When I won this copy of The Best of Chef at Home by Chef Michael Smith printed by Whitecap Books thanks to my seafood potato skins recipe, I was so excited! Not only is Michael Smith the food ambassador of PEI, he is possibly the nicest chef on television. Do not believe me? Watch one episode of Chef at Home and tell me I am wrong.
He is such a great teacher and so approachable I call him The Friendly Giant. He is astoundingly tall and seems to be one of the easiest people in the world to get along with. This cookbook combines many recipes from his television show, as well as some new ones, in one large trade paper book that is stunningly illustrated with fantastic photos for every recipe:
When I saw this photograph for Maple Mustard Grilled Salmon I just had to make it!
Now I did not season the fish like he says to before adding the marinade. That kind of goes against everything I have heard and did not want to dry out the fish. I whisked together equal parts maple syrup and grainy mustard and covered a large fillet of salmon, coating both sides. I did not want to run the risk of grilling it and having the salmon stick so I pan fried it in butter on both sides, finishing it off in the oven. I seasoned the fish with salt and pepper right before pan frying, by the way…
I have had maple salmon before and been unimpressed with its subtlety so to avoid that issue, after I took this photograph, I drizzled it with some more maple syrup. My god, I finally found a salmon recipe that both my husband and I loved! Reg actually said that it was one of the best salmon dishes he had ever had. I give this recipe made this way five out of five wooden spoons. Alright!
Then… the heartbreaking results of making his Classic Chicken Stew and Old-Fashioned Beef Stew. I found them both very basic and boring. Not dishes I would ever make again. I know his “shtick” is to not cook with a recipe but make the recipe your own with your own flavours but still, I will never make either of these again.
My favourite recipe of his I made was his Butterscotch Sauce…
This is perhaps the hardest cookbook I have had to review. I wanted to love it. I think Michael Smith is a great person and I wanted to adore each and every recipe and I don’t. I recipe tested more than usual, just hoping to get consistently positive results, but I didn’t.
The book is gorgeous and beautifully illustrated so it gets full marks when it comes to quality of printing and foodie eye candy. Still, I do not trust these recipes. Every time I seem to have different results so they are very inconsistent. As a result, I have to give the book three out of five wooden spoons.
That said, if you adore the show Chef at Home and like the recipes, I highly recommend this book. Instead of printing out all the recipes and keeping them in a binder, I would honour them by buying this cookbook with its stunning photographs instead. For you, the Michael Smith Chef at Home fan, I give this book four out of five wooden spoons.