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The Piglet2012 / Final Round, 2012

Momofuku Milk Bar

Momofuku Milk Bar

Christina Tosi

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VS
The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts

The Art of Living According to Joe Beef

David McMillan, Frederic Morin, & Meredith Erickson

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The Judgment

Alice_waters_brigitte_lacomb

By Alice Waters

I am always so hopeful that young cooks with a lot of passion and talent will write books that help to transform the North American diet in a positive way. That is why I have to admit that I am more than a little disappointed in the two finalists for this year's Piglet. Not because the authors are not talented, both obviously are, but because both books seem to contribute to feeding our addiction to sugar and fat. I am predictable and I always want to celebrate books and cooks that are helping people to fall in love again with fruits and vegetables. It will then come to no surprise that I hoped that Nigel Slater's wonderfully thoughtful Tender would make it to the end.

Both books — Momofuku Milk Bar and The Art of Living According to Joe Beef — have forewords by my friend David Chang and I enjoyed the personal reflections on the characters behind the restaurants. Christina Tosi's introduction and personal story about how she came to Momofuku Milk Bar is refreshingly matter of fact, unaffected and concise. In her words you begin to get a sense of an organized mind at work, something that is reflected in the precision of her recipes. All pastry chefs have that same kind of focus but the truly clever ones are also creative, a quality that Christina has in abundance. Sadly, it is in the ingredients that Milk Bar really loses me — it seems that they don't have real ingredients in their pantry. I understand the creative appeal of turning something bad into something surprising but I can't support the choice of highly processed ingredients when fresh and organic ones are increasingly so readily available. Across the board the Milk Bar recipes are too rich, too sweet, and just too intense for me. The fact that "Crack Pie" is their most famous recipe is quite telling.

When I first opened Joe Beef the page I landed on was Smoked Cheddar with doughnuts, an ominous sign. Many of the recipes in The Art of Living According to Joe Beef are heavy-handed and high in fat, but not all of them. As I leafed through the pages I came to be charmed by their story and the unconventional way the book is laid out. There is a sense of history to the book and their deep love of Montreal is evident throughout. There is richness in detail and usually a lovely idiosyncratic story for each recipe that makes the book as much of an engaging read as a straightforward cookbook. I loved the story of "Building a garden in a crack den" and the recipes that accompanied that chapter like Pickled Rhubarb, Carrots with Honey, and the lovely Herbes Salees. They speak with such affection about how they have replaced "pop cans, plastic bags, and cigarette butts that littered our yard with tomatoes, kale, and turnips." They say that building their garden was "not an environmental statement" but whether they want it to be or not, to me and I am sure to many who read this book, it is.

Appropriately, the decision between who wins the Piglet award this year between Joe Beef and Milk Bar came back to crack, and ultimately, I would rather be building a garden from a den than to be an addict.

It is my honor and pleasure to announce the winner of this year's Piglet is...The Art of Living According to Joe Beef.

And the winner is…

The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts

The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts

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Do you Agree? (59 comments)

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about 2 years ago Angela T. Macleod

WTG Joe Beef, totally visit this restaurant when you come to Montreal, quite an event in it's self! Stunning food, great decor and super service. Joe Beef himself would be VERY impressed! Google: "Joe Beef" a song by the East End Radicals here in Montreal, the story of his life is depicted in the song. Montreal rocks!

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about 2 years ago Mik

No disrespect but I could not disagree more that nut brittle pie crusts, freeze-dried corn powder and crack pie are the "future" of cooking. The recipes in Milk Bar are off-putting in the extreme. In my opinion apart from health issues they are not even appetizing. Even the photos are nauseating. I am a young home cook and neither I nor my friends eat like this or care to eat like this, and my kids won't ever either (maybe hipsters with a bad hangover might). This cookbook is more like a regression to the fantasies of a sugar-addled 8-year-old than a picture of "where we are going." While you could interpret her cooking as "post-modernist" or "avant-garde" it is supposed to be food, and first and foremost food should be edible and appetizing. Where food fails to do this, technique and "innovation" can go to hell. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

As to Alice Waters' comments, she was asked to judge between these cookbooks and this entails giving her honest review of each book. What else would you honestly expect her to say? At least she was candid. The only pettiness I detected was inserting mention of her favorite (which she has blurbed all over the place) into a judgment that did not concern it.

