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LindaK

Next (restaurant) e-book series by Grant Achatz

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Chef Grant Achatz is publishing a series of e-cookbooks on iTunes with recipes from his Chicago restaurant, Next. For those who might not know of it, Next serves a single prix-fixe menu that changes seasonally. The first e-book was recently released with Next’s inaugural menu, based on the theme of Paris: 1906.

As described on iTunes:

“Paris: 1906 includes the exact recipes for every dish served as documented by our chefs, over 200 photos, and short essays describing the key dishes and concepts”

Achatz plans a new e-book for each menu. At $4.99 for each one, not a bad price if it’s a good product, and the reviews are good: Apple web site with a link to iTunes for full reviews and download.

In general I'm not jealous of those who dine at places where I cannot, but I would have done much to have dined at Next for this menu.

If anyone has it or gets this ebook (or any future edition) I’d really love a report. I'm grinding my teeth, this is enough to make me want to run out and buy an iPad, I can’t imagine using it on my phone or ipod.

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I'm downloading it, will report back in the next day or two.

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I'm waiting for it to be available on a non-Apple device. According to Nick Kokonas twitter account will happen at some point.

That said, everything I have heard about the book suggests it is very impressive.

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I have the eBook. It's an accomplishment.

I'm an eBook pro, and so my attention naturally runs to the things I'd have done differently. There are a number of these, but that's inside baseball. In essence, the strengths and weaknesses here are quite close to those of the Alinea book:

- elegant production with lavish photography

- a very modest price, well below what the book could command

- fine and candid writing, though perhaps not quite enough of it

- recipes you could duplicate, though you probably won't. Though painting chocolate from a spray gun does sound like a swell time!

- thoughtful (though too short) explanations of the reasoning behind each dish

For example, the chicken course is discussed in terms f the criticism some expressed that it was undercooked. Escoffier is quite clear that he thinks chicken breasts should be cooked VERY gently, and I had guessed that this course was an argument for using sous vide techniques and modern ideas for plating to approach what Escoffier wanted to do. The book explains the concept nicely. It's a valuable discussion, and it advances cookery .

Like the Alinea book, the typography is elegant but not distinguished for legibility.


Edited by Eastgate (log)

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Anyone download the free sample of it? I did but half the pages won't display properly having greyed out areas where it looks like it's still loading the page. If I flip pages back and forth sometimes it loads the whole page but then flipping back and forth again and the grey is back. Turning a page also takes a really long time. Don't want to get the full version if it will be like this.

I also grabbed the Volt free sample and it loaded up without issue and is really quick turning pages. I already tried deleting and redownloading the 1906 sample as well as upgrading from ios 5 to 5.0.1. It made no difference.

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The full version has no greyed-out areas; I imagine that's what makes it a sample. Page turning can be slow (and, to my mind, is counterintuitive), but I have no other books to compare to. I've managed to make a recipe out of the Paris 1906 book on only my iPhone, so I have no complaints. (Admittedly, it was a short recipe.)

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I love the idea, and the price is right, but I hate the form factor they chose. I seem to remember an interview were they said they made this ebook specifically for the iPad. Why then are the pages square? It makes reading it much more difficult.

Still, its cool that they are doing this for each menu. The Paris book only has 1 video, but the Thailand book is supposed to have 10.

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I downloaded both the sample and the full document and had no problem reading it on my ipad (although page turns were slow). You have to double click on the page so only a single page is showing for it to fill the screen.

Personally, I was hoping for a bit more text. Apart from what was in the sample, the rest of the book is pretty much just a listing of pretty straightforward french classics. There's the occasional sous vide thrown in a few places but apart from that, all the recipes are very staid and traditional. I have plenty of cookbooks with the same dishes in them and I didn't feel like this one added significantly.

For $5, I'm happy with my purchase but I'm much more looking forward to the "childhood" menu they're currently serving.

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Reading about the Next ebooks was one of the factors that pushed me to buy an iPad. I really enjoy it. If this were a physical cookbook I could probably be convinced to spend about $30 on it. Like the Alinea cookbook it has beautiful pictures and the recipes have numerous components that could be used in different dishes. I'm looking forward to making some of the mignardises at the end of the book.

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how far does it make use of the ipad? Is it "just" a "book" or are there videos, other interactive things? I'd have little interest in "just" a book, but I'm curious about full use of these tools, videos, other interactive features etc. Otherwise I stick to the real thing, and if it's not published on paper, oh well, more room for other books :-)

Interesting idea though, a book per menu. Has promise!

(does Next really only change their menu 4 times a year?)

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Interesting idea though, a book per menu. Has promise!

(does Next really only change their menu 4 times a year?)

Apparently. So far we have Paris 1906, Tour of Thailand, Childhood, and in January 2012, a Tribute to El Bulli. I'd rather spend money on the meal than on an iPad...but these ebooks do sound excellent.

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I love the idea, and the price is right, but I hate the form factor they chose. I seem to remember an interview were they said they made this ebook specifically for the iPad. Why then are the pages square? It makes reading it much more difficult.

I agree. The interface is annoying (very herky-jerky), but the content is well worth the money.

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Sad to see them take the cheap and dirty way with the foie gras.

Meaning what?

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Sad to see them take the cheap and dirty way with the foie gras.

Meaning what?

Piping in foie gras mousse rather than making a true torchon and cooking it in the brioche. I've noticed that a lot of these modern restaurants prefer to make their torchons out of puree, heck Modernist Cuisine does too. Sadly it is the lowest form of preparation, losing both texture and flavor for the sake of a "perfect" appearance and higher margins. To do it in the foie gras en brioche is particularly galling, and low, since the dish is, or was, a technical exercise in centering the foie in the brioche both before and after cooking. Only the best could do it correctly. Achatz just made a hole and piped in his shortcut foie. More of a foie gras twinkie than anything else, but heck, it looks faaaaabulous dahling, and that is what modern cuisine is all about.

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Talking about foie gras en brioche. Tried to do it at work by the Point recipe, and we never managed to get it to look like in the picture... This was a professional setting and I think we all tried once, so three in total. There must have been something missing in technique or personal aptitude. Long story short, I think that mayhaps Mr. Achatz knew this and made a thoughtful decision to 'dumb it down' for the home cook, which I've come to understand is quite common practice.

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Talking about foie gras en brioche. Tried to do it at work by the Point recipe, and we never managed to get it to look like in the picture... This was a professional setting and I think we all tried once, so three in total. There must have been something missing in technique or personal aptitude. Long story short, I think that mayhaps Mr. Achatz knew this and made a thoughtful decision to 'dumb it down' for the home cook, which I've come to understand is quite common practice.

It is a very hard dish to make correctly. Not sure I have ever seen it done as well as Point, but Achatz dumbed it down for his restaurant, not for the home cook. His torchon, as well as MC's, seems to always be done with a puree. Form over flavour.

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Just out of curiosity, how is the pure made? And after watching the Harvard lecture where Grant Achatz explains what they do in Alinea, I lost almost all respect for him as a chef.

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And after watching the Harvard lecture where Grant Achatz explains what they do in Alinea, I lost almost all respect for him as a chef.

Having not watched the Harvard lecture series ... could you please share why you feel this way?

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This is Chef Achatz at Harvard, I don't know why this would cause people to lose their respect for him.

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Maltodextrin, does it make it... better? The dried pudding with the coconut milk? I can walk to any dupermarket and buy these things. This game with food additives is interesting and I'm sure they taste good. But haute cuisine is by definition, at least in my mind the process of going an extra five miles to prepare something amazing, not taking shortcuts and just providing a wow-factor after another... But as I said this is my opinion and being a chef myself I just don't like the way they seem to be doing things. Have you ever tried maltodextrin?

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Maltodextrin, does it make it... better? The dried pudding with the coconut milk? I can walk to any dupermarket and buy these things. This game with food additives is interesting and I'm sure they taste good. But haute cuisine is by definition, at least in my mind the process of going an extra five miles to prepare something amazing, not taking shortcuts and just providing a wow-factor after another... But as I said this is my opinion and being a chef myself I just don't like the way they seem to be doing things. Have you ever tried maltodextrin?

It doesn't make it taste better, it simply changes the texture. In fact, N-Zorbit is generally only added in amounts that has no detectable taste. If you want to add an oil-based flavor component to a dish but would rather have it as a light powder, N-Zorbit is the tool. These powders are extremely easy to make, but the flavor is essentially the exact same as the starting oil or fat. They do have a unique melt-in-your-mouth effervescence, which is both surprising and exciting to eat.

I agree with what you seem to be hinting at - that these powders are overused. I can't say I don't enjoy them though, and it's a very subjective thing to assess.


Edited by Baselerd (log)

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Any idea whats up with this book series? I havent heard anything after the paris book, yet it said a vietnam book was soon to follow.

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Yeah, the Thailand book was supposed to come out a couple of times already, first just a few weeks after Paris and then in spring of this year, but it seems to have just kind of faded away. I even remember seeing shots of an Achatz action figure for the Childhood book, but still nothing. I hope they haven't descended into culinary app limbo like the Lucky Peach app.

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