We’ve fallen hard for the Pok Pok cookbook, which in our humble opinion is a lock for an IACP or James Beard cookbook award — the highest honors given in an industry that has had an incredibly prolific fall. Since an advance copy arrived at our offices a few months back, we’ve been working our way through not just the recipes, but the essays and personal stories from chef Andy Ricker’s two-decades cooking and eating around Thailand. To say this book is dense with information is an understatement. It’s like a ton of concrete. There's a 1,500-word story about the tale of two Isann minced meat salads, followed by a 23-ingredient recipe followed by a 16-ingredient recipe. That's the tale of two weekend projects. Sign us up.
Much of the credit for Pok Pok's success goes to Ricker, a meticulous dude who poured years and years into the writing of the book. But credit also goes to his co-writer, a New Jersey-based journalist named J.J. Goode. Goode has become a sort of Erik Spoelstra figure in the small cookbook collaborating business (we’ll call Mr. Toqueland Andrew Friedman the Phil Jackson). Goode has written books with a really interesting mix of chefs, from April Bloomfield’s seasonal European spunkiness to two books deep-digging regional Mexican cooking with Roberto Santibañez. He’s also worked with Zak Pellaccio, Adam Perry Lang and Morimoto (his first collaboration). And all this excellent work despite the use of only one hand, the result of a congenital disorder called radial aplasia.
In a new episode of the Clean Plates podcast, Amateur Gourmet’s Adam Roberts finds out more about Goode’s unique position in the food world. “She would say these things that were so English, and awesome,” says Goode on his time working with Bloomfield. No, you sir are pretty awesome, too.