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about 2 years ago Cookoodoo

I haven't read or seen Momofuku milk bar cookbook but will certainly keep an eye opened for it. What I know is Joe Beef's cookbook and restaurant. I went through the book in a shop in Montreal and really liked the layout, the photos and the fact that there were stories explaining the context/philosophy of the two chefs.

I have to say I was probably quite sold on Joe Beef's cookbook because of 2 absolutely wonderful and unforgettable evenings at the restaurant. Fred Morin even came to salute us. I could feel how much he cares about food, his restaurant, his people and his town.

That love for Montreal was then confirmed in a recent interview he gave following the announcement of the prize winner. About Montreal, he said "It's important to us to get the message across to people in North America that Québec exists. That our francophone culture is an old one, and the history of dining in Montréal is very old and food is generally really important to the people of Québec City and Montreal. Dining in America I feel sometimes is not so old. Like dining in Las Vegas didn't exist really twenty years ago. Dining in the boroughs of New York City didn't really exist 25 years ago. Dining in Philadelphia is relatively new. Whereas French food in Montréal, in the old port, there are restaurants there that have going strong since the twenties or the thirties. We're just trying to communicate our love for French cooking in Montréal, somehow". I can't agree more. Vas-y Joe!

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about 2 years ago nadiaghannam

While I find both poor choices among a bevy of new and interesting cookbooks I would certainly agree that Joe Beef provides the lesser of two evils. I'm an avid cookbook reader and primarily borrow from my local library. I have the Momofuku Milk Bar book on my counter now and honestly, the only recipe I could stomach trying was the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies. The name says it all and these were awful, albeit a good way to use up a box of cornflakes left here by an overnight guest and yuk, Milk Powder? It left me yearning for a green salad for dessert. Even with all that gooiness, my kids were not impressed. Pretty disappointing choice for a runner up.

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about 2 years ago nadiaghannam

While I find both poor choices among a bevy of new and interesting cookbooks I would certainly agree that Joe Beef provides the lesser of two evils. I'm an avid cookbook reader and primarily borrow from my local library. I have the Momofuku Milk Bar book on my counter now and honestly, the only recipe I could stomach trying was the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies. The name says it all and these were awful, albeit a good way to use up a box of cornflakes left here by an overnight guest and yuk, Milk Powder? It left me yearning for a green salad for dessert. Even with all that gooiness, my kids were not impressed. Pretty disappointing choice for a runner up.

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about 2 years ago junglechef

It is disheartening to see that it came down to the over-hyped superstars who need no help or support to continue their success. How about if next year you seek out people who are self-publishing either in .pdf format or in e-books? For my money and time, no one really needs to read anymore about David Chang and his empire or the Joe Beef boys. Food52 is becoming more and more like the Food Channel on a daily basis and it saddens, disturbs and even irks me to see the same old faces reviewing the books, writing the books and receiving all the accolades that they hardly need. There are enough "Good Old Boy networks in all our other walks of life and it is ironic and ugly to see in happening in the food world as well.

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about 2 years ago ChezShea

Beef wins...Milk loses. Hmmm. Some kind of symbolism for a kinder and gentler world?
Sorry the vegetarian in me couldn't help but comment.

Nothing to do with cooking skills involved. Stictly the symbolic coincidence involving the names.

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about 2 years ago TheFatWitch

Either way, the cow wins...

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about 2 years ago jasonbaum

Witchy,

I'd be fascinated to understand how the cow actually "wins" in the beef scenario. :-)

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about 2 years ago witloof

I must say that what I admire most about Ms. Waters is her absolute uncompromising vision about everyone's right to eat good food. She is absolutely right in her concerns. People don't understand how far reaching the consequences are when children eat a steady diet of bad food. In addition to predisposing them to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other nutritionally related problems, it can actually interfere with their cognitive development. This is because the body uses fat from the diet to form the connections between brain cells, and the fat from fast food is so denatured and unlike anything from nature that the body can't manufacture what it needs with it.

I wish people wouldn't criticize Ms. Waters as being elitist or out of touch. Health is dependent on the nutrition available from good food, and how we continue to produce and distribute the food we eat will determine the fate of the earth, for better or worse. By eating bad food we are poisoning our bodies, and by growing it irresponsibly and sending it thousands of miles away, we are poisoning the planet. We need people like Ms. Waters to wake us up and show us the way.

