Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

May 2, 2013

Local chef-educator debuts culinary textbook

TRAVERSE CITY — “World cuisine” wasn’t a term when Nancy Krcek Allen went to culinary school in the 1980s.

“I think I had a class on German food and Chinese food and that’s it,” said Allen. “And I was in San Francisco, which was a hotbed of different cultures.”

Now Allen is bringing world cuisine to culinary students around the country through her textbook, “Discovering Global Cuisine.” The 900-page, full-color book was published March 15 by Pearson Prentice Hall and is available to home cooks on Amazon.com and at Brilliant Books.

A chef-educator and food writer based in Leelanau County, Allen spent nearly five years on the textbook, which was designed for culinary school curriculums. It covers the food of 20 countries, including recipes and tips and techniques for making them.

“It’s a great reference book. It has tons of information,” said Allen, who hopes to promote the book to home cooks as well as culinary students. “They might only study three or four cuisines of the 20 but they might take it with them in their work world and they have this wonderful resource.”

A graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Allen first learned to cook globally on her own. Later she studied and traveled with home cooks and chefs including Julie Sahni and Barbara Tropp, award-winning authors, teachers and pioneer chefs credited with introducing Indian and Chinese cuisines to America.

“When I was young, before culinary school, I would cook through an entire cuisine for six months and then not cook it again. That’s how I learned it,” Allen said. “Over the last 20 years there’s just been an explosion of people wanting to eat different flavors. And now it’s just crazy, there’s one after the other.”

In creating the textbook, Allen drew on her experience writing curriculum for the Institute for Culinary Education in New York, where she worked for six years, and on 20 years of teaching cooking privately and at Northwestern Michigan College Extended Education, Chateau Chantal and Petoskey-based Learn Great Foods, among other places. She also did extensive research and recipe testing, from reading to traveling to India to learn more about the country’s food, particularly in the southern region.

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