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February 16, 2008

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Mark

I love when shows or books use science to explain cooking techniques. It's nice to know exactly what you are doing.

Something else I like in a book is a good diagram. Whether it is for a process, technique or even a detailed meat sectioning chart, they are much easier to follow than photos.

One thing I absolutely hate is when a show host or a book is written in such a manner that it comes off as pretentious. That's a big turn off.

Amy

Hi Michael,
My husband and I are newlyweds currently looking for a home on the west side and would be very interested in learning more about your place. I have to say I've already seen your kitchen on the Rutkowski site and it is quite a DREAM...amazing! Thanks!

TomH

What I would like to see:

- more instruction
- less cheap cleavage shots

If you're in the kitchen, instruct us on your technique. Plus, you're famous for the offal, how about discussing the ingredients and why they are included? What do they bring to the dish? How to select them?

Basically, the hows and whys, not the toothy grin, the giggles, or soft porn.

And bring your real personality to the game.

Maybe I'm asking too much for a TV show.

GO BROWNS.

Paul DeLuca

Welcome to the east side! Be sure to have your passport stamped when you cross the Cuyahoga. Looking forward to the book and more on the show as well.

As far as shows and books go, I think your biggest challenge is going to be defining your target market. It seems to me that you've got two groups: those who want to recipes and those who want to learn about cooking. Recipes are great, although seemingly ubiquitous these days--and of course you have to include those because everyone wants to know how to cook your food--but I think one of the most educational things you could do would be to help people learn to create great food by NOT following a recipe. Certain recipes are great because they work and you like them, and you sitck to them fanatically. But chefs and good cooks know that recipes are also guidelines that can be great starting points for new ideas. A book or show that educates people about selecting ingredients, pairings/combinations, and techniques--particularly in the area of intensifying flavors--would be appealing.

I enjoy Beard's American Cookery because he talks about the food, its history, and how the recipes evolved. James Peterson's books educate through illustration and demonstration. Alton Brown does a little of all of that. Too many books and shows tell you what to do, with only a little how, but I want to really know how and I want a healthy dose of why, too.

I think it boils down to this: I think people would be interested in learning the most important things you've learned about cooking and food. I think this includes, but goes beyond, "tips and tricks". It's imparting to the rest of us--in ways we can use and benefit from--the knowledge and experience that makes you a great chef.

Joseph Hall

Cooking shows: Less Emeril, less Ina, definitely less Sandra Lee. More Alton, more Bourdain. I want to know about food. I want to know the science, I want to know how to cook it, I'm even interested in the history and culture. I'm not interested in hearing about how "this is Jeffery's favorite dish" every show, or how this dish is perfect for my little garden party. I don't watch cooking shows to feel good about what my cooking would be like if I ever got off my ass; I watch them to become a better cook.

Books: I never make recipes exactly the way they are in the book. Just about the only time I follow a recipe exactly is when I'm in a professional kitchen. I want to know enough about the recipe that I can tweak with it to my liking. Sometimes a photo is enough inspiration for me, but it's also nice to learn new techniques. Books that just have recipes and no background are for little old church ladies.

Wow. I hope I don't seem bitter. I didn't mean to.

Barzelay

I hate it when cooking shows or books talk about how quick and easy something is. If I wanted easy, I'd be watching Rachel Ray, or else just microwaving some processed foods. I want GOOD, and that usually means some effort and time. So don't skimp on the good stuff just because it isn't easy. And by the way, that also means not skimping on discussing the "extras," i.e. sauces, garnishes, plating, drink pairings...

Also, lots of cooking advice fails before people even reach their grocery store checkout line. Even if I find a great meat market or grocery that will sell me tripe, pork belly, or beef heart, I still can't pick which will be better out of two pieces of tripe. For someone like me, it's like selecting a steak without being able to see the marbling. So let us know how to shop.

And finally, I want to see the failures. When you fuck something up on TV, don't scrap the take. Show it! And if it's fixable, show how you fix it. And that means not acting like every finished recipe is the best thing you've ever had. Recipes are fluid, and should be improved over time. After you taste it, tell us what you'd do differently in the future, or what other directions you might explore with the dish.

Richard

Please don't do silly skits ala Alton Brown or Bobby Flay.

jayedee

recipes (and gratuitous cleavage shots) are a dime a dozen......all you have to do is type in www and viola! recipes! tell me about the food! the technique! all the whys and wherefores of what makes a dish great.

