If you do nothing else today, grab your iPhone or tablet and download Jeremiah Tower’s new ebook, Jeremiah Tower: Flavors of Taste. Click Here
It captures the genius of one of America’s great chefs, and the food that changed American cooking. It is illustrated with 75 recipes and 75 photographs, insightful commentary, and menus. Tower is a purist, obsessed with ingredients, what are the best and how to treat them. It defines the rules of the road for a thoughtful, dedicated chef.
“Where every day comes from is the point of this book. Zach Engel (a brilliant young chef in New Orleans, named the 2016 James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef) posted: “If you’re a cook read this and then go read his books and then his cookbooks. Because knowing where we came from helps us to move to where we need to be.” Back to the future. Looking back to see the way ahead.
“I try to teach cooks about who our predecessors are because they are the ones who have given us the opportunities to shine in a modern age of cuisine,” Zach says.
“In other words, whichever new and brilliant approaches to food, ingredients, and cooking are introduced, the kickstart for the new thinking comes from the original benchmarks,” says Tower.
Tower says the enthusiasm for fresh ingredients generated by the California cuisine movement in the ‘70s and ‘80s changed American cuisine forever. “When there’s something wonderful to be done, it’s worth doing in style, on your own terms and nobody else’s, if you’re not right there with me, then get out of the way.”
“You can get boutique farm and baby vegetables and lettuces and wild rice and fresh herbs pretty much everywhere now. What’s left for chefs to work with, in terms of innovation? Does that raise the bar?” he asks.
In Tower’s opinion, it does raise the bar. But the challenge now is not to find the ingredients, though that is, he believes, still a huge part of any chef’s work. He thinks the challenge is to step back and let the food and ingredients really speak, rather than say “Look, that is the food of a famous chef.” It’s not necessarily doing something new, but doing something new for yourself, and letting the food be famous.”Widely recognized as the godfather of modern American cooking and a mentor to rising chefs, Jeremiah Tower is one of the most influential cooks of the last thirty years. He celebrates those moments in the last one hundred years of meals with culinary stars James Beard, Richard Olney, Elizabeth David, and Julia Child, as well as Sophia Loren, Pavarotti, Merle Oberon and the Bloomingdales, Cecil Beaton and Escoffier and legendary events.
Tower’s work provides a colorful trajectory of American cuisine. His original California culinary revolution kicked off a groundbreaking movement. As California cuisine evolved his emphasis on fresh, local products began defining and elevating America’s melting pot of regional cuisines. The impact continues today in restaurants from farm to table, restaurant menu language and style, and the emergence of locavore farmer’s markets. Wine Spectator, describing Tower’s stint as the co-owner and first chef of Berkeley’s nascent Chez Panisse, called him “the father of American Cuisine.”
Tower added that he was standing in the lobby of New York’s Bloomberg building with Anthony Bourdain to promote the documentary The Last Magnificent about his life as chef and what it took to become famous. A young and beginner culinary student came up to Tony and asked him what to do to become a famous TV chef. “Don’t,” he replied.
“Keep it simple,” Tower says of his rules to cook by. “That’s something all chefs should remember. For me, it’s always been ingredients, and that was what California cuisine and the revolution was, it was all about fresh ingredients, locally accessible ingredients, and treating them very simply.” With no tricks, no gimmicks, and no compromise in flavor or appearance, just honest techniques and the lessons of a lifetime of experience, Tower proves once again that the best food is the simplest food.
Tower is, as Anthony Bourdain says, “the bridge between the old world and the new.” He recently profiled the chef, restaurateur, and author in The Last Magnificent, a biographical documentary about one of the most controversial, outrageous and influential figures in the history of American gastronomy. “Jeremiah Tower’s menus made a complete re-evaluation of not just American food and ingredients—but food,” he said discussing Tower’s work.
“The thing that I deplore at the moment is the state of restaurant cooking. All around the United States everyone is doing the exact same thing. It’s like there is a list of “chic” ingredients everyone is told they have to use, and the plate presentations look exactly the same, because they’re all trying to get a Michelin star. Chefs should believe more in themselves and do what they want to do. It’s not just California—right now if you’re in Sydney, London or New York, the plates all look the same and I think that’s really boring,” Tower pointed out.
When he is not writing, Tower maintains an active schedule of presentations and demonstrations and scuba diving. The sharks there are friendlier than those in the kitchen.
Jeremiah Tower: Flavors of Taste is his tenth book. His honors include the James Beard Foundation: Best American Regional Cookbook, Regional Best Chef: California, James Beard National Outstanding Chef. He was named a patron of The Oxford Cultural Collective.
He has written a dozen books, including Jeremiah Tower’s New American Classics, Jeremiah Tower Cooks, California Dish, Start the Fire, and Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother.
Video trailer of The Last Magnificent https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Legzr_ED9R8
Jeremiah Tower: Flavors of Taste is a 300 page ebook , available through Amazon.com
Jeremiah Tower: Flavors of Taste is also available through Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo
From Flavors of Taste:
Ripe tomatoes remind me of a hot afternoon in Marrakesh in midsummer. I had wandered around trying to decide where to have lunch. No restaurant looked suitable: too crowded, too expensive, too empty, too everything. I walked back to my hotel outside the center of town, woke the owner, and he graciously explained that at three o’clock there is no food. I asked if I could use the kitchen, a request that so horrified him that, suddenly wide awake, he told me to sit in the garden. Half an hour later, he appeared with a bucket of ice studded with beer bottles dripping with condensation in the 110-degree heat, a bottle of olive oil, a plate of salt, a loaf of bread, and a huge platter of sliced tomatoes that he had just picked from the garden, and which smelled as if they were still ripening in the blazing summer heat. They were covered in chopped herbs and freshly ground pepper. I felt satisfied, and immensely privileged, like a prince in a tiny but momentarily perfect kingdom.
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick
½ cup best extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh basil, thyme, chives, and/or rosemary chopped
(whatever is fresh and available)
Slice the tomatoes about ½ inch thick, arrange and drizzle with olive oil. Dust with the chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Serve with French bread.