Every year since 1991, the James Beard Foundation picks one chef, out of all the hundreds of thousands in America, to be its Outstanding Chef of the Year. The 22 chefs who've been selected in those years represent the titans of the food industry. Some have become TV celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers and others have been content to refine their craft and business at one stellar restaurant. But they're all remarkable cooks -- and have a lot to teach us.
If you want to learn from them, you could go out and buy cookbooks by, if not all, then most of the 22. Or you could buy one new cookbook -- The James Beard Foundation's "Best of the Best," released this week -- that includes several recipes by all but one. (Jose Andres entered the pantheon too late to be included, so you'll just have to buy one of his books if you want to duplicate the great food at places like Jaleo and minibar.)
"Best of the Best" commemorates the 25th birthday of the James Beard Foundation. It features, in addition to the recipes, profiles and pictures of the first 21 winners of the Outstanding Chef award.
One of the best reasons to investigate the book, which is written by Kit Wohl and has a foreword by Martha Stewart, is Susie Cushner's ravishing photos of these master chefs' iconic dishes. Need proof? Click through below for eight of our favorite pictures from the book.
Excerpt used with permission was taken from "The James Beard Foundation’s Best of the Best: A 25th Anniversary Celebration of America’s Outstanding Chefs published by Chronicle Books" (March 7, 2012; $60.00 U.S). Text copyright 2011 by Kit Wohl for the James Beard Foundation; photographs copyright 2011 by Susie Cushner.