Jose Ramirez-Ruiz of Chez Jose
Tell us about your favorite classic cookbook or food-related book and how it transformed your relationship with food or informed your style of cooking.
Well, I first stumbled on Fernand Point’s Ma Gastronomie (the 1974 English version) while changing one night at Clio Restaurant in Boston. I think I was 19 at the time. A coworker had it in its backpack and I asked him what was that bright yellow book and he just lent it to me and told me, “Tell me if you like it, boy.” I took it home that weekend and obsessed over it for the next week or so and I knew then that I had to buy a copy of it. That book really gave me a window into a type of cuisine that I had heard of, but never actually seen recipes, menus and/or photos of. Recipes in that book seemed as foreign as the recipes in some of the “molecular gastronomy” books that were popular at the time. The fact that a lot of the recipes seemed really foreign to me made me have a lot of respect for classic cuisine and its fundamentals and also made me realize how much I didn’t know. I now know that understanding that at a young age was extremely important to me and my career.
Tell us about your favorite modern cookbook and like above, how it transformed your relationship with food or informed your style of cooking.
That’s hard, but I think I could say it is Raw by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein. I found that book at a bookstore in Boston on my day off and then I thought that the entire concept of serving only vegetables–RAW VEGETABLES for that matter–and creating a whole book around it seemed so crazy to me that I had to buy the book. I mean, I think that even by today’s standards it’s still a revolutionary book and when I flip through its pages it’s still a great form of inspiration. Who would have thought then that ten years later I would be serving guests a vegetable-forward menu, right? I guess life is funny like that, you know.
Favorite Brooklyn-based restaurant and why.
Without a doubt, Franny’s! I think John Adler is a great chef, technician, and friend. I have a lot of respect for restaurants that provide consistent food in larger volumes and also restaurants that try to do as much as they can in-house. I can seriously say that I have never had a bad meal there and that alone is amazing.
Jose will be at the Umami Talk + Tasting on Sunday, April 27 at 5 p.m.