Virant’s First Cookbook Reveals Canning and Preserving Secrets
The executive chef of Western Springs’ renowned and Michelin-starred Vie discusses techniques for seasonal cooking in his “Preservation Kitchen.”
Want to learn to cook, preserve, pickle and can food like Western Springs’ most-acclaimed chef?
On April 3, you’ll have a chance when Paul Virant releases The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux, the Vie (and Perennial Virant) chef’s first cookbook and food-preservation manual.
The book details Virant’s favorite tactics for creating seasonal ingredients like jams, cured meats, aigre-doux conserves, fruit preserves, various canned foods and more. Its second half is devoted to recipes for various multi-course meals made from those ingredients. (One example: a sunroot-with-walnut-butter appetizer, trout with ramp and morel sauce as a main course and a buttermilk ice cream with brandied peaches for dessert.)
Virant, 2005 Food & Wine Best New Chef and a 2011 James Beard Award nominee, has brought numerous fine-cuisine honors to Vie, including a Gayot Restaurant Guide “Top 40 Restaurants in the USA” recognition and a Michelin Guide star rating. Preserving foods and cooking with preserves is one of his specialties, and a cornerstone of the Vie menu.
“It comes from a combination of growing up in the Midwest, where there are distinct growing seasons and preserving food is an old form of sustainability, an old form of allowing people to have food in the wintertime,” Virant said.
“It adds a level of interest to our food which is different than what you find at other restaurants, by combining syruping that’s acidic and balancing it with something rich.”
The cookbook is designed to be precise enough for the seasoned chef but also accessible to the novice canning enthusiast. Virant said he soon hopes to make the recipes in the book easier for home cooks by selling pre-canned preserves from Vie.
“[The book] is a reflection of the style of food that is served at both Vie and Perennial Virant,” Virant promised.
“I’m really excited about it,” Virant said. “I think it’s going to be a very successful book. It’s a lot of hard work, but hopefully it’ll all pay off.”
The Preservation Kitchen (304 pages, $29.99) is co-written by Kate Leahy, features photography from Jeff Kauck, and is published by Ten Speed Press.