Chef Waxman shares passion for Italian cooking

Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:34am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - American chef Jonathan Waxman shares his passion for Italian food and distills its essence in his latest book, "Italian, My Way."

Since moving to New York from California in the 1980s he has adopted an Italian approach to his cooking. In 2003, he opened New York restaurant Barbuto, which is known for its rustic, robust dishes.

Waxman, 60, started his career in California where along with Alice Waters and others he pioneered the New American movement which uses classic French techniques to showcase local ingredients.

The northern Californian native spoke to Reuters about his new book, adapting an Italian sensibility and what makes Italian cooking special.

Q: What are your goals with this book?

A: "The first thing I wanted to do is to demystify a lot of the terminologies. The second is to keep it so realistic in terms of items in each dish that people didn't go crazy, and the third thing is talk about technique in a way that is really straight-forward. What we do in a restaurant is what I want to duplicate at home. And the last thing is that I think a lot of people have gotten goofy in how to make gnocchis, how to make pizzas, how to make Bolognese sauce. I hope I give them a good road map on how to do them."

Q: The book's recipes are simple, but some people might still be resistant to try them. How would you persuade them to give them a try?

A: "It's a comfort zone, and I totally get that. I want this book to get them out of their comfort zone a little bit. I want to give them the road map, the plan, the grid to get to the store to buy the ingredients, then come home and cook them without getting them too much out of their comfort zone. That's a really important thing to me."   Continued...

<p>American chef Jonathan Waxman is pictured in this undated handout. REUTERS/Christopher Hirsheimer/Handout</p>