Six California Kitchens: A Collection of Recipes, Stories, and Cooking Lessons from a Pioneer of California Cuisine

Chronicle. Apr. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9781797208824. $35. COOKING
The late Schmitt (1932–2022) cofounded famed Napa County restaurant the French Laundry, whose farm-to-table ethos is credited with transforming food culture. This cookbook is a love letter to California cuisine and six of the kitchens Schmitt worked in (starting with her mother’s), paired with 115 total recipes—sure to inspire home cooks as well as buffs of American culinary history. Schmitt launched her career cooking in the Yountville, CA, restaurants the Vintage Café (1967–78) and the Chutney Kitchen (1970–78), before opening the French Laundry in 1978. After 15 years as chef of the French Laundry, she sold it to Thomas Keller and taught culinary classes at Apple Farm (1995–2008), before finally settling into retirement at Elk Cottage (2008–16). Alongside Schmitt’s kitchens are easy-to-follow recipes that highlight simple, fresh ingredients— from Schmitt’s first kitchen, a basic white sauce; from the French Laundry’s Friday dinners, steak tartare and Schmitt’s signature “Chocolate Chinchilla Topped with Sherry Cream”—all with charming commentary. The book also includes “Sally’s Pantry” (her list of must-have ingredients), forewords by Keller (who still runs the French Laundry) and Cindy Pawlcyn (who created Fog City Diner), and color photographs.
VERDICT Highly recommended for cooks who love a good story.
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