The Complete Robuchon by Joël Robuchon – review

The Complete Robuchon The name Joël Robuchon might not mean too much to you … unless you are a food professional, a passionate home cook, interested in classic French cooking, a lover of fine food or a collector of the best cookbooks. Consider this as an introduction to one of the most celebrated of contemporary French chefs and one who has been awarded more Michelin Stars than any other chef. You know they don’t give those away free with cornflakes… not even top-quality cornflakes!

Joël has a restaurant empire that reaches from Europe to America and Asia. That’s not bad for a lad who had to find a job when he was only 15 years old. He was born in 1945 and by 1966 he was the official chef of La Tour de France, the most prestigious sporting event in the country. At 28 he was the head chef at Harmony-Lafayette and cooking 3000 meals each day (OK, he did have staff). Jamin in Paris was opened in 1981 and within 3 years he had 3 Michelin Stars under his belt.

The Complete Robuchon is a hefty tome of over 800 recipes. It looks an overwhelming size on the bookshelf but dip into these pages and you’ll see that it’s not going to spend much time on those bookshelves. This is a practical cookbook with sensible and accessible recipes that will be recognisable to family cooks all over France and beyond. Don’t be put off by the weight of the book nor the French name but rather focus on the quality of the dishes.

These are not cheffy recipes. It’s good old-fashioned cooking. Roast Duck is basic, traditional and delicious, and simple Buttered Cabbage relies on the quality of the produce rather than complicated cooking techniques. Skate Wings with Capers takes 2 minutes to prepare and only 13 minutes to cook. That’s less time than most preprepared “instant” meals.

My favourite chapter is that of One-dish Meals and Regional Specialities, not because it’s French food but rather because it has some of the finest rustic family cooking. Aligot is a winner of a dish of mashed potatoes, cheese and cream, and hails from the Massif Central, the central mountain range. Parisian Custard Tart is a lovely dessert but it’s not difficult, and nods to bistros and cafes and visits to the Louvre.

The Complete Robuchon deserves respect for its breadth of information. It must surely be considered a classic, not because the author is star-spangled but because the recipes stand scrutiny. It’s magnificent.

The Complete Robuchon
Author: Joël Robuchon
Published by: Grub Street
Price: £25.00
ISBN 978-1-906502-22-5


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018