One of my favorite food shows for years has been Bravo’s “Top Chef” and one of my favorite chefs competing was Brian Malarkey. His upbeat personality, genuine infectious smile and of course his skills of being a chef for more than 20 years caught my eye early on.
When my fellow LinkedIn connection, Amy Stirnkorb of Chefs Press (Brian’s publisher) sent me an array of cookbooks to review, Brian Malarkey’s “Come Early, Stay Late” was the cookbook I wanted to sink my teeth in to, literally. I love cookbooks, and have many of them to boast about. Although I have over 50, there are about five which are prominent in a cupboard in my kitchen that I refer to constantly. Brian’s book is so well written, with his anecdotes thrown in on some of the recipes, and each recipe is complete as it has a beautiful color photo so the reader gets a feel for the dish and what Brian is trying to achieve. This book is now housed in my kitchen as it will be an inspirational cookbook to refer to and one to enjoy for years to come.
Brian breaks down the recipes by his restaurants – Burlap, Gabardine, Searsucker, Gingham and Herringbone – San Diego’s finest. Mimicking my desire to go on “Top Chef,” I picked his “chicken brie sandwich + tarragon aioli” from Searsucker and decided to change it up a bit. Brian serves this sandwich on a ciabatta roll – I used an onion roll for flavor, big mistake as it didn’t hold up to the weight of the ingredients. Brian was right – ciabatta works. Also, the only other change I made was to add a thick-slice of grilled fresh nectarine – I liked the idea as it goes well with the brie cheese. Paired with a cup of my homemade Roasted Tomato Soup, it was a great summer surprise.
If I were you I would run, not walk to your nearest bookstore. One thing that Brian talks about in his introduction is “teamwork” in his restaurants. He therefore gives a lot of credit to his staff and has pictures of them throughout his book. I love this. When I was in culinary school – they couldn’t hit it home any harder than talking about “teamwork” – it’s the heart of any restaurant.
Food Columnist Note: Brian has had a long standing commitment with various charity events and once cooked for the San Diego Liver Foundation Gala. Hats off, Brian!