Like a brilliantly cut diamond, Sean Mullen's multi-faceted work, Hero Food, shines and sparkles. At once a star chef's work, complete with dazzling recipes, Sean Mullen's Hero Food is also an homage to the 'heroes' of the food world, the stalwart ingredients that taste so good and provide us with so many good nutrients. This is a highly personal book and one that comes from Mullen's experience and heart, satisfying on so many levels that it is a must for any home cookbook library.
Mullen was on a career trajectory with a hot New York City restaurant when he discovered that he had rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disease that has no cure, and can cause considerable pain. He writes, ""As a chef, I've always been aware of the role that food can play in our health, but I never understood just how crucial it was to my own wellness." Knowing that there is no silver bullet to cure his illness, he researched, studied, and experimented until he found those foods that made him feel better, and reduced some of the painful symptoms of RA. In this book, he celebrates those foods, the heroes of the food world, that he believes have helped him go forward with his career as chef, realizing his dream: "a restaurant that fulfills my vision for food and hospitality without compromises." Bravo, Chef Mullen for this integrity.
And bravo for the most luscious recipes that can be found. The book is divided into eighteen chapters, each one celebrating a specific ingredient (see list below). Mullen begins each chapter with a brief discussion of the ingredient, and then continues on to offer recipes that turn the ingredient into a star.
These are recipes designed to please our taste buds. Eating delicious food makes us happy and these are the creations of an inventive chef who is dedicated to healthy food. From soup to nuts (Mullen finds almonds to be a hero), there are recipes for each course of the meal, for each season of the year. You will find such seafood and meat recipes as classic Paella of Chicken and Seafood, Pan Roast of Arctic Char with Sorrel Sauce, Gently Roasted Brown Trout with Summer Squash, Creamy Grits with Slow-Cooked Pork Loin, Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Ricotta, Spice-Rubbed Hanger Steak on the Grill.
Mullen celebrates vegetables with recipes such as Pickled Carrots, Best Grilled Corn in the Husk Farro Salad with Preserved Tuna, Salad of Marble Potatoes, Spicy Rapini with Almonds, Chard Croquettes. And to end an already glorious meal on a sweet, always heroic note, there are recipes such as Blackberry and Almond Crumble, Plum Cake, Raspberries and Yogurt with Buttermilk Crepes, Strawberry Ice Cream, and White Peaches, Pistachios, Honey, and Ricotta.
Quite simply, this is a sensational book, one with the creative inspiration of a chef, and the desire to eat good food, better food, the best food. There are personal notes in the ingredient prefaces, and beautiful color photography throughout by Colin Clark.
These are Mullen's heroes, arranged in the book according to seasonal availability: