You never really know what to expect when a publicist writes, tells you that a chef or a cookbook author is coming to town, and asks whether you could perhaps organize a dinner. You might find yourself selling cookbooks, or bugging local restaurants, or doing all manner of things that you later regret.
Or, you might find that you get to spend a wonderful dinner talking about food, blogging, Columbus, social media, more food, and everything under the sun, with someone as charming and interesting as Chef David Tanis.
Chef Tanis spends half of the year cooking at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and the other half in France—which makes him either one of the luckiest guys we know, or one of the smartest, or one of the most sought-after, or all three. His cookbooks—A Platter of Figs, and now, Heart of the Artichoke—are models of simplicity, doing honor to excellent ingredients while making artful and often sparing use of the best techniques.
He’s also an awfully, awfully nice guy.
After an excellent dinner at DeepWood, he insisted on heading down the road to sample the ice cream that all of us had raved about at Jeni’s. Completely by chance (we swear!), who should we spot at the bar at Rigsby’s but Jeni Britton-Bauer herself, who was more than happy to accompany us a block up the street and give Chef Tanis a personal, impromptu tour of her store.
One of our very favorite things is when we find really nice, really smart people who are willing to share their expertise… and getting two of them together put smiles on everyone’s faces.
On the way up the street, we got to talking turkey (Thanksgiving is coming, after all), and I mentioned that different people had weighed in with different techniques—smoking, deep frying, and so on. I was impressed that Chef Tanis recommended the deconstructed-turkey technique from his book. It may seem obvious that someone should stand behind his or her recipe, but too often, cookbook recipes represent shortcuts or compromises (“If you’re really going to do barbecue right, cook it for ten hours… but you won’t, so here’s a recipe for how to do it in three”). Without hesitation, he recommended exactly the recipe that he’d written in the book.
I’ve got my copy. Signed one, too. ’nuff said.