Inside Wylie Dufresne’s First-Ever Cookbook, Devoted to the Recipes (and People) of WD~50

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“I love a dish where everything is not what is seems,” writes the chef, Wylie Dufresne, in wd~50: the Cookbook. The book, which Dufresne co-wrote with Peter Meehan, is his first. It’s out on October 17, almost three years after wd~50 closed for good. In other words, the book is a little late, no? Dufresne acknowledges as much in the first line of his introduction, writing that he hoped to create something that could do for young cooks what “greats” like Michel Bras’s Essential Cuisine did for him: namely, provide inspiration and a look at the creative process of an entire restaurant. (The book also puts plenty of focus on all of the people besides Dufresne who made wd~50 what it was.)

For those who never got a chance to eat at the restaurant, but always wanted to know what deep-fried mayo tastes like, the book will do that, too, since it is, first a foremost, a collection of recipes. And while it’s not an ultra-aspirational Modernist Cuisinestyle tome, it’s hardly a conventional cookbook. Dufresne and Meehan devote an entire chapter to unusual foie gras and another to nonconventional noodles (“by using meat glue and gelatin together, we found we could create noodles out of pretty much anything”).

The book offers insight into the thinking behind the restaurant, including Dufresne’s obsession with a certain German specialty (“we went crazy with spätzle”), and Alex Stupak’s Universal Theory of Peanut Butter and Jelly (in short: You can pair any food that’s nutty, salty, and sweet with one that’s fruity, sweet, and acidic). In New York, wd~50’s influence is hard to avoid, and this is clear from the giant family tree that Dufresne managed to cultivate there, and the cameos — from chefs like J.J. Basil and Stupak — sprinkled throughout the book. Below, take a look inside, and head here to order a copy.

The table of contents makes it clear that this isn’t your usual cookbook.
The often-stunning food photography is by Eric Medsker.
Dufresne also includes a recipe for the burgers — and homemade American cheese — he served at Alder.
There’s a whole chapter of foie-gras recipes.
This dish, “inspired by a roast beef sandwich,” features Dufresne’s most famous creation: deep-fried mayonnaise.
“I don’t even really like mayonnaise, but a light went on, and I imagined that if I could figure it out, McDonald’s would want to buy my idea and I’d get to retire early.”
Former chef de cuisine Sam Henderson is one of the alums who contributed to the book.
One of Henderson’s contributions is this recipe of duck prosciutto served with nori peanut butter. Of that pairing, she says, it “was kind of like putting Sriracha on a cream puff: It seemed like a really bad idea, but it worked.”
“I don’t know exactly why I set out to make scrambled eggs in the shape of a cube,” Dufresne writes of this scrambled-egg-ravioli recipe.
Sous-chef Reggie Soang.
The chef admits that his pastry team often had to make extras of their snacks — since Dufresne was prone to stealing them.
Inside Chef Wylie Dufresne’s First-Ever Cookbook, wd~50