Generally speaking, the cookbooks that are spawned by popular TV series are not necessarily collections of culinary greatness – largely because most regular TV series are not really food and cooking oriented. Bravo’s Top Chef is a big exception to this rule, as it is a regular TV show more than it is a food network-style cooking show but it happens to be all about cooking. The show is in its 4th season right now and the creators have decided to turn their popular online recipe archive into a cookbook.
Top Chef: The Cookbook has two main components: recipes and background on the chefs. It includes the cooks from seasons 1 through 3, as well as the judges, and gives some great background on each of them. The recipes are divided up by course and by type: appetizers, entrees: meat, entrees: poultry, entrees: fish, entrees: vegetarian and dessert. As an aside from the cookbook, fans of the show will probably find it a bit funny that there is an actual dessert chapter, since the chefs on the show do not usually excel in that area and spend quite a lot of time reminding each other and the cameras that they are not bakers.
I love all the background included in this book, from the intro by Top Colicchio to the snippets of interviews with the show’s producers and execs. It provides some fun detail on how the show is put together and what people’s reactions to it are. The recipes in the cookbook are from both the quickfire challenges and the regular challenges. On each, the season and show number are noted. There is some nice food photography, but unlike other cookbooks, you’ll probably be a bit more motivated to choose some to make based on favorites ( I am!), rather than being heavily influenced by the beautiful shots alone.