Today we’re running series of posts about (and/or hijacked from the book Fancy Desserts, written by) Brooks Headley. Do enjoy.
I spent an hour with Brooks Headley a couple years ago when his band passed through the dining room of a restaurant I work at in San Francisco. The emails had been murky and puzzling: “a nine minute set, some time between three and five p.m.” There was no publicity and no specific start time. I didn’t realize people did that. Brooks and his band pulled up at three p.m. (as promised, which is impressive because they came straight from Tijuana). We moved some tables, bought some extension chords, and then it got very loud. The Chinese ladies continued their afternoon mahjong with ears half covered, and an audience of seven formed on the sidewalk.
The thesis of Fancy Desserts is in the foreword. It starts, “What you’re eating is actually the totality of the life of the cook…” And the recipes are full of heart, wisdom, finesse, and humor; they communicate savvy techniques and the logic behind them, which can help you accomplish making something look “simultaneously insanely elegant and totally stupid.” The rest of the book is like a culinary Matthew Barney exhibit accompanied by anthropological fables unraveling the human condition from the “BOH” perspective. Some of the morals: “That there is glamour to be found in in the unglamorous” and “That true hospitality is noble and selfless.” These pearls of wisdom communicate what it means to be a cook, and rather than come across as forced, Brooks pulls it off with the same humble and nonchalant flair as an impromptu punk show at Mission Chinese Food. —Anthony Myint, Mission Chinese Food