04 November 2017

Weekend Cooking: Wd-50 by Wylie Dufresne

Review: Wd-50 by Wylie DufresneDid you know that Anthony Bourdain had his own imprint over at Ecco Books? Well he does, and his list brings attention to great chefs, great restaurants, great food, and cutting-edge culinary trends.

Wylie Dufresne's Wd-50 (named after his now-closed restaurant) is a book that embraces all four focus points.

Who is Dufresne? He's a James Beard Award-winning, Michelin-Star chef who is known for his innovative style of cooking. Some may call it molecular gastronomy, but as the chef himself notes, his style of cooking is not so much "mad scientist in the kitchen but "look what cooking can be."

Wd-50 is full of gorgeous photographs that show off the chef's incredible creativity and talent. Although I know I'll never cook from this book, I enjoyed reading about the art (pretty much literally) of plating, Dufresne's stand against salad, the yeas and nays of eating bread before the meal, how to make cubes out of Hollandaise sauce and noodles out of tofu, and the trick of creating edible eggshells, which are formed around balloons.

Review: Wd-50 by Wylie DufresneI love mix of fun and sophistication of Defrensne's dishes (see the photos; click to enlarge): The fried eggs in the skillets are made from carrots and a coconut-based puree. The little bagel is really a kind of frozen concoction similar to ice cream. The gorgeous brown ribbon dish is chicken liver pate with melon cubes, pickled onion, and more.

Finally, the chef's take on the s'more is much more complex than it looks: The marshmallow is formed from meringue ice cream; the flavors in one sauce are black current and mezcal; standing in for the candy bar are bitter chocolate with chili, crispy chocolate, and ganche; the base is a modern take on graham crackers; and the edible stick is made from beer. Each element is carefully layered and placed on the plate, giving us a very grownup version of a campfire favorite.

As I said, I will not be cooking from this book, but I absolutely loved reading it. Dufresne's style is friendly and personal and I almost believe I could pull off one or two of his tricks. Alas, I'm a lazy cook at heart, but I bet if you had the resources and were willing to invest in the uncommon ingredients you too could transform food into delicious works of art.

My recommendation is to borrow Wd-50 from the library. After you've had a chance to read all the techniques Wylie Dufresne has so generously shared, you can decide how far you're willing to walk down the path to becoming a kitchen scientist. For more on Wylie Dufresne, see this interview with GQ.

Photos: The photos were scanned from an advanced reader's copy provided by the publisher (Ecco Books) and are used here in the context of a review. All rights remain with the original copyright holder, likely photographer Eric Medsker.

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

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(Diane) bookchickdi 11/4/17, 8:16 AM  

I first saw Wylie on an episode of Top Chef and was mesmerized by his cooking. I agree, I couldn't do it either, but it sure is interesting.

Jackie McGuinness 11/4/17, 8:25 AM  

There are some amazing Australian chefs who do incredible stuff like this. My husband just rolls his eyes and says "just give me the food".

Anonymous,  11/4/17, 8:42 AM  

This sounds fascinating but probably not for my kind of cooking. The plates do look beautiful~

rhapsodyinbooks 11/4/17, 8:49 AM  

I agree it's fun to read some cookbooks even if you never intend to make or eat anything in them. I have also enjoyed food memoirs with recipes that are like that.

jama 11/4/17, 9:11 AM  

Thanks for the intro to Dufresne. I'll take your advice and look for Wd-50 at the library.

Claudia 11/4/17, 11:08 AM  

Yes, for the library! Some of those tricky dishes would be perfect for a Halloween party. Fun to imagine.

Deb in Hawaii 11/4/17, 12:32 PM  

Great review! I used to love watching Wylie Dufresne on his appearances on Top Chef and Iron Chef and find his creativity and techniques fascinating so I definitely will be checking this book out. (Even if like you, I'm too lazy to actually cook like him!) ;-)

Vicki 11/4/17, 6:29 PM  

I agree that borrowing from the library is the way to go. Very interesting, but I wouldn't be trying it myself.

Tea 11/5/17, 3:58 PM  

The recipes pictured in the four squares look very appetizing. I love bagels.

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