Tips for buying fish:
- Buy your fish at a fresh fish market
- Smell it. There should be no bad odor
- Look at it. Does it look clean? It shouldn't have discolored patches on it.
- Check out the gills. They should be a rich red color.
I spent nearly thirteen years at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, a popular restaurant owned by Alice Waters. I worked in the pastry department with executive pastry chef Lindsey Shere, creating desserts and baking as fast as my fingers would carry me.
Although it's become cliché to say that we created menus that were regionally-based, using local, sustainable, and fresh ingredients, we really did it. (I swear, if I hear one more chef say they do "seasonally fresh foods", but presents me with a menu with blackberries and peaches on it in December, I'm gonna scream.) Chez Panisse pioneered a wave of change across America; we foraged foods from local producers, encouraged farmers to grow heirloom fruits and vegetables, and supported sustainable businesses.
I was also the pastry chef at several San Francisco restaurants and was named one of the "Top Five Pastry Chefs in the Bay Area" by the San Francisco Chronicle. I like to joke that there was only five of us around, but it was nice to be honored in a city known for such exceptional cooking.
In addition to local accolades, I got critical acclaim in such publications as Bon Appétit, Chocolatier, Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, Food+Wine, Gourmet, Condé Nast Traveler, Cook's Illustrated, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, The New York Times, People, Saveur, Sunset, and USA Today. Yes, that was me in People magazine, with Paula Abdul on the cover.
I did some national television programs such as Gourmet magazine's Diary of a Foodie on PBS, the Discovery Channel, NBC's Today Show, and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel. My culinary eduction is mostly hands-on, but I did attend Callebaut College in Belgium and Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona in Tain l'Hermitage because I love chocolate so much, and took advanced courses in baking and the art of confectionery at the renowned Ecole Lenôtre in Paris. Because we bakers like to share, I lead culinary tours of Paris which focus on chocolate, ice cream, breads, and the pastries of France.
In 1999, after I left the crazy restaurant business, I wrote Room For Dessert which was honored as a finalist for an IACP/KitchenAid Cookbook Award. The New York Times called Room For Dessert "brilliantly appealing (with) recipes so good it becomes clear what a master baker he is" and the San Francisco Examiner hailed Room For Dessert as an "instant classic". Ha! And they said I'd never amount to much…
My second book, Ripe For Dessert, is filled with classic and contemporary desserts with fruit. Because of changes in the publishing industry, both of these books are now out of print, never to be seen again, and are considered rare and desirable.
Thankfully, I have about 14 and 18 copies of each book left, respectively, which I'm saving to fund my retirement. But the good news is……my book, Ready for Dessert (Ten Speed), features my all-time favorite recipes from both of those books. I completely updated the recipes that I picked out, added a bunch more recipes that I couldn't resist sharing, included metric measurements, and had all-new photographs taken. And it's a pretty stunning book, if I do say so myself.
For those highly-intelligent people who are as into chocolate as I am, The Great Book of Chocolate (Ten Speed), is the ultimate guide to the new and exciting world of chocolate. The Great Book of Chocolate was cited as one of the top books of the year by The New York Times and Food+Wine magazine. The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed) is the best-selling guide to ice cream and frozen desserts, and contains hundred of recipes for ice creams, sorbets, and granitas… plus all the deliciously gooey, nutty, and chocolaty things that get mixed inside and drizzled over the top. I love ice cream; from stirring up a egg-rich custard, to licking the ice cream fresh off the dasher of the machine, and folks around the globe have been enjoying this book as well. I mean, it's ice cream, folks. Who doesn't like ice cream?
I also penned, The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway), a food-based memoir of my first fun-filled years in Paris, packed with humorous and delicious stories about the city, with French-inspired recipes that are both sweet and savory. Unlike books by authors who lived on the Left Bank and spent their days strolling along the Saint-Germain, this is filled with stories about the real-life challenges I faced, like finding a new battery for my cordless telephone, trying to figure out how on earth a bank could not have any change, and working at a fish market, hauling slippery specimens from the deep and actually touching squid…if you can believe it.
No, I didn't renovate a house in the countryside nor did I fall in love with a café waiter. But I actually still live here, and am here for the long haul. So if you want to know the answers to the three questions that no one is allowed to ask me (#1, Why did you move to Paris? #2, How long do you plan to live in Paris? and #3, How often do you get back to the states?), read the book. (Well, except for #3, because I never understand who cares how often I get back.)
The Sweet Life in Paris is currently a finalist in the Best Literary Writing category for a 2010 Cuisinart/International Association of Culinary Professionals award.
I've been living in Paris since around 2002. Or maybe it was 2003. I started my website in 1999, which featured frequently updated stories and recipes. In 2005, I added blogging software, which made writing and updating it a lot easier, so it could officially be called a "blog". I never realized how many people would start reading it, and continue to follow me, but folks keep coming back for more and more.
You can also find me on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter.
>> David's website: http://www.davidlebovitz.com