Though I've written cookbooks with six of the top chefs in the countryincluding Daniel Boulud and David BouleyI still learn something every time I team up with someone new. While my job is to translate restaurant dishes for the home cook, the work goes well beyond that: It involves getting inside each chef's head. The professionals I've worked with are all brilliant, with temperaments that run the gamut from generous to gran-diose to needyall in an afternoon. In order to channel their creativity into their books, I have to be more than just a writer and a cook. I'm also, in turn, psychologist, cheerleader, mother, groupie, disciplinarian, critic and, in every case, friend.
All of this has changed not only the way I cook, but the way I understand food. Does that make me slightly schizophrenic in my own kitchen? Absolutely. When I cook on my own, I can't help but hear these chefs' voices, so I'm always merging ideas to create something new. Here, then, are six of my current favorite recipes, adapted from my collaborations with chefs. At least, they are my favorites for now. I'll probably find new favorites once I start the next book, with the next chef.
Melissa Clark is working on her own cookbook, Chef Interrupted, due out in 2005.