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Bittman, Mark

Bittman, Mark

PERSONAL: Male.

ADDRESSES: Home—Woodbridge, CT. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Broadway Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

CAREER: Chef. New York Times, columnist; Cook's Illustrated, executive editor. Host of PBS television program How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs.

AWARDS, HONORS: IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award, 1995, for Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1994.

Leafy Greens, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1995.

How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Jean-Georges Vongerichten) Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 1998.

The Minimalist Cooks at Home: Recipes That Give You More Flavor out of Fewer Ingredients in Less Time, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Jean-Georges Vongerichten) Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2000.

The Minimalist Cooks Dinner: More Than One Hundred Recipes for Fast, Weeknight Meals and Casual Entertaining, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2001.

The Minimalist Entertains: Forty Seasonal Menus for Dinner Parties, Cocktail Parties, Barbecues, and More, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2003.

How to Cook Everything: Easy Weekend Cooking, Wiley (New York, NY), 2003.

How to Cook Everything: Holiday Cooking, Wiley (New York, NY), 2003.

How to Cook Everything: Quick Cooking, Wiley (New York, NY), 2003.

How to Cook Everything: The Basics: Simple Recipes Anyone Can Cook, Wiley (New York, NY), 2003.

How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian Cooking, Wiley (New York, NY), 2003.

The Best Recipes in the World: More than 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2005.

How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs, Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Prevention and American Health.

SIDELIGHTS: Food writer Mark Bittman has earned critical respect for his direct, informative, but engaging approach to food preparation and enjoyment. In his journalism and his cookbooks, Bittman has built a reputation for promoting simple yet genuine dishes that average readers should be able to cook for themselves. Bittman's background is somewhat unusual among cookbook writers in that he lacks formal training from a culinary school, being instead self-taught. He began his career as a journalist, hoping to become a political writer. He succeeded in making a career as a reporter on various issues, but it was not until he began writing about food that he felt he had truly found his niche.

Bittman's 1994 volume Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking provides over five hundred recipes as well as basic instructions on buying and preparing more than seventy types of fish and shellfish. Library Journal reviewer Judith C. Sutton characterized this work as "a very user-friendly guide" to the basics of fish cooking. She observed that Fish contains more how-to illustrations than many similar books, and noted that its alphabetical organization of material is clear and useful. Sutton added that Bittman's recipes are "simple, varied, and unintimidating." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly expressed similar praise for this "more than ample" book, noting that the author stresses practical commentary without chatty asides. "Anyone with decent access to a fish market," the reviewer concluded, "will appreciate (and come to rely on) this substantial overview." Richard Flaste, in the New York Times Book Review, commended Bittman's "thoroughness and authority" in this work, and argued that his book should be influential in making people more confident and adventurous about eating fish, the world's most healthful source of protein.

In 1998, Bittman created an even more encyclopedic work, How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food. Over nine hundred pages long, the book contains approximately 1,500 basic recipes and variations, as well as information on cooking equipment, food selection, storage, and preparation. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "most accomplished cooks will find little new here," but added that Bittman does include some more innovative recipes, such as kale soup with soy and lime, and curried pork tenderloin sandwich with chutney and arugula. Praising the book's "enormous breadth of recipes … and Bitt-man's engaging, straightforward prose," the reviewer highly recommended How to Cook Everything as a fundamental kitchen reference. New York Times Book Review reviewer William Grimes was more lavish in his praise for the book, which, he found, "strides the world of food in seven-league boots." How to Cook Everything, Grimes wrote, "is a multicultural feast, embracing ethnic foods that have become as American as apple pie." Observing the book's comprehensive scope and informative stance, Grimes also appreciated its reassuring point of view, pointing out that, in his introduction, Bittman stresses that "anyone can cook, and most everyone should." Grimes welcomed Bittman's mission to promote the enjoyment of everyday food, which the author considers a "gift to which all humans are entitled," and concluded: "This is a cookbook whose pages are destined to become stuck together from constant use."

