Homaro Cantu’s recipes live on in the new cookbook, Moto: The Cookbook The cookbook, authored by the late Cantu, outlines the menus from the first ten years of Moto and hits shelves on Tuesday. It’s one the most-anticpated cookbooks of 2017.
At the time of his death in 2015, Cantu was working on this cookbook, so the introduction is fully written by Cantu with a publisher’s note that “no recipes have been added or substantively changed, but methods have been further explained and measurements have been standardized.” Moto was the whimsical Fulton Market restaurant that gained nation notice for molecular gastronomy. Anthony Bourdain was among who filmed segments at Moto. The restaurant closed in February 2016.
In the introduction, Cantu recounts his rough childhood, from the time he “damn near burned down an apartment complex,” to throwing cherry bombs in the boys bathroom, recounting how he made it to sous chef at Charlie Trotter’s and the beginnings of Moto — which reads as an obsession with his concepts, where Cantu broke culinary ground creating dishes that were in technical construction, closer to a science experiment than cooking.
The book outlines ten recipes for each of the first ten years of Moto, with the disclaimer that the recipes were created for a professional kitchen with laboratory gear. It reads less as a book one would pick up for a quick recipe at home and more of a work of art to get people thinking about what they can and could do with food. The book looks to inspire rather than instruct — but there are recipes that can be done with substitutions as well.
Some of the recipes, surprisingly, the “Taste of the Tasting Menu,” a widely-renowned take on chips and salsa from 2005, seem almost doable, if edible printer paper and ink were standard in home kitchens (Cantu quips in the recipe now this is fairly simple, with edible paper and ink available on Amazon). Each recipe starts with a paragraph from Cantu, noting his inspiration for each dish in his own words, candidly and unabashedly. For the most part, recipes seem daunting to make, with each having its own section of “special equipment,” also known as “things you definitely don’t have lying around.”
But for as much of this book isn’t particularly doable in your home kitchen, it lends a wealth of inspiration. It demystifies dishes like the edible Cuban cigar (a Cuban pork sandwich in the shape of a cigar) and lends ideas to simpler dishes like the urban garden, a play on a classic Caprese salad with a few interesting techniques like mozzarella noodles and balsamic dirt. With this cookbook, Cantu has managed to preserve his culinary genius to motivate future chefs to come up with their own whimsical (and extremely scientific) ideas.
“With these recipes,” Cantu wrote, “I hope to inspire tinkerers to get in the kitchen and start asking big questions.”
Moto: The Cookbook hits shelves November 7 and is available for pre-order now.
- Homaro Cantu Working on The Moto Cookbook [Eater Chicago]
- The Biggest Restaurant Cookbooks of Fall 2017 [Eater National]
- UPDATED: Homaro Cantu's Death Elicits Outpouring Via Social Media [Eater Chicago]
- Moto's Last Night: Remembering Chicago's Molecular Gastronomic Pioneer [Eater Chicago]