JoP in Omaha

What exciting news on all fronts, Chef!

Your current kitchen is for sale? Awesome. (Forget the reset of the house, it's the kichen I want, sight unseen.) If only.....

A book! I've been so hoping you'd do a book, I'm happy to know one is on the drawing board. With Ruhlman and Donna participating, this will undoubtedly be right up my alley. Donna's photos are amazing. Ruhlman writes with passion. You cook with passion. I love it already.

You'll get lots of differing opinions about what a book should be; in the end, you'll have to do what you envision. Let your point of view about food shine through.

As a beginning home cook, I would hope for a book that inpsires me, that teaches me, and that contains recipes I can do. They don't need to be basic and simple, though. Challenge me, make me reach, but not so far that I wil fail. I think an important consideration is to use ingredients that can be found in a typical grocery store. Specialty ingredients often make a dish un-do-able.

And a pitch to the FN. Oh, hurray! I've been wishing for another show from you. What I don't like....please, not another travelogue showing me cool restaurants across the world. What good does it do for me to learn there's a great place to eat in Thailand?

I love to watch you cook, but you want to "break from the usual format of chef behind counter cooking food." Hmm.....is there a way you cook withoug being behind the counter cooking food? I hope so.

FN definitely needs a new approach, something fresh. I'm certain you'll bring that, so best of luck with your pitch. I certainly hope it comes to be.

Awesome, Chef! Great news.

Mitch

I think you have a good perspective on ethnic food. It's pretty silly watching Ina Garten make 'oaxacan zingy guacamole,' but I have a feeling it'd be different coming from you. More respectful of the origin, maybe.

I also think it'd be great to have another voice (besides Bourdain's) saying how much it sucks to kill animals, but how fun it is to eat them.

Stuff about veggies? Exotic ingredients and where to find them? 'Don't be scared of the halaal grocery store, they have the best lamb you'll be able to find'?

Stuff like that.

Chef Bill Bailey

Great job on Good Company on Friday.
Good luck with the new house. I'm looking forward to the new book deal, and the new TV show. I wish I was ready to buy a house, I'd buy yours.

James from Savannah

I think the best recipes are usually the ones that use the simplest ingredients and the simplest kitchen equipment. Gourmet does not have to mean so difficult that I can't find the ingredients or a suitable substitution at my local Kroger.

I prefer a lot of pictures in my cookbooks. I have a Jacques Pepin cooking technique book that is a step by step bible.

I also think that wine/cocktail parings are a great idea.

For your TV show-the best thing about Bourdain is his honesty. Not everything tried is the best thing in the world--if you don't like something say so--or once in a while put down a technique or piece of equipment (like goddamn garlic presses--who would use those besides my wife?).

meridith

things i love about cooking shows:
the shot in film look as opposed to the fuzzy soap opera set feel.
a show that is more than a chef standing there....one like anthony bourdain or even $40/day where they go out and meet the people....shop for foods and explain how to select the right ingredients...tell the stories behind things like alton brown.
a show that has a balance between things i could realistically cook on a wed night after a long day of work and things so amazing i could never cook it myself but i love to watch someone else do it.
all time fav shows: great chefs that used to be on PBS,anthony bourdain, barefoot contessa, $40/day, the old paula deen shows, unwrapped, good eats and feasting on asphalt, 2 guys catering, naked chef, nigella bites, ace of cakes, old school 80's show where they brought celebrities in to make their fave recipes, julia child, martha stewart, food network challenges, gordon elliot's doorknock dinners

things i hate on a cooking show:
pepper cleavage, italian cleavage, evoo cleavage....what is up with the food network and cleavage? my husband pointed this out, i'm not worried about that on your show. :) just sayin..
where every episode is just a cook behind a counter rattling on
annoying hosts

things i love in a good cookbook:
amazing food that i want to cook, gorgeous photography, step by step directions, stories and content with the recipes

things i hate in a cookbook:
boring food, no photos, poorly written recipes with no other content included

Mike

I like Alton Brown's cooking show and Jamie Oliver's. I want to learn something as well as be entertained.

