Michael Cimarusti has just rediscovered an old friend. "My wife and I just completed a kitchen renovation at home," he says. "Our lives have been in storage for the last seven months. While moving back into our kitchen I came across Taste of France.
I spent so much time with my nose in that book that now it's like spending time with an old friend."
Robert Freson's book, which dates from the 1970s, was reissued for its 25th anniversary in 2001. "It just has everything in it you could want to cook," Cimarusti says. "From something a grandma would be cooking in a French farmhouse up to something you'd find on the table of a 2-star Michelin restaurant. I've had the book for 20 years, and I've bought at least 5, 6, or 7 copies for young chefs or friends that are chefs."
When asked about a favorite recipe from the book, Cimarusti references a whole roast foie gras verjus. "I cooked it for Julia Child," he says. "She came in when I worked at Le Cirque, and I begged and begged the chef to let me cook this dish for her. He let me do it, which was pretty cool.
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"Whenever Julia would come in, it was tradition for the entire kitchen crew to go out to the dining room to say goodnight to her. We would all gather around the table and Sottha Khunn, Le Cirque's long-time chef de cuisine, would introduce us and Julia would comment on the meal. She loved the foie gras.
"You should get yourself a copy," Cimarusti says. "I swear you'll love it."
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