Anyone who's ever known a chef--or even anyone whose ever known a man who knows where the kitchen is--knows that both chefs and men have a thing for knives. I found one of these men, a particularly blade-obsessed young chef named Gabriel who has the bright red stain of a full pair of woman's lips on his neck that took me about three months to figure out was a tattoo--and made him My Knife Guy. Gabriel doesn't know he's My Knife Guy, all he knows is that he is sharpening my knife for me, an 8-inch Shun chef's knife given to me by Sara Foster when I was writing her book several years ago. Gabriel is sharpening my knife out of pity. Not pity for me. I mean, he might have felt a little sorry for me, but I'm sure he felt really sorry for the knife. He wouldn't touch my Wushof though; said he didn't understand how they work or something like that, which just goes to show you how deeply into knives he is. Although I have no idea how any knife works, I do know when a knife doesn't work, which ...

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The technical name is "filet knife." It's the right tool for filleting fish. Confession: I love any excuse to buy myself a new piece of kitchen equipment. It could be something as small as the Kuhn Rikon vegetable peeler that all the chefs have in their toolboxes (and that I therefor had to have), or as luxurious as the stainless-steel All-Clad I recently ordered that is but a UPS delivery away. There's just something about getting this stuff that, unlike a new pair of shoes or another tube of lip gloss, makes me feel like I am committing to my life, moving forward in ways that run way deeper than the significance of the item itself. Today, cooking with Matt, I made orata, a whole fish that, at Mozza, is stuffed with herbs, wrapped in a fig leaf, and charred on the grill. Among the many pleasures that I already knew this dish to offer, came the added bonus that in order to make it at home, he explained, which make I must, I get--I mean have--to have a fish knife. "Som ...

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Yesterday in a moment of editorial justice the New York Times ran an article about my friend Susan Spungen and her work on the soon-to-be-released movie, Julie & Julia. Susan is a food stylist, but she's not just any old food stylist. It's arguable that she is responsible for the way in which the food looks in the magazines and cookbooks that we read today. I met Susan 15 years ago in Bridgehampton, when she worked as the food editor for the just-launched Martha Stewart Living. I was the 10 years younger, unemployed and adrift girlfriend of a chef friend of hers.  When I met Susan, I could not believe that someone could get paid working with food--and not being a cook. Se was my idol and then became my friend. Several years later, I read an article in some obscure (to me anyway) design journal that said that Susan's work at Martha Stewart Living had forever changed the look of food on the page. With its soft, pinprick focus, natural light, it had an organic look so delicious you ...

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Here in L.A., when it comes to burgers, people talk about Nancy Silverton's hamburger meat, but strangely, nobody ever mentions her buns. I was making Nancy's classic burger buffet for my family recently, and in addition to the famously fatty blend of 18% fat prime chuck with an extra, whopping 20% fat (that's fat trimmed from all the best cuts of meat) ground in, sold as "Nancy Silverton Grind" at Huntington Meats in the Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax, I went to buy the buns she now also insists on. NS used to serve her burgers on crusty European-style rolls. It's not that I have anything against crusty European-style anything, it's just not what I want in a hamburger bun. Me and her boyfriend, a crime reporter who sometimes writes under the pen name Morty Goldstein, often rebelled and bought soft, cheap grocery store buns for ourselves. Then Nancy found these—Thees Continental Pastries. When I asked the guy behind the counter, who turned out to the be the owner, Thee— ...

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