Bittman collaborated with renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who was trained in the classic French tradition and operated restaurants in Singapore and Hong Kong before beginning his successful career in New York City, in Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef. This book was praised for its elegance and approachability by Library Journal reviewer Sutton, who noted that Bittman tested and retested each recipe with Vongerichten and also offered hints on how to simplify some of the more complex presentations.

Bittman created another vast resource with his book The Best Recipes in the World: More Than 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home, which was praised by Mark Knoblauch in Booklist as a "comprehensive collection" that "coheres and avoids becoming a jumble" thanks to the author's unique sensibilities. The book is the product of six years of world travel by the author, who included recipes from some forty countries. Rather than insisting on authentic reproductions of each dish, Bittman modified them to make them practical and simple for busy cooks. "The recipes are terrific in both their variety and execution," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

Bittman shared his cooking philosophy in a book based on his New York Times column, "The Minimalist." According to Linda Richards in January magazine, Bittman is "as opinionated as they come," and this shows in The Minimalist Cooks at Home: Recipes That Give You More Flavor out of Fewer Ingredients in Less Time. Richards called the book "a completely no-nonsense approach to what some would consider haute cuisine," but noted that Bittman's commentary on making exotic-sounding dishes "makes it all look like less work than your grandmother's pot roast. Better still, he shows you how to do it easily, as well." The Minimalist Cooks at Home also promotes the fusion of various cultural traditions in cooking. Richards quoted Bittman as saying that in his home, he has "a terrible kitchen. It's one of the worse kitchens ever. It just doesn't bother me. If I wanted to spend 30,000 dollars on something, it wouldn't be on that."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 1994, Barbara Jacobs, review of Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking, p. 1654; August, 2005, Mark Knoblauch, review of The Best Recipes in the World: More Than 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home, p. 1979.

Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), May 11, 2000, Kathleen Purvis, review of The Minimalist Cooks at Home: Recipes That Give You More Flavor out of Fewer Ingredients in Less Time.

Gourmet Retailer, September, 2005, James Mellgren, review of The Best Recipes in the World, p. 136.

Library Journal, June 15, 1994, Judith C. Sutton, review of Fish, p. 88; November 15, 1998, Judith C. Sutton, review of Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Master Chef, p. 87; February 15, 2000, Judith C. Sutton, review of The Minimalist Cooks at Home, p. 191; September 1, 2000, Wendy Miller, review of Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication, p. 243; August, 2001, Judith Sut-ton, review of The Minimalist Cooks Dinner: More Than 100 Recipes for Fast, Great Weeknight Meals, p. 150; February 15, 2003, Judith Sutton, review of The Minimalist Entertains: Forty Seasonal Menus for Dinner Parties, p. 164; February 15, 2005, Judith Sutton, review of How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs, p. 152; August 1, 2005, Judith Sutton, review of The Best Recipes in the World, p. 115.

Nation's Restaurant News, May 23, 2005, "Amateur Chef Takes on Pros in Cook-off Contests," p. 57.

New York Times Book Review, June 5, 1994, Richard Flaste, review of Fish; December 6, 1998, William Grimes, review of How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food.

Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), January 10, 2002, Cathy Thomas, interview with Mark Bittman.

Publishers Weekly, May 30, 1994, review of Fish, p. 51; August 3, 1998, review of How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, p. 79; February 21, 2000, review of The Minimalist Cooks at Home, p. 81; July 16, 2001, review of The Minimalist Cooks Dinner, p. 176; January 20, 2003, review of The Minimalist Entertains, p. 75; March 14, 2005, review of How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs, p. 61; July 11, 2005, review of The Best Recipes in the World, p. 82; July 25, 2005, Lynn Andriani, profile of Mark Bittman, p. 32.

Restaurant Hospitality, July, 2001, Bob Krummert, review of Simple to Spectacular, p. 26.

ONLINE

How to Cook Everything Web site, http://www.howtocookeverything.tv (February 27, 2006).

January Magazine, http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (February 27, 2006), Linda Richards, profile of Mark Bittman.

Star Chefs.com, http://starchefs.com/ (February 27, 2006), biographical information and interview with Mark Bittman.

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