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about 2 years ago PoorMansFeast

Indeed, Witloof, I could not possibly agree with you more; from a completely subjective, personal standpoint, I count Ms. Waters as the single greatest influence on me --- the way I think about food and prepare it, and certainly how I think about it from a more political point of view. I worship Elizabeth David and Richard Olney and Judy Rogers and so many others, but no one has had the kind of impact on me that Ms. Waters has. From an objective point of view, I think she's done more for the way Americans think about food on the whole, than, perhaps, anyone else save Julia Child (at her time, and place).
Still, given the Piglet as a competition involving many different kinds of books that might not, on the immediate face of it, appeal to Ms. Waters, I think her inclusion as judge was misguided: I'm a HUGE fan of Tender, and I don't go near much of the ingredients in the first place and second place books. That said, in the spirit of competition, the authors should be applauded for their success, as opposed to scolded. Perhaps that's not the way Ms. Waters intended her response to come off, but unfortunately, it did. That said, these comments take absolutely nothing away from who Ms Waters is, and what she's done.

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about 2 years ago GregoryBPortland

Agree that perhaps Alice Waters wasn't the right person to review these two cookbooks. There's no point in moaning over Alice's agenda--it was set years ago, and she's not about to change now. It's what makes her so admirable and at times annoying. I am surprised TENDER didn't go all the way. It's my choice of best cookbook of the year--a book to read and to cook from with appealing recipes, and a voice to inspire the cook.

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about 2 years ago PoorMansFeast

While I'm not at all surprised by Alice's issues --- who among us who know her work and what she stands for COULD be surprised --- what I'm saddened by is her verbalized disappointment at the outcome of the Piglet, which strikes me as being plain old bitter. I have a HUGE amount of respect for her that she stands, unwaveringly, by her principles, but perhaps the choice of Alice as judge for a list of books that included many very much NOT in tune with the CP aesthetic just wasn't the wisest of moves. Like them or don't like them, the finalists should have been applauded for their accomplishments, not the least of which is getting readers into the kitchen. And this day and age, that's no small potatoes. I'm not a huge Milk Bar fanatic, and while I eat meat, it's only infrequently. Still, I say ROCK ON, guys! And congratulations!

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about 2 years ago cdnelson

What's missing from this discussion as well as Ms. Waters' consideration of Tosi's book is that Momofuku desserts are self-consciously postmodern in their approach: a mixture of "high" and "low" ingredients, an integration of mass-produced and processed food with organic and sustainable products, irony, whimsy and a playful attempt to disorient the eater's expectations of what dessert should be. Ms. Waters' approach is nothing like this (her keywords are sincerity, authenticity, simplicity, etc.) What's a shame in this review is that Waters implicitly attributes this difference to a lack of moral or culinary integrity on the part of Tosi rather than a difference in aesthetic or ideological methods. I think it's this collapse of the moral with the aesthetic that drives me crazy about Waters: as much as I appreciate her food and her contributions to the culinary landscape, I wish she would stop posing as moral crusader when it comes to recognizing and appreciating other chefs.

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about 2 years ago susan g

Let's thank Alice Waters for a reasoned and thoughtful decision. I read every Piglet review this year, and found that personal philosophies dominated them all. Some reviews gave short shrift to a book, but I think if you look at the design of the Piglet, it's all about opinions.
We're not electing a president here -- you can go out and buy any book you wish, and you will!

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about 2 years ago Waverly

I completely agree with you, susan g. The Piglet is good fun - we get a peek at some new cookbooks that we otherwise would not know about, plus we get to read the opinions of some wonderful food writers. Let's acknowledge that because of this exposure to the world via Food52, every single one of these cookbooks is a winner of sorts. Go out and buy the ones you like. As for me, I agree with Alice, but I already own Tender. (and I love it)

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about 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, Charlotte, for these thoughtful comments, and for all of your work in pulling off this amazing event. The all-star lineup of judges brings to mind a comment reportedly made by John F. Kennedy, when he was entertaining a large group of Nobel prize winners at dinner at the White House in the spring of 1962: "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." ;o)

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about 2 years ago chardrucks

Thank you for that, Antonia. (Love the quote too. Giggles on TJ.) Amanda, Merrill and I have such fun working on the Tournament, and we want to pass that (along with our love of cookbooks) on.

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about 2 years ago Joni

With all due respect, what a very disappointing review. It might have been better to have her judge earlier on in the competition as well as have her test several recipes.

No harm, no foul. But let's hope there's a lesson learned here.

