We just pinched the marketing blad for Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home: Family-Style Recipes, the $50 cookbook Artisan will publish in November. In the introduction, Keller promises instructions for “family meals and everyday staples, delicious approachable food, recipes that are doable at home. No immersion circulator required. No complicated garnishes. I promise!” So why is Keller going populist? The story is quite touching.
Shortly after we set out to write this book, my father died. I was very lucky to have him just next door to me during the last years of his life and to be able to cook for him. I cooked his last meal, and we shared it together. I remember it happily: his favorite, barbecued chicken with mashed potatoes and braised collard greens. I remember the collard greens especially because I hadn’t originally intended to serve them. But when I saw them in the grocery store, they were so big and vivid. I felt compelled to choose them. It was spring, and the first strawberries were in season, so I made strawberry shortcake. It was a good dinner. And now I am unspeakably grateful to have made it — that dinner remains important to me. And so does the food we — friends and family — would have in the following days, brought together in grief, comforted by food.