Each spring when I sit down to create my summer menu, I reach into my cookbook closet to pick out some of my favorite books. I look to add something new to my repertoire. Every great chef I have ever known has always had a ton of cookbooks. Sometimes I can’t find the books I need because I either gave them away or loaned them to someone never to be seen again. I guess that someone needed it more than I did at the time, sort of like when I would loan out heavy black rosary beads. If people who knew me were taking a trip, they would come and ask me if they could borrow my beads for safety, and would return them when they came back from vacation, when they no longer had use for them.
Since I am down a couple of books this year and have no idea where they are, I decided to fill the gap with a new book, Marc Murphy’s Season with Authority, edited by Olga Massov of the food blog Sassy Radish. Until I picked up the book, I really only knew about Chef Marc from the Food Network’s Chopped show, where he was a regular judge. I always appreciated his good advice to chefs on the show, as well as his sincere demeanor. I also knew he worked with Chef Terrance Brennan and for the legendary restaurateur Drew Nieporent at Layla. I was especially curious about Chef Marc’s book because I know he has a restaurant in the city called Ditch Plains and a house out east as well. For these reasons, I thought this title might be a critical Hamptons book for this summer. (While every year we get new cookbooks or entertainment books by some significant Hamptonites, it’s nice to see one written by a true chef like Mr. Murphy.)
Chef Marc’s cookbook is part interesting autobiography and part great recipes. Right off the bat, in reading the Acknowledgements, I learned that Chef Marc has come far. He thanks some pretty awesome guys who he is tight with, a stellar group of chefs and restaurant owners. He goes on to talk about the fact that even though he was born into what most people would consider a fortunate environment, one with a diplomat father who lived and worked in Italy and France (where his dad met his French mother), he found difficulty in all the traveling he did and different schools he attended, not to mention his undiscovered dyslexia. He did terribly in school and usually played the class clown to cover up his disability.
Chef Marc’s cooking story begins after following the footsteps of his older brother and attending Peter Kump’s cooking school in NYC. (On a personal note, Peter Kump had quite the reputation when I started cooking. I met some epic cooks who were graduates. Peter Kump was also the founder of the James Beard Foundation. He died much too young at 57 here in Easthampton. His school is now known as the Institute of Culinary Education.) After cooking school, Chef Marc went to France, and then ended up coming back to NY where he was hired by Terrance Brennan and where he found his home in cooking. Later he returned to France—which was easy for him to do because of his dual passport due to his French mother— to work in Monte Carlo for Alain Ducasse. The rest is history. Besides his New York City restaurants, he also owns Benchmarc Events; all in all he has over 500 employees.
Season with Authority contains many of the dishes from the restaurants Landmarc and Ditch Plains, which he started with his wife and partner Pamela. Initially, I was surprised to see a simple Caesar salad in the book and thought “C’mon Marc Murphy, teach me something new and awesome!” But I soon realized that many of the items in the book, as well as in his restaurant, are spinoffs of traditional American favorites and are well worth reproducing and sharing with the guests of The Rose Hill Estate this summer.
One recipe that I look forward to trying is Chef Marc’s spin on lox called “Everything Bagel” Cured Salmon, which he devised to go along with the Everything bagels that he loves so much. Other notable items I plan to put on the Rose Hill tables include: Duck Confit Hash; Yogurt Pancakes; Pain Perdu; Zucchini, Pecorino, and Mint Salad; Grilled Romaine Tossed in Lemon; and Grilled Salmon with Parsley Pistou. I also love the Pork Chops with Apple and Caramelized Onions—that’s not something you see every day for sure! Chef Marc completes the book with a solid dessert section (especially for a chef!) with some exciting sweets that I will be trying soon, like Pistachio Tiramisu, Salted Caramel Pudding, and Nutella Eclairs.
Thank you, Chef Marc Murphy, for these inspiring recipes that I will be using in the Hamptons this summer season! (I also look forward to heading into the city to try the Croque Monsieur, Marc’s favorite sandwich, from the source himself.)