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Whether Tyler Florence is cooking in his restaurants in San Francisco and Mill Valley, Calif., on TV or at home for his three kids, fresh ingredients are always on his mind. “It’s what California cuisine is all about,” says the 16-year Food Network veteran. “I always think about myself as a middleman, a translator of flavors who respects the produce.” Tyler’s newest cookbook, Tyler Florence Fresh, fully embraces this ingredient-driven mantra.
Tyler recently chatted with FN Dish about the book, sharing why it’s different from his previous seven cookbooks, his advice for home cooks, and the backstory behind the adorable chick perched atop his shoulder on the cover.
We’re giving away copies of Tyler Florence Fresh to three lucky Dish readers. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Tell us: What’s your favorite winter produce and why?
Want a sneak peek? Check out three recipes from the book and read on for our Q&A with Tyler.
- Smoky Roasted Chicken and Citrus Salsa
- Roasted Cauliflower With Anchovy, Capers and Fresh Thyme
- Rocky Road Chocolate Mousse
What makes Tyler Florence Fresh a departure from the other cookbooks you’ve written?
With this book, I’m taking a look at the other side of the coin. Creating books and recipes really focused on dinner that you can make tomorrow night with family and friends has been a core connection that I’ve had with the Food Network audience for 16 years. I’m also a classically trained restaurant chef, so this cookbook shows what we produce on an artistic, high-end level. A lot of these dishes are on the menus at our restaurants. They’re restaurant-caliber, but they’re not difficult. They’re just clean. I think if you can tackle some smart techniques, you don’t need that many tricks. This has taken me a lot longer than other books; I think it shows.
What’s your process like when you’re developing recipes for a cookbook?
The process of creating a flavor profile is taking a look at one particular idea. Say it’s pumpkin, or butternut squash. I’m thinking, what can I do with it that’s interesting, compelling and also really easy? It’s a joyous process. The recipes have a clear message and an ease of use that people have come to know from my previous books.
The pictures in the book are gorgeous. Are your family meals at home this beautiful?
When I make scrambled eggs for my kids, I style them. Those are the images in my head. We introduce our kids to fresh vegetables every single day. It’s not always popular — sometimes things get raked into the bowl for our chicken coop.
Is there a recipe that you’d recommend to novice cooks — those who might be intimidated by a restaurant chef’s cookbook?
There are points of graduation throughout the book. There are lots of really great techniques to give people confidence in the kitchen. These recipes are tested down to the absolute grain of salt. Make the whole thing and you will look like a rock star, but you could also break down the components and just make the basic recipe. That’s great too. If you’re going to make one recipe, it’s got to be the Smoky Roasted Chicken. It’s all about the acid. It’s not chicken with mash and gravy — which is good, but a calorie bomb. This takes a fresh, crisp, clean direction. It’s just a fireworks show in your mouth.
What’s the story behind the baby chick pictured on the cover with you? That must have been a fun shoot.
Her name is Rosa and she lives with us. She’s one of five chickens in our backyard. She’s happy laying eggs out there right now. Instead of chicken feed, we take out any scraps from dinner and that’s what they eat. They’re very happy and laying about a dozen eggs a week.
You can order a copy of Tyler’s new cookbook here, or enter a comment below for a chance to win one. Tell us: What’s your favorite winter produce and why?
You may only comment once to be considered and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S. states, D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 to win. For the first day of the giveaway, all entries (answers) must be entered between 3:00 p.m. EST on December 13 and 12 p.m. EST on December 17, 2012. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of each prize: approx. $35. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a Food Network, 9721 Sherrill Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37932.