Josef Centeno is the chef-owner of four acclaimed restaurants in downtown Los Angeles: Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston and Ledlow. Josef's tasting menus at a restaurant called Opus in Koreatown were famously groundbreaking: you could order as many courses as you wanted for $10 each. And when he opened Lazy Ox in Little Tokyo, it was the first restaurant that shifted critical attention to downtown Los Angeles. Betty Hallock is a food writer who formerly was an editor in the LA Times' award-winning Food section. As deputy food editor and a founding editor of the Daily Dish blog, she helped direct food and drink coverage, writing and editing stories about restaurants, cooking, cocktails, business trends, and more.
Downtown Los Angeles restaurateur and chef Centeno shares dishes inspired by his five Historic Core neighborhood restaurants: Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, and P.Y.T. The 130 bold, nontraditional recipes here, based on Centeno's Texas upbringing, are organized by flavors and textures. One chapter on flavors ("Spicy/Salty/Pickled/Preserved") features 45 condiments ("windows into cooks' souls"), such as minty pickled red onions with dried rosebuds, dressings of sunflower-miso tahini or limey-fish-sauce vinaigrette, and fresh cheese and yogurt. In another chapter ("Earthy/Sharp/Velvety/Savory"), sweet potatoes are mixed with aonori mascarpone butter, feta, and honey; another recipe is for an Italian-Armenian hybrid of pork belly with sujuk spices over hand-torn pasta. "Flaky/Fruity/Caramely/Tart" showcases desserts such as Middle Eastern-inspired pistachio cheesecake topped with matcha sugar and flakey threads of kataifi pastry. The recipe for Centeno's signature baco (a taco flatbread) is included, and vegetables take center stage in many recipes. Essays reflect Centeno's personal philosophy, from which this vibrant cuisine emerged, and jumbo-size photos show Centeno's kaleidoscopic culinary techniques. Centeno's exciting debut cookbook offers an impressive portrait of a chef who believes "taste is tantamount" and that options are unlimited. (Sept.) Josef Centeno, chef-owner of five acclaimed restaurants in downtown Los Angeles, comes from mixed heritage--Mexican, Spanish, Irish, French, English, German and Polish. Drawing upon these influences--and others--Centeno's vibrant culinary creations form unusual pairings that layer flavor. Taste is supreme. He and food writer Betty Hallock present an enticing, chicly photographed cookbook that offers 130 bold recipes that pay homage to ingredients, traditions and imagination. Themes on flavor are reflected via nine sections aptly titled with adjectives such as "spicy, salty, pickled, preserved"; "buttery, crisp, tangy, herbal"; and "flaky, fruity, caramely, tart." Vegetables and vinaigrettes shine, as do spices and herbs. Refined palates will savor recipes for kohlrabi with creme fraiche, mint, lemon and yuzo kosho; Centeno's signature Baco Flatbread, a "gyro-taco-pizza hybrid"; and pistachio cheesecake custards topped with matcha sugar and kataifi pastry. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines Discover: Eclectic, multicultural-inspired recipes from a groundbreaking Los Angeles chef and restaurant owner. "Josef 's ability to weave a swath of traditions into forceful and deeply satisfying dishes has made him a pioneer in the resurgence of L.A. dining. Detailed and lyrical-a little Turkish and a tad Tejano-Baco is the perfect manual for just how he does it." -Patric Kuh, food critic, Los Angeles Magazine "I can't stop reading Baco! I had the good fortune to work for and be inspired by Josef many years ago. Now I'm inspired again by this collection of recipes that demonstrates exactly why he is one of the most influential chefs of the New Los Angeles Cuisine."-Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon "When I arrived in Los Angeles 15 years ago, it was clear that Josef 's cooking was leading the charge in terms of inventiveness, technique, and sense of adventure. Unbeknownst to him, he became a mentor to me, and ushered in the next generation of chefs that have redefined L.A.'s food culture. I can't wait to cook my way through this retrospective of his work." -Travis Lett, Gjelina, Gjusta, GTA "I can't stop reading B?co! I had the good fortune to work for and be inspired by Josef many years ago. Now I'm inspired again by this collection of recipes that demonstrates exactly why he is one of the most influential chefs of the New Los Angeles Cuisine."-Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon