What happens when an English major stumbles upon a world-class kitchen like Chez Panisse? A new culinary voice that stands out in the noise of endless cookbooks, how-to videos, and recipes.
To those who have worked with Samin Nosrat, a writer, New York Times food columnist, and now best-selling cookbook author, her success is no surprise. She's been called "America's next great cooking teacher" by none other than chef Alice Waters. Nosrat learned how to cook from Waters at Chez Panisse, but also in Italy with chefs Benedetta Vitali and Dario Cecchini. Despite her work with professional chefs and other big names in the food industry like Michael Pollan, Nosrat says her true goal is to be a champion of the home cook. "What I've always tried to do as a cooking teacher is to teach people how to think about cooking," she says.
What makes Nosrat's work stand out is its simplicity. You won't find overdone, impossible-to-follow recipes with glossy, formally plated photography in her cookbook. Instead, Nosrat gets down to the basics. In the professional kitchens she's worked in, she learned how to recognize the four elements that make or break any dish. It's all in the name of her cookbook: Salt Fat Acid Heat. Once she began to see the patterns of how those four elements reacted together, she says, she began to understand how food tastes the way that it does. How does it work? "Salt enhances flavor, fat delivers flavor and creates texture, acid balances flavor, and heat ultimately determines the texture," she says.
Incredibly, she couldn't find a single resource that could explain those very simple reactions of cooking, so she set out to do it it herself. She decided to forgo photography and worked with illustrator Wendy MacNaughton to concept each picture in the cookbook. The message of Salt Fat Acid Heat? To demystify cooking for all. Go behind the scenes with Nosrat, watch her cook, and see how her approach to cooking has revolutionized the culinary scene.