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about 2 years ago rosalind5

I agree - I LOVE Alice Waters, love her! But I was surprised by this review - not least that she doesn't mention cooking any of the recipes from either books. I am late to this piglet party, so perhaps I have missed this point, but are the judges, in fact, supposed to judge these books by their covers? (so to speak)

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about 2 years ago SweetM

Alice Waters picking Joe Beef as the winner almost seems like a left-handed compliment - "this is the one I dislike less"....not to mention that I got the feeling in her reviews that she didn't even cook any recipes but only read the books. Yes she is a American culinary icon, but maybe the wrong person for this job.

What a disappointing end to the wonderful Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks!

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about 2 years ago ChezShea

You're from New York....Am I right?

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about 2 years ago amysarah

Reading the responses to Alice Waters' review is very interesting. I think the conflict derives from the criteria...for a cohesive 'contest,' the expectations need some consistency....or at least as much as possible, given the variety of judges/points of view. Perhaps Alice Waters isn't the most appropriate choice for the finale. Not to slight her - she's near goddess-like to me, and no doubt could make a persuasive case that her criteria ought be relevant to all culinary endeavors. However, it seemed rather out of context within this particular challenge. Had her standards informed the competition earlier on - rather than feeling like the rules suddenly changed - I think the response would have been better. Oh well....we're all on a learning curve here, and frankly, that's a big part of what makes this community so interesting and engaging. I learned much from reading the diverse reactions of Ms. Waters' review.

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about 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Not being American/living in America (or Europe anymore...), the piglet's really educated me on what's new ont he block but also introduced me in some depth to the Judges and some of their 'iconic' attributes. Interesting to hear the conversation a la comments.....I did enjoy the piglet and though I cannot afford the space to buy yet another cookbook, I'll be browsing some bookstores in the future to see them up close and personal.

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about 2 years ago rapearson

i enjoyed the Piglet a lot this year and have ordered a few of the books myself (Momofuku Milk Bar and Super Natural). It seemed like an excellent group of books overall this year, many of which I would like to check out now.

This morning I was wondering who would win, but then I remembered that Alice Waters was judging so I was pretty sure it would be Joe Beef. I figured a cookbook about super sweet desserts where glucose is a common ingredient wouldn't really rank high with her.

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about 2 years ago SFG1

Alice Waters deserves a lot of credit for her historical contribution to the Bay Area, to the nation, and to our collective food culture -- and by historical, I mean in the past. But as this review now proves conclusively, Ms. Waters is nothing more than a one-note caricature at this point, and she has absolutely no business judging cookbooks by chefs who are extraordinarily creative, chefs who can intelligently employ sophisticated cooking techniques, and chefs who are trying to move beyond producing dishes that consist only of "fresh, organic, sustainably produced ingredients, simply prepared." It's little surprise to me that Ms. Waters didn't try to make any of the recipes in these books, as they are far more involved than simply tossing some pristine vegetables in some pristine olive oil.

Don't get me wrong -- there is certainly a time and place to have spectacular ingredients that have been minimally manipulated, and Chez Panisse may still be doing a fine job in this regard. But that is NOT the be-all-and-end-all of cooking, it is NOT the only style of cuisine that one may want to experience forever more, and it is clearly NOT the aspiration of the two cookbooks that made it to the final round. For Ms. Waters to unbendingly bring her singular frame to this task and then forcibly apply it to cookbooks that strive to be so much more is, frankly, preposterous. It was a mistake to have her participate in this tournament as a judge.

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about 2 years ago f mallmann

Being a honored winner of the piglet... I must say:
There is wisdom on the harsh words of Alice Waters, our craft is sometimes on the edge of uncertainty just for the sake of being modern, innovative.
There is to much junk out there. We must protect the young of so much food indoctrination.
Rather split my peach with my fingers than with a knife, an assert my food on the plate with less touching and no decor. Opposites will keep the roots of food, at the end, the only reason to eat handsomely is to share food and witty talk with loved or interesting friends and people. Lets forget the fuss.
Hello and thanks to all from the southern tip of South America.
I did enjoy all that writing.

