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Secrets from the LaVarenne Kitchen

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Secrets of the La Varenne Kitchen, is the never-before published handbook provided to students -- including some of today's top culinary talent -- who attended Anne Willan’s legendary École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris. With 50+ essential recipes, Secrets of the La Varenne Kitchen is a simple but indispensable book no cook should be without.                                             

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What do Alex Guarnaschelli, Steve Raichlen, Martha Holmberg, Amanda Hesser, Gale Gand, and dozens of other leading culinary professionals have in common? They all attended Anne Willan’s legendary cooking school, Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, and each mastered the fundamentals with the help of La Varenne Basic Recipes, a simple reference booklet provided to every La Varenne student.

Based on the La Varenne maxim that “there are only fifty basic recipes in the culinary repertoire, and all other dishes come from them,” the original booklet contained the fifty essential recipes for any aspiring chef.  Today, this cherished staple-bound booklet remains a go-to reference for many La Varenne alumni.

With the release of Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen (March 2015, Spring House Press), Anne Willan’s indispensable booklet is now available for the first time outside the walls of La Varenne. These recipes — timeless, reliable, and delicious as ever — are the toolkit that will help any cooking enthusiast, culinary student, or seasoned cook achieve professional success in any kitchen. Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen is not a cookbook of finished dishes, but a treasure-trove of the fundamental stock, sauce, and pastry recipes that make up a dish.

In praising the recipes of the Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen, Martha Holmberg, author of Modern Sauces and the former publisher of Fine Cooking, has commented, “I find myself referring to them for just about every recipe development project I’ve done. I always appreciate the solid foundational recipes that help me create my own dishes.”

Ana Sortun, the award-winning Mediterranean chef and owner of Oleana in Cambridge, MA, has kept her original copy of recipes at her side for 20 years and shares, “For any level of cook or chef, this book is a must-have reference to basics or advanced skills.”

A member of the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, Anne Willan is a pioneer who helped launch the modern-day culinary movement with the likes of Julia Child, James Beard, and Jacques Pépin. She broke new ground in 1975 when she founded Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, the first cooking school in France to offer simultaneous translation in English. Julia Child was an early supporter of La Varenne declaring, “I would take my main training at La Varenne. There isn’t anyplace like it anywhere.”

The fifty basic recipes of the Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen, along with the many derivatives, are broken down into six chapters. Stocks and Aspic covers veal, chicken, fish and glazes; Hot and Cold Sauces ranges from Brown to Tomato, Béchamel to Béarnaise, and Hollandaise to Mayonnaise; Pastries and Cakes includes pie shells, puff pastry, sponge cake, and brioche; Fillings, Frostings, and Meringues features pastry creams, three types of meringue, and the many variations of butter cream frosting; Ice Cream, Sherbets, and Poached Fruits covers a wide variety of flavors; and Cooking with Sugar includes a helpful cooking chart. Each recipe includes the French translation of ingredients, true to the original bi-lingual English/French format.

Simple, straightforward, and bound by Willan’s belief that the fundamentals — not the trendy or flashy — are the key to culinary success, Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen celebrates the legacy of a culinary institution while introducing the essentials of excellence to a new generation of cooking enthusiasts.