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NEW YORK (Reuters) - In his first cookbook, "Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking," celebrity chef and restaurateur Marc Murphy encourages the home cook to be bold, not bland.
The more than 130 recipes in the book offer classic comfort food, from coq au vin to deviled eggs, pointedly salted, spiced and herbed for fullest flavor.
"At home if I'm seasoning a steak before putting it on the grill people say to me, 'Wow that's a lot of seasoning,'" he said. "Well you have to season your food or it is not going to taste good."
Murphy, 46, was born in Milan, grew up in Europe and studied at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. His four New York restaurants include Landmarc and Ditch Plains.
Q: Did you always want to be a chef?
A: I came to it after high school. I didn't know what to do with myself and I didn’t want to be hungry. ... It found me; I didn't find it.
Q: Why did you call the book “Season with Authority?”
A: I feel home cooks can be too cautious with seasoning. Of course, you have to be careful not to go over that line, either.
Q: How can they find the balance?
A: Well, you've just got to keep cooking: practice, practice, practice.
Q: What are your chief influences?
A: Sylvain Portay, a chef at Le Cirque when I worked there, used to say if we season the food properly and send it out at the right temperature, we're ahead of most restaurants. For me that was inspirational. It's not that hard. It's just cooking.
Q: Does your book reflect the food in your restaurants?
A: My restaurants are neighborhood bistros. The food doesn't shock you. It's not standing up on its end when it comes out. It's just normal, good bistro food. I wanted to do a book that people will actually cook out of. There are no crazy ingredients. It's very accessible, like my restaurants.
Q: Any other tips for the home cook?
A: Cooking is a survival skill. We all have it, so move slowly and don't be scared. I think that's the main thing about cooking at home.
Q: What's in your pantry?
A: Salt and pepper and olive oil, Dijon mustard, sherry wine vinegar, capers, anchovies. Everything I'm mentioning is very strong in flavor. I like things that are going to make things pop.
Editing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Richard Chang