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about 2 years ago SFG1

Chef Mallman: As somebody who has used, enjoyed and planned an entire dinner around your cookbook, I must respectfully disagree with your apparent suggestion that we cast the modern, the innovative, the uncertain, and even the "fuss" out of our cooking. There is undoubtedly great value in a finger-split peach, charred and plated with no decor and enjoyed fireside; there is equal value, however, in the meticulously prepared and plated food of a Pierre Gagnaire, a Thomas Keller or a Grant Achatz (to name but a few), enjoyed in sumptuous surroundings. Variety is, as they say, the spice of life, and those who advocate only one narrow form of cooking -- or dining -- are missing out on the rich complexity that is the human experience. I say enjoy it all, and most importantly -- as you say -- share it all with loved ones and interesting people.

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about 2 years ago dymnyno

I love this tournament! All the cookbooks that were chosen to be in the contest were already winners. Each of the judges used their own special "voice" in analyzing or describing their particular reasons for liking each book and or not. Some (like Roz )were humorous and some were appreciative of the work of their own peers. Finally, Alice Waters finished with the voice of an older and experienced cookbook writer and mentor to many of us. Perfect!

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about 2 years ago Laurie in Petaluma

I have been enjoying the Piglet so much this year until now. Alice Waters should never be allowed to judge again. She is so smug. She thinks all families should be able to afford farm fresh eggs at $8 a dozen, and farm fresh chickens for dinner every night. Honestly, how many families of 4 can afford $30 for dinner every night across the US? She is so out of touch with reality. I don't have the Joe Beef cookbook but I pre-ordered the Momofuku Milk Bar and have enjoyed making several of her recipes. I don't usually stray from recipes but I feel she gives me the confidence to use her techniques in other recipes.

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about 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

The discussion stimulated by the Piglet, through all the rounds of the bracket, demonstrates the thoughtfulness, commitment and diversity of our FOOD52 community. I too am sad to see the Piglet end. But I'm also thankful for having been introduced to the various books, many of which I intend to investigate further, and to have learned what I have from and about the various judges. Thank you, FOOD52, for creating this wonderful event. ;o)

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about 2 years ago BoulderGalinTokyo

EXACTLY!

Thank you.

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about 2 years ago StephenBoccaBacon

Wrong reviewer for these books. I respect Alice Waters. I ate at CP this weekend. The food was exquisite. It was also unsurprising or (at this stage of the game) inventive. Both of these books are surprising and inventive in the extreme perhaps. I wish Ms.Waters had been willing to go along for the ride instead of complaining that she didn't think the ride was safe. The way we write and think about food has to grow and change and be aggressive. While the laurels of Alice's past accomplishments are richly deserved, her agenda runs the risk of becoming stale.

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about 2 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Alice Waters – the Queen of Green - her picture hangs in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, for goodness sakes. I love everything she does. Except in this instance.

While I’m thrilled that Joe Beef is the winner, Alice missed the boat on reviewing Milk. Both of these cookbooks represent joy, pleasure and indulgence. For some - for me anyway - it’s the little, simple things in life that bring us joy, and yes, sugar is one of those things. Do I eat sack-fulls of it? No. Do I practice moderation? Yeah, some. Should I be eating more vegetables? Most definitely.

I didn’t love that Christina Tosi professed using wonderful local organic small-dairy milk, and then soaked the crap out of it with all kinds of stuff. That bothered me. A lot. But I did love how Tosi showed us that desserts can be really special, can be made at home, and can bring you great joy.

To me, it seems like Alice didn’t read Milk at all, not even the Crack Pie® chapter. What’s so wrong with being famous for what is essentially a chess pie, or a nut-free pecan pie?? I’m all for crack references describing addictively-delicious baked goods. It’s funny. But I think in this instance it may have thrown the Queen of Green over the garden gate, to the detriment of Milk.

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about 2 years ago mariaraynal

I simply adore the Piglet and its thoughtful, detailed reviews. They offer as much insight into the reviewer as a cook and person as they do the books. The former holds true for the reviewers who took a superficial approach, who didn't test recipes, and who allowed their personal philosophies to influence what should be an impartial, thorough process.

I mean, really, Alice Waters judging Milk and Joe Beef?!? Think of the possibilities! What was a glorious opportunity to embrace irony and humor turned grim, humorless, flavorless.

Yet, even with these occasional disappointments, I wouldn't change a thing about how the Piglet is structured (ok, perhaps a requirement that reviewers actually cook from the books), because the beauty of it is the unpredictability, the unexpected pairings and the revealing peek into the soul of a cook. Can't wait for next year!

