A Year at The French Cafe
The famous Auckland restaurant The French Cafe has long been the epitome of excellence. The service is exemplary, the atmosphere cossetted and refined yet convivial, and the food ... well, the food is nothing short of heavenly.
Met with both public and critical acclaim The French Café has won Cuisine’s restaurant of the year award twice, Metro’s restaurant of the year award six times, and the Lewisham Awards judged Simon Wright ‘most outstanding chef’ in 2003, 2006 and 2010. Just to top that off, Tripadvisor users have just voted it the best restaurant in New Zealand and the South Pacific and fourth best in the world.
Husband and wife team Simon Wright (chef) and Creghan Molloy-Wright (front of house) have woven magic here ever since they took the restaurant over in in 1999. Simon still works tirelessly in the kitchen, keeping a tight rein on the menu.
This gorgeous book transports you into the world of The French Café. Whether you want to recreate your favourite recipes or just sit back and admire, Simon Wright walks readers through the experience of diners at the restaurant — your mouth will be watering and your stomach rumbling before you have even reached the beautiful photographs of the food.
The recipes unfold through seasons, and in his opening essay Simon discusses how he feels food should be eaten: seasonal, local and fresh. Explains Simon, ‘that’s why the word ‘saison’ seems such a fitting title for my second book — not only as a salute to my classic French training but also as a reference to the way I plan my menus throughout the year. It’s the one word that describes the discipline that is the thought process behind my food’.
Simon’s food philosophy is integral to both the book and the restaurant. As Simon says, ‘there is no question that to be an individual in this business your restaurant has to be a reflection of your own personality, thoughts and ideas. And as that changes, so does the restaurant.’
Saison explores Simons’ cooking style, his way of working and his journey as a chef, watching the evolution of cooking techniques and trends as well as changes in food production. ‘I have gone through all the trends: from the era in which waiters served the food from platters at the table, through the nouvelle cuisine phase (during which food lost its soul for a time), to the super-star-chef years and molecular gastronomy up to where we are today, a period in which cuisine, I’m happy to argue, is finally in balance with how we live our lives. There’s a more natural approach; the simplicity and quality of the ingredients are allowed to shine through.’
Many recipes are complex so Simon understands that most people will not try to reproduce all of them. ‘If nothing else, I want you to read this book, be inspired and take elements from one recipe and piece it together with another. I want you to grow in confidence with your cooking, to taste, feel, understand and develop through trial and error.’
Following on from Simon’s first book, The French Café Cookbook, this second cookbook showcases his glorious approach to food and his respect for the seasons in which ingredients are at their peak. Lavishly produced and beautifully illustrated with photographs by Charlie Smith and watercolours by Kirsten Roberts this handsome book is the next best thing to dinner at The French Cafe!
Random House NZ
12 November 2014
Hardback with slip case