering five distinct courses, cocktails, and base recipes - Carmellini shows how to make stunning, soulful food with nothing more than the ingredients, techniques, and time available to the ordinary home cook. Recipes include crisped artichokes with yogurt, mint, and sauce picante; duck meatballs with cherry moustarda sauce; roast pork with Italian plums and grappa; spicy cod with rock shrimp; and marinated grapes with red-wine granita.
Along with the recipes (beautifully photographed by Quentin Bacon), Carmellini and his wife, Gwen Hyman, have written a number of sections to help readers bring home more of a great chef's experience. These begin with a narrative that traces Andrew's culinary education, and continue with short pieces on places and ingredients, placed alongside recipes to shed light on the history and practice of simple, beautiful cooking.
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year "Creative yet accessible. Carmellini presents spectacular recipes while opening a window onto his life with food, from his Italian-American boyhood and cooking school to revelations while traveling in Italy and being a top New York chef. Carmellini gives [the recipes] an idiosyncratic touch that heightens flavors and makes them work for the modern cook at any skill level. Carmellini shows why he is considered one of the country's best young chefs, and a natural teacher."—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Andrew Carmellini’s Urban Italian is that rare breed of cookbook: written by a skilled, top-tier professional, yet at all times accessible, unintimidating, and inspiring to the home cook. In short, it’s everything a cookbook should be. The conversational style provides both a thrilling introduction and the feeling, while cooking, that the chef is standing next to in the kitchen, forgiving your mistakes, urging you along, painlessly expanding your reservoir of knowledge. In a world awash with Italian cookbooks, this one's a must-have.”—Anthony Bourdain
“Andrew Carmellini is an enormously talented chef who brings a distinctive style and voice to his restaurant. Urban Italian captures that style and voice for the home cook with intriguing recipes—and also with great stories about the cook’s life, written with a candor and bravado not typically found in chefs’ cookbooks. A terrific book.”—Michael Ruhlman
"Andrew’s passion for Italy is contagious. Urban Italian is entertaining, informative, and witty." —Eric Ripert
“This would be a great book if it did nothing more than faithfully capture between covers the great food served at A Voce. But, marvel of marvels, the modest-but-confident chef I've admired for so long for his cooking can also write his ass off. Urban Italian is every bit as intimate, profane, soulful, and amusing as Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. To paraphrase Andrew himself on the subject of cooking, this book engages your senses, takes your mind off your day-to-day problems, and makes both the reader and (I'm pretty sure) the writer happy.” —Sara Moulton
“Like many Italian American chefs, myself included, Andrew had to go through France to get to Italy. Urban Italian takes the reader on that journey. Fabulous recipes, of course, but just as important are the stories that informed the heart and soul of this great chef.” —Tom Colicchio