"The Endless Table: Recipes from Departed Loved Ones" includes recipes and personal memories from top chefs in the United States, including Ina Garten, Christopher Kimball and Jose Andres. Many are sweet remembrances, like Amanda Hesser sharing her great-grandmother Edith White's pound cake recipe.
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In 2010, Jose Andres taught 16-year-old brain cancer patient David Pearson how to make this paella to incorporate more vegetables into his diet. "That was the beginning of a friendship that gave me more than I gave to David," Andres said. When Pearson passed away in 2012, the first meal they made together became the dish that Andres made for Pearson's loved ones at the celebration of his life.
Jasper White shared his paternal grandmother Aida Padagrosi's recipe for baccala (salt cod) salad. It is one of his favorite dishes and part of an antipasti tradition Padagrosi brought with her from Rome when she emigrated. His grandmother was also the woman who inspired White to cook and become a chef.
The summer that Kathy Gunst was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, she found herself receiving pep talks from her friend and neighbor, Dan, who was dying from esophageal cancer. When Dan's wife brought Gunst a basket of peaches from the tree in their front yard, the chef decided to turn it into a pie full of "healing magic" for Dan. Although he had little appetite because of chemotherapy, Dan had three giant slices. Gunst, who recovered after a year of chemotherapy, still misses her friend.
Christopher Kimball shared his mother's creamed fresh summer corn recipe. She was a school psychologist and also managed the family farm, which Kimball has since inherited. One of his favorite memories is her simple but delicious way of preparing August sweet corn. Kimball still uses the same cornfield and makes this dish in her memory.
When Kathleen Flinn's grandfather passed away in 1972, her mother spent years trying to recreate his blueberry jam recipe without luck because Grandpa Charles never wrote down any specifics. But during a visit to Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina, a few years ago, one bite of a biscuit covered with jam brought tears to Flinn's mothers eyes. They had finally found the right taste and were able to adapt the recipe.
Michael Nischan learned how to cook from his mother by following her around the kitchen from the age of 3. He was able to recreate most of her recipes, except for her beloved chicken and dumplings. When her health began to decline in 2002, he visited her often to preserve the precious time they had left together, and to cook with her. After some trial and error, she tasted his chicken and dumplings and said his favorite words, "almost as good as mine." She passed away not long after that.
Ina Garten and her husband, Jeffrey, are famous for their warm, inviting dinner parties. Garten has a special memory of making this croissant bread pudding, the unanimously favored dessert among her closest friends, for New Year's Eve in 1999. The comfort food dish was the perfect way to begin talking about their wishes for the new millennium.