You’ve heard that Spanish cuisine is one hot item on the international culinary scene today. And you probably know that it’s served tapas-style, i.e., a series of small plates. And you’re aware that Spanish-themed tapas menus are a huge hit in the relative handful of U.S. restaurants that offer them. All you need now is someone who can tell you how Spanish cooking and tapas can be packaged into a formula that will take off in a restaurant like yours.
That’s asking a lot, but there is such a person: JosÈ AndrÈs. A protÈgÈ of Spanish superchef Ferran Adri‡; and proprietor of six restaurants in the Washington, DC area, AndrÈs is that rarest of combinations: a dedicated culinary artist with a strong entrepreneurial bent. If you want to learn how to make and sell tapas, there’s no better teacher. He knows how to make great tapas (he’s a James Beard Foundation Best Chef Mid-Atlantic) and he definitely knows how to sell them: Each of AndrÈs’ three DC-area Jaleo restaurants serves 5,000 customers a week.
He writes a mean cookbook, too. Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (Clarkson Potter; $35) is packed with information you’re just not going to find elsewhere. Since the book is all-tapas, it’s not arranged by menu categories. Instead, AndrÈs goes by ingredients—16 categories in all—with multiple recipes offered for each. The chapter on olives and olive oil has eight recipes, the one on tomatoes, six, 10 for cheese and eggs, and so on. We feel confident in saying that these are recipes most RH readers have never seen before.
Thrown in as a bonus is AndrÈs’ exposition on the fine ingredients available from Spain. However, he’s also free with advice on how to substitute U.S. ingredients to get an equivalent result on each recipe.
Is this book a guide to the future of the restaurant world? Could be. “Over the last 20 or 30 years, tapas, a tradition that started in Southern Spain, has spread across every region of the country and ultimately around the world,” AndrÈs writes. “Today it’s one of the most original ways of eating, a shared experience that is more sociable and more affordable than any fancy, sit-down restaurant.”
We’re betting this book will garner many awards at year’s end. Why not get in on the action now?
Speaking of great chefs who dominate key market niches, upscale steakhouse king David Walzog has come out with the ultimate guide on how you can elevate steakhouse fare to the highest possible level. His The New American Steakhouse Cookbook: It’s Not Just Meat and Potatoes Anymore (Broadway Books; $27.50) shares recipes for the many items Walzog has invented to spiff up the menus at Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse NYC, the Strip House and the Country Club Grill at the new Wynn Las Vegas.
Only eight pages, total, are devoted to cooking and serving steaks and chops. The other 206 are packed with recipes that produce sophisticated fare designed to put a contemporary spin on standard presentations. Most of these dishes have been battle-tested in New York City, the most competitive steakhouse market around. If you want to add one or a dozen “wow-factor” items to a typical steakhouse menu, this is your go-to book.