It's the passionate professional chef with a compulsion to explore whom we should thank for those extraordinary techniques and ideas that continually find their way into the home kitchen. Whether it's poaching in plastic or using vegetable waters instead of fat to enrich flavor, or new tricks with the inexpensive Japanese mandoline, professionals expand our horizons. And among his colleagues, Michel Richard is the chef's chef, the one others look to for inspiration. "Why didn't I think of that?" asks Thomas Keller, in his foreword to Happy in the Kitchen, about Richard's innovative technique. Michel Richard leads the way and always has—at his L.A. restaurants, Citrus and Citronelle, and now in Washington, D.C., at Michel Richard Citronelle and his newly opened Central. He never ceases to explore and his food never fails to satisfy.
Happy in the Kitchen is teeming with "Richard-esque" discoveries, whether it's an amazingly simple technique for dicing vegetables, a delicious [low-carb] carbonara made with onions rather than pasta, or a schnitzel made of pureed squid. He's playful—always—but also a perfectionist and an iconoclast. What can you say about a chef who makes risotto with potatoes, prefers frozen Brussels sprouts, and whips up spectacular chocolate pudding and béchamel in the microwave? A chef who doesn't shock blanched vegetables in ice water, but uses his freezer as though it were a fifth burner, and turns raspberries and almonds into "salami"?
Enamored of crispness, this master chef, who calls himself Captain Crunch, makes a potato gratin that is all crust and fries carrots until crisp. Always seeking to surprise, he stuffs onion shells and serves them as pasta, and he scrambles scallops and serves them as if they were eggs. But the surprise is not just in the form the ingredients take in each dish, but in the taste.
Richard offers recipes for the foods we love, but always looks for the twist that makes good things great—whether it's Lamburgers, Lobster Burgers, or Tuna Burgers, Turkey "Steak" au Poivre, or the chocolate reverie Michel calls Le Kit Cat. And with recipe titles such as Shrimp "Einstein," Jolly Green Brussels Sprouts, Chicken Faux Gras, Figgy Piggy, Chocolate Popcorn, and Happy Kid Pudding, Happy in the Kitchen lets you know you're in for good tastes and good times.
Every delicious moment is captured in glorious images of finished dishes, as well as exceptional step-by-step photographs that make easy work of slicing, dicing, shaping, and other essential hand skills. Happy in the Kitchen is a book that will make you laugh and learn, and it will delight you every step of the way.