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about 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Honestly, I don't disagree with Alice Waters's disappointment. If I'd received either of the final books as a gift, I'd probably be re-gifting them. Joe Beef looks like a great read, but the review of chosen recipes reflected a level of persistence and determination that's probably a bit rare. In no way do I question Christina Tosi's talent; but the book has always seemed faddish to me. I'd be hard pressed to think of a judge with more exacting standards than Alice Waters. More than one judge along the way read recipes rather than cooking from them. The only one of all of them who could likely be trusted to read a recipe and evaluate it intuitively may be Alice Waters. That said, if food52 is comprised of really good, really serious home cooks, it might be interesting in the future for some of those really good, really serious home cooks to be involved at some point in the judging process. Each of the judges involved in the process is likely going to go back to cooking the way she/he has or is interested in. I have a feeling food52 participants look for books to open new doors. And for those doors to stay open over time.

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about 2 years ago Bevi

Nicely put. And now on to the restaurant tournament! When does that start?

Dscn2212

about 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh Yeah!

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about 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

It would be great to have some food52ers judge next years contest (I second the motion) - I'm in if you were asking.....as a judge that is......

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about 2 years ago creamtea

I agree with you, b. On a personal basis, the Milk Bar cookbook has less than zero appeal for me and JB is too involved. That's just me, though. It does seem that different judges brought different levels of seriousness to the task...

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about 2 years ago MeghanVK

Man, I'm glad they didn't go into any more detail at the party! (I went last night and had a great time... thanks, Food52 staffers et al).

I personally capital-L Love the Milk Bar cookbook. And, for the record, there are sections of the book devoted to the use of good butter and high quality milk the bakery uses (or used) from the sadly now-defunct Milk Thistle dairy. Milk Bar's recipes are not for dishes that you would eat every day, or even every week - but for me, it's about taking those occasions when you'd make a cake or pie and elevating the process.

All that said, congrats to the Joe Beef crew and maybe next year Ms. Waters should look at the entries before she agrees to judge. We can't all be Super Natural Everyday. (which is another great book! but still)

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about 2 years ago wssmom

You were there??!! Sorry I missed you!!

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about 2 years ago MeghanVK

That long-standing problem with the internet... it's hard to recognize anyone in person!

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about 2 years ago wssmom

What an interesting and educational tournament (although not quite so much fun to read as the restaurant tournament)! I think every single one of the cookbooks was amazing and I was so delighted to have Melissa Clark sign my copy of "Cook This Now" at the party last night! Incredible job putting this all together, guys!

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about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

We were so glad to see you -- thanks so much for coming to the party!

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about 2 years ago handsomehandyman

so, Waters didnt like either of them. And why? because they didnt fit her style? im sure Joe Beef is a fine book, im sorry that it won because Waters didnt like it less than she didnt like Milk Bar.

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about 2 years ago jenniebgood

When I got to the end of Ms. Waters' review my reaction was "Yowza!" Although it's probably impossible to completely leave one's personal views at the door as a judge in a competition, Ms. Waters' comments seem to walk a bit of a line in terms of impartiality. I wish she had tempered some of them a bit. To have the final say on the winner when appears that there hasn't been any recipe testing from either book is also a little disappointing.

Based very much on Ms. Waters' own style and focus (and very much to her credit), there is a local, sustainable, healthful cooking style that has taken hold of this country. I would venture to say that many of us use Tender and Super Natural Every Day as ready references on a regular basis. But that does not mean we necessarily want to get up each day, every day, and cook from them. Or Chez Panisse. These books may not be driven by or find their roots in the cooking style that Ms. Waters has adopted, but they are in this competition to be celebrated for their own style.

Those of us that come to this site (and visit the thousands of others out there) love food. All kinds. The vastly different cooking styles and views that this community embraces were demonstrated by this year's Piglet candidates, and that is what the competition is about.

Would the Piglet organizers ever consider asking some of the F52 members to be judges next year? I for one would love to see what inspires AntoniaJames, ChezSuzanne, DrBabs and Thirschfeld (to name just a few of many).

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about 2 years ago Savour

Maybe parallel piglet tournaments -- the celebrity judges and the home cooks? I think it would actually be pretty enlightening to see the outcomes.

As it is, I agree that, without having read the books, I'd probably award the win to Joe Beef as well (and I probably would have chosen Tender over Milk Bar too). Based on this review, though, it seems to me that Ms. Waters' agenda, while admirable in some respects, interferes with thoughtful judging in this case.

