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A Groundbreaking Thesaurus of Compatible Flavors

The Flavor Bible:
The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity,
Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs

by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs

"The respect and admiration that food professionals have for them gives
[authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg] access to a wonderful depth of
knowledge and experience that they bring to life in their work.”

Chef Daniel Boulud

Tomatoes and basil, lamb and rosemary, apples and cinnamon…These classic combinations have been handed down through the ages. The Challenge: But beyond a few well-known tried-and-true pairings, how do you know what flavors go together?

There is a vast and exciting array of delicious flavorings from around the globe now available on the shelves of grocery stores and gourmet markets – from fennel pollen to kaffir lime to yuzu juice. The Challenge: You’ve bought them all, now what?

Americans have an insatiable appetite for cooking ever since the Food Network and other culinary shows have turned every TV into a virtual 24-hour cooking school. As a result, many home cooks no longer need detailed recipes to be able to make dinner every night. The Challenge: Shouldn’t there be a new genre of “cookbook” that doesn’t merely prescribe recipes, but rather inspires the creation of new dishes based on imaginative and harmonious flavor combinations?

The Solution? THE FLAVOR BIBLE: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs (Little, Brown and Company; September 16, 2008), by award-winning authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, is a groundbreaking culinary reference invaluable to home cooks and professional chefs alike. Filled with thousands of entries – organized alphabetically and cross-referenced – the book provides a virtual goldmine of spectacular flavor combinations for meat, seafood, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and much more.

Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe: it’s knowing how to season and prepare ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor and pleasure from them. Page and Dornenburg draw on the combined experience of dozens of leading chefs from top restaurants across the country, who share their flavor discoveries, cooking techniques, and tips in sidebars such as “Selecting and Using Salt,” “Herbs 101,” and “Pairing Pastas with Sauces.”

THE FLAVOR BIBLE is both an idea starter and a problem solver. Choose any ingredient, cuisine, technique or season, and you’ll find listings of compatible ingredients with a ranking system to indicate flavor matches that are truly stellar, along with those to avoid. For example, there are 150 flavor pairings for chicken as well as suggested accompaniments for four dozen varieties of cheeses. A few other ways to use this book to make you a better cook:

* Think globally. Look up one of more than two dozen different cuisines, and be inspired by characteristic ingredients and flavorings to prepare your next meal.

* Eat locally. Consult the book to determine what ingredients best accompany the day's bounty from the greenmarket.

* Experiment creatively. Create a new dish, or a twist on an old favorite, by experimenting with compatible flavor combinations.

* Cook healthfully. Try new ways of adding flavor to a favorite fish, meat, vegetable, or fruit, instead of over-relying on butter, salt or sugar.

* Live frugally. Use up leftovers in the fridge by looking up compatible flavors for what you already have, so you can create a variety of new dishes.

Cooks of all experience levels will discover the dynamics of flavor, what goes with what, and the secrets of creating “deliciousness” in every dish. Well-seasoned with tips, anecdotes and signature dishes from some of America’s most innovative chefs, THE FLAVOR BIBLE is a must-have reference for every kitchen library.

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About the Authors:

Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg are the bestselling authors of What to Drink with What You Eat, winner of the 2007 IACP “Cookbook of the Year” Award and the Georges Duboeuf “Wine Book of the Year” Award . As featured on “Good Morning America” and “Today,” their previous books Becoming a Chef, Dining Out and The New American Chef have all been winners of or finalists for James Beard and/or IACP Cookbook Awards; and their bookCulinary Artistry is considered a chef cult favorite. Married since 1990, they are the weekly wine columnists for The Washington Post and live in New York City. For more information and to read their blog, visit

The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs
By Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
Little, Brown and Company
September 16, 2008
0-316-11840-0 / 978-0-316-11840-8
$35.00 / $38.50 in Canada
Hardcover; 384 pages, 70 color photographs


What is THE FLAVOR BIBLE and how do you use it?

THE FLAVOR BIBLE is an inspirational idea starter. It is to cooks what a thesaurus is to writers: an invaluable reference tool. It can help you find exactly what you’re looking for in order to put the finishing touches on your creations.

Simply look up any ingredient – from apples to zucchini blossoms – and discover which herbs, spices and other seasonings best complement them. From there, you can be inspired by the examples of leading chefs that are provided, and use your imagination to create new dishes.

Why are there no recipes in this “cookbook”?

