Loving Lickerland

Just when I thought I had seen every "cool" cover possible for a cookbook along comes James Beard nominee Jason Licker's pastry book "Lickerland." Pulling the book from its envelope, my immediate reaction was "wow, it's a rock album!" From its cover, you would never guess you were holding a pastry book--and I love it that way. When I mentioned this to chef Jason he replied, "That was the whole idea.... go against the grain and do something that people will actually want to read." And he's accomplished exactly that. This book is a fun foray into pastry flavors that go against the grain, a result of Jason's highly successful career leading pastry kitchens in some of Asia's most prestigious hotels, and where he developed an intense passion for Asian ingredients, incorporating them into inventions such as Cherry-Yuzu Chiffon Cake, Asian Pear Crostata, Thai Tropicalé, and Dulcey & Saikyo Miso Puff--all recipes he shares in his book.

Jason's story about his relationship with food as a kid is a fun read, and one I identify with so spot on (as I imagine most American kids would): "Breakfast commenced with towering pillars of nutrition such as Cookie Crisp and Peanut Butter Captain Crunch" (one of my faves, too!). When you embrace every part of who you are and who you were, it introduces a purity into what you create.

Other notable parts of the book: "Licker's Ingredients World Map" depicting the areas of the world and the specific markets where he buys his favorite ingredients, and his "Licker Laws" (I'm sure he must have been teased as a kid about his last name, but what an awesome name to have as a pastry chef) where he lists his top ten points of wisdom for approaching pastry. Speaking of wisdom, my favorite quote from the book? "You learn by making mistakes, by screwing up. It's just like the old saying goes, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs."

Check out Jason's book and his website at jasonlicker.com and let me know what you think.