Relae: A Book of Ideas

Relae: A Book of Ideas

by Christian F. Puglisi


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Written as a series of interconnected essays—with recipes—Relæ provides a rare glimpse into the mind of a top chef, and the opportunity to learn the language of one of the world’s most pioneering and acclaimed restaurants.

Chef Christian F. Puglisi opened restaurant Relæ in 2010 on a rough, run-down stretch of one of Copenhagen’s most crime-ridden streets. His goal was simple: to serve impeccable, intelligent, sustainable, and plant-centric food of the highest quality—in a setting that was devoid of the pretention and frills of conventional high-end restaurant dining. Relæ was an immediate hit, and Puglisi’s “to the bone” ethos—which emphasized innovative, substantive cooking over crisp white tablecloths or legions of water-pouring, napkin-folding waiters—became a rallying cry for chefs around the world. Today the Jægersborggade—where Relæ and its more casual sister restaurant, Manfreds, are located—is one of Copenhagen’s most vibrant and exciting streets. And Puglisi continues to excite and surprise diners with his genre-defying, wildly inventive cooking.

Relæ is Puglisi’s much-anticipated debut: like his restaurants, the book is honest, unconventional, and challenges our expectations of what a cookbook should be. Rather than focusing on recipes, the core of the book is a series of interconnected “idea essays,” which reveal the ingredients, practical techniques, and philosophies that inform Puglisi’s cooking. Each essay is connected to one (or many) of the dishes he serves, and readers are invited to flip through the book in whatever sequence inspires them—from idea to dish and back to idea again. The result is a deeply personal, utterly unique reading experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607746492
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 11/11/2014
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 534,543
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 10.60(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

CHRISTIAN F. PUGLISI is the chef and owner of Relæ, which holds a Michelin star and was ranked one of the top 100 restaurants in the world by Restaurant magazine. Relæ and its sister restaurant, Manfreds, are both located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Puglisi has worked in the kitchens at elBulli, Noma, Røgeriet, and more, and is a contributor to the Danish newspaper Politiken. The Wall Street Journal selected him as one of the top ten chefs in the world under thirty.

Read an Excerpt


When I opened Relæ in 2010, the last thing I wanted was for it to be just another fine dining restaurant. Our entire philosophy is grounded in the idea that conventional fine dining—with its big round tables, waitstaff showing you the way to the toilet and constantly scraping the crumbs off the thick tablecloth, jazz music piping through the speakers—has little do with the way people actually want to eat. Rather, we want the dining experience at Relæ to be simple and unpretentious, focusing solely on gastronomy. Everything else—all those unnecessary details—is stripped away. We describe our restaurant’s philosophy as “cut to the bone.”

Similarly, when I sat down to write this book, I didn’t want it to be a conventional cookbook that readers were expected to page through from cover to cover. I could have written it the easy way: line up fifty to one hundred recipes and scatter some pictures throughout. But my goal was not just to give you an introduction to the food we do and make it possible for you to cook it yourself. I wanted to show you the creative process behind our work and the ideas that inform the fundamentals of our kitchen.

As I was thinking about this book, I realized that all our dishes are interconnected by the ideas behind them—the practical ideas, theoretical ideas, and technical ideas. The dishes themselves are the most superficial expression of our work. Rather than just list the ingredients and step-by-step methods for each dish, I felt it was more useful to actually articulate the concepts that underlie them.

To be honest, I rarely read cookbooks, though I love to buy them. I have shelves and shelves lined with colorful covers emblazoned with big chefs’ names writing about everything from nose-to-tail cooking to German fine dining. That said, I rarely have time to read them, and whenever I do grab one, I impatiently open it up, flip through a few pages, and then close it again. Maybe I’ll pick it up later and take another peek. Admittedly, I never cook from others’ recipes; I want to put my imprint on everything I do. I might be interested in how Fergus Henderson cooks trotters, but ultimately I will use his work as inspiration and find my own way of cooking them.

