Rook Cooks: Simplicity at Its Finest by Annie Gunn's chef Lou Rook III has been a few years in the making but well worth the wait for locavores.
The cookbook is a collection of 120 of Rook's favorite recipes, along with Missouri wine pairings, full-color photos and the chef's personal, colorful narrative. It hit local bookshelves on Thu., Jan. 3, after more than two years of writing and production, and the sudden bankruptcy of the original publishing company that forced Rook to self-publish.
“You can almost tell what phases I was going through as I was writing the book,” Rook says. “The goal was to have it done in 10 months, and it took two years, three months. (On the original time line) it would have been a completely different book.”
Rook admits to progressing in spurts, putting down his work for weeks at a time, then adding recipes that excited him. He doesn't regret savoring the writing process, and says readers may enjoy sharing in his food journey.
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“The goal is to show the art of cooking and that entertaining is to be enjoyed and fun and therapeutic. I think we achieved that,” he says. “And if they open their minds and try the Missouri wine pairings, it's even more fun.”
But don't look for a regurgitation of Rook's menu at Annie Gunn's or expect the recipes to lean on exotic ingredients and difficult techniques. Rook wanted the book to celebrate what's available and comfortable to the average home cook who wants to produce something delicious with what's on hand. The book, he says, includes dishes that are fun for everyone from the “knucklehead” in the kitchen to the pro.
“I go into so many homes, and people have all these really great cookbooks – and then they're barely using them. I wanted this to be something they'd pull out every day. There's something in there for everybody.
“It's just good and credible food. Every recipe, you can make at home without having to fly ingredients in from around the world.”
Rook Cooks is available for $35 at The Smokehouse Market and Annie Gunn's, and the following locations: Kitchen Conservatory, Left Bank Books and St. Louis Wine Market and Tasting Room.
The Smokehouse Market at Annie Gunn’s, 16806 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield, 636.532.7684, anniegunns.com
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