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about 2 years ago alygator

No matter how well written the reviews are I cannot help but to be completely disappointed when the judge does not test the recipes. I don't care "how busy" a judge is; it should be a requirement of judging if you are going to commit to do it. I have loved Piglet and looked forward to each and every new entry. However, I do not feel the tournament was fair or balanced nor it possible to determine if the best cookbook won. Some of these reviews were just horrible (Ina's in particular). I guess because we started so strong with Nigella's thoughtful and beautifully written review I had higher hopes.

Junechamp

about 2 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm just guessing, but perhaps it is only realistic to presume the judges in the original round of Piglet will be testing multiple recipes from their books? I say this because I'm guessing the subsequent judges only get their books to consider AFTER the first round. And they have to return their verdicts quite quickly.

Since the judges probably commit to doing this way ahead of time, when it comes right down to actually doing the judging, they may not be in a place or time where they can devote hours and hours to testing multiple recipes.

Or, I could be way off base. I surely enjoyed far more those reviews where recipes had been tested.

Mcs

about 2 years ago mcs3000

Thank you, Amanda, Merrill and Charlotte - love that you dared to mix-up the Piglet - format, judges + books. While I wished some judges would have expanded on their commentary, I'm grateful you gave them a blank canvas. One of the things I love most about the Piglet is that it's unpredictable.

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about 2 years ago ATG117

I actually think the comments should be more respectful and appreciative. Though I agree that it's best when recipes are made from both books, these are prominent and very busy people who honestly may not have the time needed to do a thorough testing. It's true that it probably isn't their first priority either. But they agreed to judge and be a part of this community, and they are the ones who inspire and teach home cooks like us after all. While the cooks on this site get to review and post comments every day (anyone can ask a question about a cookbook on the hotline), I think the piglet was designated as a competition to be judged by these renowned professionals, who have given us a window into their ideas of the best cookbook. And if Alice had tested the recipes, she'd likely have come to the same conclusion. Again, this is not to suggest that I wouldn't have preferred to have seen recipes tested, but to say that I think the piglet should be appreciated for the point of views it has brought and for the opportunity it has presented to hear from these respected culinary (in most cases) personalities. I enjoyed it and would love to see it more often.

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about 2 years ago mike czyzewski

Don't get me wrong..I appreciate that these very busy people took the time to judge the cookbooks but, in a coookbook competition, I'd love to hear about the actual recipes. Were they well written? Did they work as printed or were edits necessary? Did they taste good? It's nice to know about perspective and deliciously written prose but I also need to know about the recipes themselves.

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about 2 years ago loubaby

I couldn't agree more....I buy cookbooks for the recipes--how they come together, taste and WORK!. I have plenty of cookbooks that I don't have time TO READ....but I judge them on their recipe excellence or not.

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about 2 years ago CookingMomTR

While I haven't heard of either the judge or the Joe beef book, I must say that I am truly disappointed in the final review. While I appreciate that she has personal opinions and her own style of cooking, I wish she had maintained a more impartial standing as she reviewed the choices. I get the impression she simply flipped a coin...

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about 2 years ago mike czyzewski

is it just me or does Ms. Waters seem disappointed about the two finalists and reluctant to pick a winner? additionally, did she actually make any of the recipes in the books or just flip through them? It should be a requirement for future judges that they put the cook back into cookbook before they are allowed to participate.

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about 2 years ago The Spiced Life

Boy did that review turn me off of Alice Waters. Sadly.

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about 2 years ago garlic&lemon

What a treat to read many of the reviews on the group of cookbooks chosen. While I will not buy either of the finalists (my family tends towards the Alice Waters' style of cooking and eating) I most certainly will buy some of the others based on the reviews, which sent me on a special trip to my local library and then to the bookstore to check them out. It has been very interesting to read the comments from the Food52 community. I, like many others, have most appreciated the reviewers who took the time to cook from the books. I am not offended by strong opinions from the community members who are frustrated by reviewers who did not cook. I do not think all the comments have to be positive and nice to be honest and respectful. We are a community of passionate, interesting, interested, and curious cooks. Although deciding the Piglet process is not a democratic process, would the editors consider suggestions from the community regarding the preferences for book reviews, nominations for books, and potential reviewers?

Thanks for an engaging and interesting Piglet!

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about 2 years ago ChefCitron

Wonderful tournament! Sad to see the Piglet end...oink, oink until next year!