I want you to use the recipes in this book in the exact same way. Feel free to look up a dish and cook it exactly as it is written on the page. But I would be even happier if you plunged into this book just to see how we pickle mackerel, how we plate that dish with cauliflower, and then have a go at it yourself. I want you to grab this book, open it like a deck of cards, and flip to whatever attracts you. Once a dish has captured your attention, take a look at the handful of ideas listed at the bottom of the page; hopefully that sparks your curiosity and leads you to another spot in the book with another list of interconnected dishes and ideas. Each dish in this book is grounded on a set of ideas—and each idea is the basis for several other dishes, dishes you can then jump to and have a look at. Everything is connected in a sort of web in which one thing springs out of another in a big hot pot of inspiration, hard work, and craft. I want you to mix and match all these ideas and thoughts. Take what you can use, throw away what you don’t like, and make it your own. That is what the cooking at Relæ is about, and I hope that that’s what this book inspires you to do.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Chad Robertson

Chapter 1: The Groundwork
The Initial Idea
Locavorism: When It Makes Sense, and When It Does Not
Organic: Is a Certification All That?
Breaking Bread: The Cornerstone of an Ideal Meal

Chapter 2: Ideas on a Plate

Fruit Vinegars
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Hindsholm Pork

Jerusalem Artichokes
Celery Root
Unripe Strawberries
Crab Apple

Coastal Fish
Sea Lettuce

Pickling Fruits and Vegetables
Pickling Fish
Cooking in Butter Emulsion
Cooking Salads
Precision Cooking
Barely Cooking
Nut Milks
Hiding on the Plate

Contrasting Temperatures
Vegetable Skins
Salting and Brining Vegetables
Salting and Brining Meats and Fish
Juiciness, the Natural Sauce

Butter and Bitter
Charred and Grilled
Toasted and Nutty
A Touch of Umami
Meat with Seafood

Building onto a Dish 
Evolving a Technique 
Challenging the Guest 
Vegetables over Meat 
Intertwining Flavors 
Savory Desserts 
Nose-to-Tail Cooking 
Leaf-to-Stem Cooking 
Creativity Is in All of Us
Where Is the Cheese Trolley? 


Chapter 3: Dishes 225

Herb Bouquet 
Celery Root Taco 
Grilled Jerusalem Artichokes
Grilled Corn
Shallots and Nigella 
Kornly Cracker
Oxalis Roots

Herbivorous Starters 
Unripe Strawberries, Cress, and Buttermilk 
Sheep’s Milk Yogurt, Radishes, and Nasturtium 
Cucumber, Caraway, and Lemon Balm 
Smoked Beet “Fish” and Elderflower 
Beet, Crab Apple, and Söl 
Cooked Onions, Buttermilk, and Nasturtium 

Omnivorous Starters 
Lumpfish Roe, Daikon, and Almonds 
Oysters, Cabbage, and Capers 
Mussels, Seaweed, and Allumettes 
Squid, Mussels, and Seaweed 
Raw Beef, Anchovies, and Ramsons 
Lamb, Shrimp, and Dill 
White Asparagus and Anchovies 
Pickled Skate, Mussels, and Celery Root
Pickled Mackerel, Cauliflower, and Lemon 
Cod, Kohlrabi, and Skins 
White Onions, Crayfish, and Fennel 

Herbivorous Seconds 
Turnips, Chervil, and Horseradish 
New Potatoes, Warm Berries, and Arugula 
Potato, Seaweed, and Pecorino 
Lettuce, Smoked Almond, and Olive Oil 
Asparagus, Sunflower Seeds, and Mint 
Jerusalem Artichoke, Quinoa, and Coffee 
Sunflower Seeds, Kornly, and Pine 
Baked Potato Puree, Two Ways 
Barley, Cauliflower, and Black Trumpet 

Herbivorous Mains 
Carrot, Elderflower, and Sesame 
Charred Cucumber and Fermented Juice 
Romaine, Egg Yolk, and Nettles 
Enoki, Kelp, and Seaweed 
Fennel, Smoked Almond, and Parsley 
Dried Zucchini and Bitter Leaves 
Fried Salsify and Bergamot 
Salted Carrot and Oxalis “Béarnaise” 

Omnivorous Mains 
Pork from Hindsholm and Rye 
Lamb, Turnip, and Samphire 
Cauliflower, Veal Sweetbread, and Basil 
Chicken Wings, White Asparagus, and Anchovies 
Wild Duck, Elderberries, and White Onions 
Salad, Beef, and Bronte Pistachio 
Veal, Grilled Sauce, and Anchovy 

Cheese and Desserts 
Whipped Goat Cheese and Parsley
Nordlys, Carrots, and Orange Zest 
Chanterelles, Apple, and Granité 
Mandarin, Buttermilk, and Egg Yolk 
Milk, Kelp, and Caramel 
Rhubarb Compote, Almond, and Vinegar 
Jerusalem Artichoke, Malt, and Bread 
Sheep’s Milk Yogurt, Beets, and Black Currant 
Hokkaido Pumpkin and Mandarin 
Corn, Bread Crumbs, and Marjoram 
Elderflower and Rhubarb 
Jerusalem Artichokes, Coffee, and Passion 
Coffee Table 

Appendix: Recipes 

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