Regarding cookbooks, I think Into the Vietnamese Kitchen is fantastic. Nice photos, good explanations, a wide arrange of recipes, and most importantly for me, you learn something about the food and its cultural, historical, and personal context.

meridith

things i love about cooking shows:
the shot in film look as opposed to the fuzzy soap opera set feel.
a show that is more than a chef standing there....one like anthony bourdain or even $40/day where they go out and meet the people....shop for foods and explain how to select the right ingredients...tell the stories behind things like alton brown.
a show that has a balance between things i could realistically cook on a wed night after a long day of work and things so amazing i could never cook it myself but i love to watch someone else do it.
all time fav shows: great chefs that used to be on PBS,anthony bourdain, barefoot contessa, $40/day, the old paula deen shows, unwrapped, good eats and feasting on asphalt, 2 guys catering, naked chef, nigella bites, ace of cakes, old school 80's show where they brought celebrities in to make their fave recipes, julia child, martha stewart, food network challenges, gordon elliot's doorknock dinners

things i hate on a cooking show:
pepper cleavage, italian cleavage, evoo cleavage....what is up with the food network and cleavage? my husband pointed this out, i'm not worried about that on your show. :) just sayin..
where every episode is just a cook behind a counter rattling on
annoying hosts

things i love in a good cookbook:
amazing food that i want to cook, gorgeous photography, step by step directions, stories and content with the recipes

things i hate in a cookbook:
boring food, no photos, poorly written recipes with no other content included

Brad Bellomo

If you are looking for ideas, here are some things I would really look forward to. Almost everything in this list I have tried with serious effort and limited success.

I really liked the lobster version of your Gnocchi at Lola. If you won't give away the recipe, can you at least tell how to make the Gnocchi?

How you smoke food, especially seafood, at Lola? Is it at all practical to do at home?

I am a big fan of your beef cheek pierogie. If you won't give up the recipe, can we see something on working with beef cheek?

Your beef barley consumme was the highlight of my last Lola trip. This inspired me to make some really good beef consumme, but it wasn't the same.

I have also tried to make braised lamb shank, Lola fries and the various versions of Lola butter.

Of course, I will buy your book (probably several copies for friends and family too) and watch your show no matter what you do.

lux

FN cooks I like -- Nigella, Jamie Oliver, and the Barefoot Contessa. Here's why: They all make interesting food, understand the limitations of a home kitchen, don't insult the viewer's intelligence, and come off as real people on-screen.

Alton Brown can be very hit-or-miss. Sometimes he's fantastic (his episode on spices is an essential), other times he goes overboard on the cheesy skits or makes something that should be easy (apple pie, for example) much, much too complicated.

Any book you & the Ruhlmans do is likely to be fantastic, I hope you come on out to the SF Bay Area on your book tour so I can get a signed copy!

I would love a house with a pimped out kitchen, but Cleveland's a bit of a commute from California.....

joe jessen

I'm more than pleased to see a fellow Edsman having such success. Best to you and your staffs for many more years of the same.

Regarding suggestions, I have but one: be yourself. You are at once great at what you do, and an apparently very likeable person. Both will serve to support the rousing success of books or television.

As for the commentators who feel the need to criticize so completely the "non-chef" Food Network programs, I would hope that you recognize your comparison of "apples to oranges". The shows about which you complain have their place and their audiences, too - and loyal. Additionally, there is nothing bad about a programs hostess being (presumeably) a nice person, and inventive cook and entertainer, and fine as frog hair split four ways.

Anyway, Michael, I am looking forward to what will come, in print or otherwise as well as to dinner tonight on E. 4th!

Pilar

Good luck with all the new year's challenges!
I'm kind of sorry that the FN was chosen as a possible outlet for your show. I guess it's expected, what with IC and all but they sure know how to ruin a chef/personality; once someone seems to generate some viewership, they're immediately put into overdrive and quickly become caricatures of themselves. (Hi Rach, Paula, Emeril, et al.) I want more shows like Lidia's, Jacques, Rick Bayless, even Daisy's. Learn your limits and if you don't naturally make, say enchiladas with cream of mushroom soup, but, because it's the end of the 5th season and this is your 3rd concurrent series, don't do it!!! Similarly, don't become like Ina and keep showing variations of the same, tired menu. (Roast chicken, grain salad side and cooked fruit dessert anyone?) If you've shown us all you know and love, move on. I don't like travel shows and I don't enjoy the host watching others cook. (Sorry, Mark B.) Just rent out that smokin' kitchen from whomever buys your place and cook, man!
The most important thing about a cookbook is that it must be written in your voice. Nigella and Lidia are great examples. People in Cleveland are more impressed with Ruhlman than I am...I'd hate to read the book and hear him instead of you. Pictures are necessary but I like detailed shots of the finished product...seeing an artfully arranged pile of ingredients or a single egg or similar doesn't impress me (as much as it does the photographer). Waste of precious space.
Thanks for sharing all your fun with us!

