Books

Amá

A cookbook by Josef Centeno.

Josef Centeno, Betty Hallock and photographs by Renata Fuller

Tex-Mex is a delicious, irreverent cuisine that combines the deep traditions of Texan and Mexican cooking. Think meaty stews, breakfast tacos and trés leches cake. Home cooks will learn how to make them all — in addition to crunchy salads, slow-cooked meats and fresh cocktails — in this collection of more than 100 recipes from San Antonio native and Los Angeles chef and restauranteur Josef Centeno. Organized into chapters by type of food — including breakfast, vegetables, main courses, desserts and a super nacho party — this is down-home cooking and grilling at its most inspiring. Presented in a colourful package with more than 100 food and atmospheric photos, this cookbook is a hands-on winner for anyone who loves big flavours, casual parties and firing up the grill. (From Chronicle Books)

From the book

Bar Amá isn't so much a bar as it is a neighbourhood restaurant — a small, noisy, friendly Tex-Mex joint, not in Texas but in the center of downtown Los Angeles, next to an alley off of Fourth Street. Why Tex-Mex? I don't know if anyone would call it a trending cuisine. In fact, some say the opposite. I'd turned my back on it once, too.

Born and raised in San Antonio, I was a fairly normal angsty kid who loved skateboarding and punk music and rejected almost everything else. I wanted to escape from Catholic school, private military academy, cotillion classes, even summer trips to the Gulf Coast — all the things my parents worked so hard to give me (I'm sorry for being an ingrate, Mom and Dad). I wanted to be a chef, left for New York, and never looked back at the queso.

Until one day I did. I had cooked for Michelin three-star chefs at restaurants in New York, San Francisco and Santa Cruz — French haute cuisine, Japanese-influenced omakase, progressive Spanish tasting menus. When I opened my own first restaurant in Los Angeles, Bäco Mercat, I tapped into a sort of reimagined cuisine heavily influenced by the cooking of the Mediterranean — Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Moroccan and Lebanese flavours, with a little Ethiopian and Asian, too.


From Amá by Josef Centeno, Betty Hallock ©2019. Published by Chronicle Books.

 

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