by Mabel Suen
The Christmas shopping season is coming, and St. Louis natives Jon Harris and Ari Axelbaum have just the thing for the potential male foodie in your life -- The WiseJack Man's Cookbook. Although the book is geared toward men, it proves useful to any beginning home cook with its straightforward recipes and no-nonsense directions that include all the in-between knowledge that's often missing from the everyday cookbook.
"I never really felt comfortable using a book from my mom's kitchen. They're typically hard to approach, and we thought there was a need for a book that tailored to people like us who didn't have all the experience and knowledge," says co-author Harris.
The book, written from the perspective of fledgling cooks, addresses plenty of basics to begin with and then delves into more specific sections for every occasion including "power breakfasts," "how to pull off a holiday dinner," "energizing snacks" and more. Other chapters like "best meals to surprise your wife or girlfriend" and "how to survive as a bachelor" come directly from the male perspective.
"It's just about helping the average guy," says Harris. "It's versatile because we don't assume that you have to know everything before you do it. We make sure everything's explained, such as details like how to know when something's completely cooked. There's no missing information."
The recipes, developed with help by the team's professional chef Bret Hartman of L'Ecole Culinaire in Ladue, aim to be highly approachable to the amateur cook. The arsenal of recipes can be made without much effort and include everything from kung pao chicken to peach pie, one of Harris' personal favorites.
"Food is very social to us, so our end goal has always been to have more fun with it. Eat with your friends, have a cool party or simply have a better night with your significant other. You don't need to be an expert. Grab a copy of our book to be your guide while starting out," says Harris.
The WiseJack Man's Cookbook is available via their website along with details on the book and sample pages. Tune in to Gut Check tomorrow to view a sample recipe of Shakshukah, or eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce.
For an opportunity to meet the authors this weekend, check out the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival, celebrating Jewish Book Month. The festival began on November 6 and continues through Wednesday, November 16, at 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. Series tickets cost $70, but single-event tickets are also available.
Meet the authors of the WiseJack Man's Cookbook and two other locally written books during "Missouri's Own Program" this Friday, November 11, at 1 p.m. for $15. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets. For more information, call 314-442-2399.