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on 5 December 2010
I love this book. It looks great, but more than anything, the recipes are fabulous-utterly delicious and yet easy to follow. Yes there are some unusual and probably hard to get ingredients unless you go foraging in hedgerows, but almost always there are easily obtained alternatives suggested and many recipes are beautifully simple. So often celebrity chefs just want to show you how clever they are, but what comes across here is a chef who actually wants you to cook his food, and when you have? Well, it is sublime.
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VINE VOICEon 4 November 2006
In his Foreword Gordon Ramsay says, "It is a genuine pleasure to have been asked to write the foreword to David Everitt-Matthias' insightful book, Essence." I have to say it was a genuine pleasure for me just to read through this book from cover to cover . . . mind you I did get so hungry that I had to stop for an early lunch.

Is this just another Michelin star chef cashing in on his prestigious awards or is it something more? You could be forgiven for thinking so, having randomly opened the book and seen a recipe for 'Cannelloni of veal breast and burdock with celeriac cream, horseradish froth and wood sorrel'. Frightening, and you could be forgiven for thinking this book is for professional chefs. However, you would be wrong!

This has to be one of the most exciting and interesting books about food and cooking I have read in a long time. David Everitt-Matthias is no celebrity chef writing a book to fulfil his media commitments or to cash in on TV fame. This is a delightful introduction to the cooking of a great chef and in such a way that you or me can understand the recipes . . . and cook them! None of the recipes are include for show, they are all working recipes included with the intention that anyone should feel capable of cooking them with success.

All right, if you have trouble cooking an egg then perhaps this book is not for you. But if you enjoy your food and you enjoy cooking then this books is very much one to add to your collection. There are some truly wonderful recipes throughout but the book is a great read in itself for how it explains so much about the food and what is involved in the preparation and cooking of each dish.

Essence opens with a brief Introduction followed by advice entitled 'storecupboard', described as ". . . some of the standbys we use in the restaurant kitchen. It certainly makes life easier to have them on hand and you'll find they appear in a lot of the recipes in this book." This is followed by 'foundations' - "Good cooking depends on good foundation recipes - for stocks, pasta dough, pastry an so on." Armed with your basics the main section of the book is recipes from le champignon sauvage - starters, mains and desserts.

This is one chef who knows how to write a recipe so that his readers can understand it and, because each one is broken down into its individual components is not at all daunting. Each recipe has its own introduction which explains the dish and how its flavours work together and at the same time provides alternatives to those often difficult to find ingredients. The recipes are then broken down, both for ingredients and method, into the component parts of the dish making the whole thing easy to follow. To really understand how simplified the author has made the recipes you need to have a look at one or two.

Something David Everitt-Matthias is very keen to use in his cooking when the opportunity presents itself is wild ingredients - wild garlic, nettles, ground elder and many more - and the book closes with a wild food glossary, plus photographs, which describes many of the plants and mushrooms used.

Would I recommend the book? Definitely. There are some amazing recipes but also there are so many elements to each dish and so many different techniques explained that you cannot fail to learn something new and benefit from this book whether you are a relative beginner or an experienced hand in the kitchen.
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on 23 November 2010
A fabulous book with the intention to inspire. It has a very down to earth basis but will bring your cooking level up a notch with elegance and style. There are suggestions how to adapt recipes with other ingredients, which I love. It has a good essential store cupboard section including delicious pickled apple and another detailed section on foraging. In the starters section it also has nibbles, the gougeres cheesy biscuits will impress. Some recipes have unusual combinations of flavours with out going overboard but will entice you to experiment as well. Well worth buying as it is a step further on from the books with basics, definitely an essential book with essential flavours!
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on 25 October 2006
If you're lucky enough to have eaten at Le Champignon Sauvage, you'll know just how wonderful the food is. This book is a stunning and fitting representation of David Everitt-Matthias's wonderful double-Michelin-starred food. What at first appears to be a daunting array of multi-layered dishes as they would appear in the restaurant is, on closer inspection, a collection of detailed recipes that can be deconstructed in such a way that one can unite separate elements from different recipes to make the dish they want. This is an ingenious way of presenting genius food: a pick 'n' mix of the highest order.

There are wonderful inclusions of rare and wild ingredients -- leaning towards David's passion for hedgerow ingredients (which is appendicised into a handsome wild food glossary at the back of the book) -- with sensible more widely available alternatives suggested to make sure that all of the recipes remain within the capabilities of the home cook.

The book is beautifully photographed, showcasing David's fine eye for presentation and the intrinsic beauty of each dish and component part.

And if this note or praise doesn't convince, then read the words of two of the few who could genuinely be regarded as David's peers: a glowing foreword by Gordon Ramsay and a couple of dozen words on the back of the book from Heston Blumenthal: they sum up the significant contribution to this country's cuisine that Everitt-Matthias has made over the last twenty years.

Essence is a singular and stunning book by one of the most talented, dedicated and insprirational chefs around.
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on 4 February 2009
A truly great must have book for every aspiring cook. Precise instruction makes it easy to follow for any cook with an average skill. I have used this book many times to create wondurful dinner parties that have impressed all of my friends. The only downside is that some of the ingredients are a little hard to get hold of for your every day shopper. Apart from that a must for every cooks bookshelf.
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on 7 December 2011
The person I bought this book for, a chef, liked it so much he went straight out and bought the dessert book. Highly recommended!
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VINE VOICEon 4 November 2006
You know that this book has to be something special for Gordon Ramsay to have written the Foreword . . . or perhaps it puts you off, making you think the publishers are using his name to sell a book that does not have the qualities needed to succeed on its own merits!