A recipe guides you in the preparation of a single dish. A typical cookbook guides you in the preparation of dozens of dishes. THE FLAVOR BIBLE guides you in the preparation of an infinite number of dishes. In freeing you from overly-detailed step-by-step instructions, it opens you up to cooking more intuitively and in the moment.

Why will cooks of all levels need this for their core cookbook collection?

In highly recommending our book, Culinary Artistry, Chef Rocco DiSpirito wrote that when he was a student at the Culinary Institute of America in the 1980s, he used to ask his instructors where to find information on compatible flavors, and he was told that no such book existed. Indeed, none did until we came out with our guide to classic flavor pairings – Culinary Artistry – in 1996. Now, home cooks and professional chefs alike can consult THE FLAVOR BIBLE as a guide to modern flavor pairings.

How do you know when you have the perfect flavor match?

In our last book What to Drink with What You Eat, we described this situation with an equation: “1 + 1 = 3.” A perfect combination of flavors is always greater than the sum of its parts.

How can you use THE FLAVOR BIBLE to cook lighter and healthier dishes?

It’s often tempting to rely on fat – such as butter or olive oil – to add flavor to a dish, instead of going to the trouble to learn which herbs, spices and other flavorings can add as much or more flavor without the extra calories. THE FLAVOR BIBLE makes the hunt for compatible flavors no trouble at all – and their resulting flavors in a dish can be so satisfying that it may help you feel fuller faster and eat less.

How did you compile the lists of compatible flavors for THE FLAVOR BIBLE?

These lists are the result of our painstaking research on modern flavor combinations over the past eight years. We took note of the most compelling flavor combinations we came across first-hand through our restaurant visits, and combed post-2000 menus, restaurant reviews, and cookbooks alike for how the country’s most imaginative chefs were combining flavors in their dishes. We compiled and continually updated a massive database on our computer, which allowed us to track which flavor combinations were cited frequently (those in bold) and most frequently (those in BOLD CAPS).

Why do you think your books on flavor compatibility are so compelling to leading chefs?

Chefs can and do look at other chefs’ cookbooks to inspire their own creativity. But none of them wants to merely duplicate the dishes of a Daniel Boulud or Thomas Keller in their own restaurants – they want to be inspired to create their own masterpieces. These books provide inspiration to chefs while allowing them to come up with creations that they can call their own.

Indeed, 2008 James Beard Outstanding Chef Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago has cited Culinary Artistry as his “most-used cookbook,” as have countless other chefs across the country and around the globe. In a survey of “Top Chef” Season Three contestants, it was the #2 most mentioned cookbook behind The French Laundry Cookbook.

How do your previous books relate to THE FLAVOR BIBLE?

We see our previous books What to Drink with What You Eat (food and drink pairings) and Culinary Artistry (classic flavor pairings) as indispensable companion guides to be used alongside THE FLAVOR BIBLE. Anyone who cares about flavor harmony can benefit from using all three in tandem.

What are your backgrounds?

We’re both avid runners, and have run a half-dozen marathons and countless half-marathons between us. It’s hard to eat and drink for a living and not weigh 300 pounds if you don’t have a passion for some form of exercise.

Andrew: I spent 10 years cooking in the kitchens of some of the best restaurants on the East Coast, working alongside acclaimed chefs such as Chris Schlesinger and Lydia Shire in Boston, and Anne Rosenzweig in New York City. I also studied with the legendary Madeleine Kamman at the School for American Chefs. But I had a very humble start: It was definitely a kick last year when Regis Philbin cited me on “Live with Regis & Kelly” as one of McDonald’s most famous former employees, along with Sharon Stone, Jay Leno, and Jeff Bezos.

Karen: I like to joke that I took “the usual route” to writing about food and wine: I earned a BA in economics at Northwestern, went to Wall Street, worked in publishing, earned a Harvard MBA, worked in strategy consulting, and then went back to publishing before Andrew and I co-authored our first book in 1995. As chef Norman Van Aken likes to say, “This is not a profession that you choose. It chooses you.”

Why does Karen’s name come first on THE FLAVOR BIBLE?

“Because it’s about time!” says Andrew, who had agreed to Karen’s initial suggestion that they list their names alphabetically on the cover of their first book, Becoming A Chef. While Karen has always been the primary conceptualizer and writer, we continued the tradition of listing Andrew’s name first in order to ensure that our books would be grouped together on bookstore shelves. However, we both felt it was time to set the record straight with this book.