When I get a new recipe book home, the first thing I do is turn to the introduction page. The recipes have already sold me the book but now I want to know why it was created. I believe learning something about the creator helps you understand their recipes better. Per-Anders starts his introduction with "As a documentary photographer the most important for me has always been the human story". So you can image I was in love with this book before I got past the first page.
The main premise of the book is to get behind eighteen chefs and front of house staff of worldwide creative restuarants. To provide an insight into what's eaten behind the kitchen walls - what the chefs cook for their staff, friends and families. But there's so many other layers to this book - in essence it captures the very essence of these chefs and house staff and what makes them tick.
The photography is breathtaking. Per-Anders has quickly become one of my favourite food photographers. The portraits are honest and real and the food shots aren't over styled. I could literally spend hours just sitting and looking through this book. But that's just the photography.
When you start reading the recipes, you really get a sense of what each chef is about and I noticed that at the heart of each recipe is something that could easily have been discarded - cheaper cuts of meat, stale baguettes and every day roots that would be hanging around kitchens in abundance.
The book is very clever in it's layout - the recipes are designed at the bottom of the page for easy reading (honestly, I can't tell you how much of a difference this makes when following) and each section (each chef or member of staff) of recipes is on simple, matt smaller leaves that sit inset to the part glossier full-size photography pages. There are captions printed on some of the photo pages and in some cases an example of a house schedule.
Though the recipes are wonderfully different in that they bring something new to the table (no pun intended) in terms of cook books, I could just get lost in this book for its narrative and photography.
Formally Emma Gutteridge