Well, you can rest assured that this book does not let Gordon Ramsay or its author, David Everitt-Matthias, down. It is an excellent and very good book, in fact amongst all the food, recipe and cooking books that are published every year this stands out as one of the gems.

In his Foreword Gordon Ramsay says, "It is a genuine pleasure to have been asked to write the foreword to David Everitt-Matthias' insightful book, Essence." I have to say it was a genuine pleasure for me just to read through this book from cover to cover . . . mind you I did get so hungry that I had to stop for an early lunch.

Essence confirmed my worst fears . . . another missed opportunity. I lived in Cheltenham for several years, in fact I moved there the year le champignon sauvage was awarded its first Michelin Star, but somehow or another I never got the time or the opportunity to eat there. Having read the book I now know what I missed!

Is this just another Michelin star chef cashing in on his prestigious awards or is it something more? You could be forgiven for thinking so, having randomly opened the book and seen a recipe for 'Cannelloni of veal breast and burdock with celeriac cream, horseradish froth and wood sorrel'. Frightening, and you might even be thinking this book is for professional chefs only. However, you would be wrong!

David Everitt-MatthiasThis has to be one of the most exciting and interesting books about food and cooking I have read in a long time. David Everitt-Matthias is no celebrity chef writing a book to fulfil his media commitments or to cash in on TV fame. This is a delightful introduction to the cooking of a great chef and in such a way that you or me can understand the recipes . . . and cook them! None of the recipes are included for show, they are all working recipes included with the intention that anyone should feel capable of cooking them with success.

All right, if you have trouble cooking an egg then perhaps this book is not for you. But if you enjoy your food and you enjoy cooking then this book is very much one to add to your collection. There are some truly wonderful recipes throughout, but the book is a great read in itself. It explains so much about the food and what is involved in the preparation and cooking of each dish.

Essence opens with a brief Introduction followed by advice entitled 'storecupboard', described as:

". . . some of the standbys we use in the restaurant kitchen. It certainly makes life easier to have them on hand and you'll find they appear in a lot of the recipes in this book."

This is followed by 'foundations':

"Good cooking depends on good foundation recipes - for stocks, pasta dough, pastry and so on."

Armed with your basics the main section of the book is recipes from le champignon sauvage - starters, mains and desserts.

This is one chef who knows how to write a recipe so that his readers can understand it and, because each one is broken down into its individual components, is not at all daunting. Each recipe has its own introduction which explains the dish and how its flavours work together and at the same time provides alternatives to those often difficult to find ingredients. The recipes are then broken down, both for ingredients and method, into the component parts of the dish making the whole thing easy to follow. To really understand how simplified the author has made the recipes you need to have a look at one or two.

Something David Everitt-Matthias is very keen to use in his cooking when the opportunity presents itself is wild ingredients - wild garlic, nettles, ground elder and many more - and the book closes with a wild food glossary, plus photographs, which describes many of the plants and mushrooms used, finishing with a beautiful photograph of David with his two Boxer dogs and one of his chefs foraging in the woodland. (I was bound to like that photograph having three Boxers of my own!)

Would I recommend the book? Definitely. There are some amazing recipes - you cannot fail to learn something new and benefit from this book whether you are a relative beginner or an experienced hand in the kitchen.
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on 1 December 2006
Unlike the dumbed-down recipes that appear in many of the books attributed to top chefs, these are dishes that David Everitt-Matthias has actually put in front of the paying customers in his Michelin 2 star restaurant. Dishes are broken down into their individual components with a clear explanation of how each is prepared and the presentation on the plate is beautifully photographed.

David E-M clearly wants readers to be able to take lessons from this book into their own kitchens without necessarily reproducing any of his dishes in their entirety. Thus he emphasises that his recipes are not set in stone but are there to be borrowed from or adapted.

Nonetheless, seeing the imagination and technical skill involved in these dishes will make many readers reach for the phone to book a table rather than head for the kitchen. A very wise move! Quite how David E-M managed to produce food like this for many years with only one other chef in the kitchen is baffling - even after a recent expansion there are only four of them serving 40 covers. And, as every article written about Champignon Sauvage seems to mention, David E-M has never missed a service in its 19-year history.
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If you want to recreate Michelin star food for dinner parties this is the book for you. The recipes are actually the ones used at 'Le Champignon Sauvage' Michelin 2 star restaurant in Cheltenham. Though they all comprise several components and take a while to prepare the instructions are clear and precise including how to assemble the finished dishes. The forward interestingly is written by Gordon Ramsay but this book is far superior in recipe quality to any of his watered down offerings.
David Everitt-Matthias deserves every success with this bible.
Simply Superb!
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on 16 July 2008
This isn't a cookbook for the faint-hearted. It is a genuine restaurant book that gives you the precise recipes for some of David's most famous dishes.
The instructions are clear and, much more importantly, they work. David's use of seasonal, British produce and wild ingredients makes for one of the most interesting and pleasing books around. I can't recommend this book and everything I have ever made from it has blown people away.
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