Nicole

Chef,

Congratulations on all the new year has brought you! Between new house, new show, and new book, you have a lot of blessings and maybe curses. But like the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. What I would like to see in your show and book have been mentioned already--the science and history behind the food, how to pick the best food at the store, how to follow a technique more than a recipe . . . pretty much giving us a culinary school education for the cost of cable TV. Only in America, right? :)

Those are quite high expectations, I agree. But in essence, give us what we would learn if we spent the day with you--creating, shopping, cooking, eating, and enjoying the food. Think of it like your own cooking school to the world.

Something else to think about . . .maybe giving us recipes that you cook at Lola and Lolita as well as at home, or even recipes you grew up with--you must have tried to tinker with pierogi and galobki (i.e. stuffed cabbage rolls) and other Eastern European favorites. I realize you're known for dipping into the Mediterranean side of your family for technique and inspiration, but some of us really want to find ways to jazz up the Eastern European comfort foods. Just a thought from a girl who is a European melting pot--Polish, Hungarian, Irish, German, and English--who also has an adventurous culinary streak. :)

md symon

amy...u can email me at michael@lolabistro.com about the house..thx, michael

thx everyone for all the great comments and ideas!!

Kathy

I like shows that demonstrate actual cooking, not merely traveling around the country eating other peoples' food. And the cooking shouldn't be afraid to take a couple hours in real time - lord knows we've all had enough of Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee.

As for cookbooks, I like when they are written in the voice of chef himself, rather than a generic one. I also like nice color photos because it helps to know what the finished dish should look like.

Wilmita

Love cooking shows that make me want to dive through the screen and eat the food.

Lidia Maticchio Bastianich absolutely does that to me and Daisy Martínez because she does Latin food.

I have tried quite a few of Lidia's recipes after watching her show because just I couldn't take it anymore! HAD to have what she was cooking! Very few cooking shows move me to that level.

If your new show impels me to get up, go to the market and make the food you prepared because I cannot wait another minute, go for it. That happened to me when you published your Brussel Sprouts recipe.

"Make You Wanna Holler", staring Michael Symon has a good ring to it.

Cookbooks, photos are key. One of the most beautiful cookbooks I own is "Cooking With The Seasons" by Jean-Louis Palladin. I got it after I took a cooking class with him and it's signed. God rest his soul. That man could cook!

Good luck at The James Beard Awards in June.

Wilmita

Sandy

Hey, awesome news.

Couple answers: I hate it when the chef or writer talks down to their audience -- whether its fellow foodies or regular folk. While it may not make me leave forever, it can make me less likely to check back in regularly. I don't see you having much problem with this one. :)

I really hate the recent copycat thing that's the been going on with the Food Network. If its a rehash of someone else's show... please, don't do it, and dont let them do it to you.

What I love about shows and books: I love it when the chef or writer loves what they do so much they bring us into whatever they are doing. You do this naturally I think when you're cooking; it comes through on camera. Ruhlman's been able to take me there with his writing more than once, so I think you're in excellent hands there.

Best of luck with all of these things!

LosGatosGirl

I agree with most everything everyone has written...inspire me. Tell me real stories. Bring the food to life. I loved Alton's Coq Au Vin episode...it inspired me to make it. And I had fun doing it.

Tony...well, I'd not cook much of what he eats, but he tells great stories about the culture of the food.

Throwdown with Bobby cracks me up. He shows a basic recipe and then how to be playful with it. I wish they'd expand that more. It's like Bach's Inventions or Mozart's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (sorry, music lovers, i'm too lazy to google to get the right name)

Thomas Keller's book on the French Laundry (thank you mr. ruhlman) inspired me to believe that I really could cook some of those delicacies. I haven't tried, but I'm inspired. And the stories of Thomas and the 12 rabbits stuck. I'll not look at my food the same way again.

Ok, and my two cats say that they want more cats on tv. They're tired of everyone having dogs. Cats love Cheezburgers, after all. LOL.

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