This is a well-designed, delightful, and comprehensive book on French cuisine from Abrams.
239 pp, cloth with gold print over hardback boards with a sewn binding in dustjacket. 3.25 pounds. Index. Bibliography.
The chefs featured in this book include Madame Point, Charles Barrier, Francois Bise, Michel Guerard, Jacques Pic, Alain Chapel, and Roger Verge among others.
The forces behind the birth of this book are food critic Quentin Crewe, the renowned food photographer Anthony Blake, and art director John Bigg. The level of photography here is quite high -- color and b&w work that covers the subject comprehensively: food "portraits" of plated dishes, chefs at work, chefs at home, kitchen staff in action, photographs of the restaurants and their environs. (The dustjacket makes the claim that Blake produced 30,000 exposures over two years of work!) When the photography is combined with the other graphic elements in this book: maps, vintage prints, excerpts from menus, floorplans, and pen-and-ink drawings of kitchen equipment, the illustrations here move from the excellent to the magnificent.
The subject is simple: every 3 star restaurant in France (but not in Paris) in the late 1970's.
The level of detail here is extraordinary. After 30 pp of introductory material on the life of a chef and the history of French cuisine, one gets 12 chapters profiling each chef/restaurant. And the final section, from pp. 176-230, consists of "Chefs at Work: Menus, Recipes, and Advice from the Great Kitchens" which zeros in on how things are actually accomplished, including such topics as "The Living Kitchen of Bocuse," "Visual Enchantment by Outhier," "Closer to the Land at Troisgros," and "Verge: Wild and Infinite Skill."
All in all, here is great book that celebrates 12 extraordinarily successful businesses and which lionizes chefs, yes, but which also seeks to capture the work of 1978 within the larger framework of the French food culture.