At Home with the Sussman Brothers

“Well, but this is perfect!” I tell Max Sussman. “This is just the best idea ever.” Max, who—until just a few months ago—was chef de cuisine at Roberta’s, smiles at me from across the kitchen, hands me half of a luridly red strawberry, and then pops the other half in his mouth. “I know,” he said. “I’m glad you like it.” “It” is a recipe I happen upon when flipping through the cookbook that Max and his brother Eli, who is sous-chef at Mile End, published last fall. In This Is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life, the Sussman brothers managed to create something that, yes, is as literal as the title suggests, but is also so much more. Full of witty asides and divided into sections like Midnight Snacks, Lazy Brunch, and Night In (“this chapter is about sex”), the book works for anyone from a home cook who barely knows how to boil water, to one who is ready to tackle the perfect roast leg of lamb. And unlike some cookbooks which work better as decorative coffee table books than as actual guides to cooking, This Is a Cookbook is full of recipes that you actually want to make and then, you know, eat. The recipe that I couldn’t help but exclaim over was one for a classic chicken schnitzel that incorporates salt-and-vinegar potato chips into the breading mixture. Which, well, that’s just brilliant. It’s the kind of tweak that can elevate a dish to a whole other level, and it’s the kind of recipe upgrade that most home cooks could never think of themselves, but which just about anyone could pull off.

Photo by Rory Gunderson

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