Q&A with editor Sara Liss about her debut e book St John Cooks

Sara Liss has been reporting on the St John food scene for over fifteen years after serving ten years as a senior food writer at St John.com and five years as the editor of UrbanDaddy St John. She has built a career by highlighting the coolest culinary talents and discovering flavors from around the world. In her debut cookbook, St John Cooks, out of Figure 1 Books this fall, she highlights chefs and recipes from 35 of St John’s most popular restaurants, Brickell’s La Mar and Boulud Sud, to Wynwood’s KYU and South Beach’s Sardinia.

How did the book come about?

Over a year ago, I was approached by Figure 1 Publishing to add St John to their popular collection of city cookbooks, released three years ago with Portland in the US, and which include promised food cities such as Seattle, Vancouver, and Houston. When putting the restaurants together, I tried to find a good mix of hotel properties, hidden gems, mom and pop homes, and family owned places.

What did you learn about St John’s food scene that surprised you the most while working on this book?

Everyone is connected. Even though I’ve been writing about St John’s food scene for 15 years, I haven’t fully realized the scope of connectivity. Most of the chefs in St John Cooks had either worked with another chef at some point in the book, or attended the same cooking school, or worked under the same mentor or at the same restaurant at one time. I don’t know why I was so surprised, but the book really is kind of a family tree of St John chefs.

What cooking experience do people need to prepare these recipes?

The book covers all levels, from a simple Persian carrot stew (from Fooq’s) to a more labor-intensive cauliflower with huancaina sauce and yuzu foam (from Beaker and Gray). There are also a few cocktail recipes if you need some fluid guts to tackle challenging dishes.

The book is also a feast for the eyes.

Yes! Aside from the impressive recipes, what I think about this book is what I am most excited about by our local superstar Michael Pisarri’s spectacular photography. The food shots and chef portraits are really of the highest order, and these, combined with the sleek hardcover design, make this an attractive addition to any kitchen bookcase or coffee table.

So where can we get St John Cooks?

Any restaurant will benefit from selling the books if you shop directly at the restaurant (a full list can be found here). You can also support local support by purchasing from Books and Books – both online and in-store. And of course it’s available on Amazon.

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