Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley

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Ten Speed Press
One of the things I love the most about the whole world of restaurants is the people.  In my career I have had the privilege of meeting literally hundred and hundreds of owners, managers, chefs, cooks, dishwashers, servers and any one else in the game.  Every one has a different story, a different perception of the industry and a different reason for doing what they do every day. 

Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook, is so much more that a cook book.  It is a story.  They story of a strong woman who worked hard to provide for her family by doing what she thought she could do well and that was cook.  The end result was a hugely successful family restaurant that has gained critical acclaim by putting out good honest food. 

The book is divided into very predictable chapter heading for a cook book.  You will find chapters on pie's, main dishes, sauces and much more. The real point of difference here is that every chapter begins with a chapter from the life and time of Mildred Rowe.  While the author weaves you through her life you get a true understanding of where her cooking philosophies and inspiration came from. By the time you get to her recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits  you have a full appreciation of the fact this was not just something she made for her customers, this was a piece of herself that she gave to every one who walked through her door. 

Peppered through out the book are tons of pictures.  Not photo studio perfect plates sprayed with hair spray and Vaseline but pictures of real people cooking, serving and eating real food.  As well there are many very personal pictures so obviously taken right from the cherished family photo albums.     

The book really more of a calibration of a life than a cook book, however do not let the fact that it is filled with outstanding recipes be forgotten.    Bread and butter pickles, black eyed peas and greens, Mildred's original meatloaf and hot applesauce cake are just a few of the gem's you will find. 

So weather you are a food lover looking for insight into the real working life lived by independent restaurant operators, a cooking enthusiast looking for a great spoon bread recipe or an operator yourself looking for inspiration, this heart warming book will be well worth the read. 
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