15 Recipes Inspired by Cooking Across Japan is an introduction to the forthcoming series of books by Del Cook and collaborators. The book offers multiple recipes covering several cooking methods that gives a glimpse into an approach to cooking that elevates both flavors and textures while at the same time reduces fat and calories. Cooking for 25 years in top tier kitchens across the globe including 14 in Japan has given him great insight into the best ways to learn to cook well. The basic principal visible throughout the series is that it is better to learn one skill and practice it over and over than to attempt a variety of new skills all at once. It is for this reason that the each book in the series will focus on one specific cooking method and teach variations of it throughout the book. In this way the cook will master the method and can then apply that skill expertly to the ingredients they have available locally. In essence it mirrors the way top kitchens operate but applies in ways that are practical for the busy home cook.
A secondary benefit of this method is that it encourages the cook to adapt the skill to their environment and season. Contrast this to many books that offer a snapshot of a time and place that probably doesn’t apply to most buyers of the book. Rather than insist on using hard to find ingredients that make recipes difficult to challenging to replicate, our series will encourage the cook to learn a technique well and apply it to ingredients of their choosing. It is a highly workable method that encourages engagement and ultimately will allow the cook to express their creative passions through cooking.
In the 15 Recipes cookbook recipes for home dining like steamed Rice, Soups, Stews, Burgers, Salads and Dessert are introduced. The planned series will cover an even broader range of cooking methods to be released over the coming years. We think offering these books by single cooking method help the cook focus on improving specific cooking skills in a manageable way just as a professional cook would do. The best part will be the delicious food that will add daily pleasures and the satisfaction that comes with leading a healthy lifestyle.
To highlight what to expect let’s take soup as an example. The book will begin with an introduction to the importance of how and where you should source ingredients, good storage practices and important equipment that will be used in the book. Next, the book will detail the method of cooking great soups, laying out each step logically with a series of photos and. This will be the blueprint for each book to be referred back to in all of the recipes. In the case of soup there will be 3 basic methods to learn: clear soups like consommé , chunky soups like minestrone and smooth or pureé soups. Naturally the cook can choose a method to learn and then follow the links to the recipe they want to do. The reverse will also hold true and in this way take advantage of the e-book technology to make the book more flexible to the reader’s choices. That will form the front section of the book and be the reference point of all recipes.
The bulk of the book will be a series of recipes divided by season to encourage the cook to choose ingredients that are at their peak. This is a most important step in cooking because it is always the ingredient quality that makes the dish. Of course ingredients are best when in season. Next, the recipes themselves will follow a minimalist layout designed to both focus and inspire. One photo for ingredients and one for the the final dish. Some might be startled that the technical photos lie in a different part of the book but is for good reason we choose to use this method. Cooking is a craft that has two aspect to it – one technical and the other creative (some may say artistic). The point is they occupy different parts of the cooking process and our experience shows that separation is beneficial at least until the technical part has been mastered.
Del Cook has been a prominent figure on the global food scene since becoming a chef in 1993. He has extensive experience working in both urban and rural cooking environments across the world from Montreal to HongKong and Tokyo. In 2002 he embarked on an eleven year project in rural Japan near Kyoto where his reputation for championing local farmers and artisans grew. The Nosé Project was based around a French restaurant perched on a mountainside full of chestnut, persimmon and fig trees. The glorious view from the dining room window was like a seasonally changing landscape painting with its focal point anchored by the rice field filled valley below. Together with the restaurant was a pottery studio in which porcelain ceramics were crafted exclusively for the restaurant by Chieko Ueno. Gourmands from all across Japan were drawn to the terroir focused food served in one of a kind pottery. Del was regularly featured in magazines and television shows across the country in recognition for both the unique qualities of his food and leadership in promoting local farmers and craftsman. The restaurant’s use of produce from village farmers and artisans like the Tajima beef farmer, old-growth chestnut & shitake grower and stone-clay potter contributed positively to the growth of the local farmer’s market by drawing national attention to the quality of their work.
Since arriving in Japan Del has spent time in the very best kitchens working alongside Japanese chefs just as he worked together with French chefs in Montreal & Toronto. Through this process he has developed an extensive understanding of both the technical skills and kitchen tools needed to craft high quality food from both a Western and Japanese perspective. By the late 2000’s, Del began writing about his food experiences in detail. Seeking a broader understanding of the ways to cook food that is both highly flavorful and healthy he embarked on a lengthy study of the history of cooking across the globe. The cumulation of this research along with extensive conversations with Japanese and French chefs and craftsmen lead Del to sketch out a series of kitchen knives and tools that would combine the artisan craftsmanship of the past with newly emerging technologies for the future.
In 2014 Del began creating a new brand to represent this vision which he called Kikusumi. Kikusumi represents both the past and future of cooking with a series of exclusive knives and kitchen tools designed for cooks with passion. The knives will include a series for the home cook along with a limited edition range for the professional or connoisseur of quality knives. Each product is a result of a lengthy design process that is then carried out by a select group of top tier manufacturers with the tradition and technology required to deliver high quality to consumers.
Kikusumi brand was launched in 2016 and will continue to grow its family of kitchen products and educational lifestyle books to inspire cooks across the globe.
Cook with Passion.