Reading Nook

Most chefs with Michelin-starred restaurants, plus a classical training and the resume to go with it, would pour all that fancy stuff into their debut cookbook. Glossy cover. Art house photography of white tablecloth dishes and, well, tablecloths. Anecdotes from world-class kitchens. Recipes from one's own world-class kitchen. Not James Syhabout, whose restaurant Commis is the only restaurant in Oakland, Calif., with a Michelin star and who is a veteran of Manresa, the Fat Duck, Coi, Mugaritz and El Bulli -- a heady list of some of the best restaurants in the world.

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