Family Matters

A cookbook that goes behind the pass
Powell's Books
Right: Duck confit cobbler from Tasting Table's chefs

Come In, We're Closed ($35) is certainly not the first cookbook to cover the restaurant ritual of the staff meal; it is, however, the best.

The book collates the recipes and retellings of off-hours at the world’s finest restaurants, from Au Pied de Cochon in Canada to The Fat Duck in England. Each establishment has its own routine, but one theme emerges: Staff meal is a time for chefs to step down and cooks to prove themselves.

In this way, Come In, We’re Closed might be a glimpse into the emerging creativity of future industry leaders. Some recipes, like deep-fried maki rolls stuffed with braised veal, are credited entirely to a sous-chef or cook. Others approximate team efforts, exploring the interstices between mentor and protégé.

From double cheeseburgers with beef-fat fries to chicken shawarma and curried rice, the book exalts both the making and sharing of food. Inspired, we asked Tasting Table Test Kitchen chef Brendan McHale and sous-chef David Kirschner for their own staff meal recipe. To make their duck confit cobbler (see the recipe), McHale and Kirschner used confit from a previous night’s dinner. For home adaptation, buy confit online or try the recipe with rotisserie chicken.

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