What We’re Reading: ‘Beginnings’

Authors, Celebrity Chefs, Chefs, Meet, What We're Reading

The Williams-Sonoma team was proud to collaborate with Chris Cosentino, Chef/Partner at Incanto and Boccalone in San Francisco and Pigg in Los Angeles, on his debut cookbook, Beginnings. In the book, the acclaimed chef presents more than 60 recipes for Italian-style first courses, all organized by season. His inspired ingredient combinations are a perfect representation of one of the country’s most exciting culinary minds.


I asked Cosentino to share the story behind the book — why he chose these recipes, how he approaches ingredients and why you can see his own sketches on the pages. Keep reading to hear what he had to say, and scroll to the bottom of this post for a behind-the-scenes video.


Q: Your new cookbook Beginnings features entirely starters. Why?

A: I hear many people say they like to go to a restaurant and just eat the first courses. I figured it made sense to give people a chance to do that with the food I make at Incanto.


Q: People associate you with your innovations for cooking animals, but vegetables play a huge role in the book. What was your reasoning for that?

A: People might be surprised by it, but I cook with lots of vegetables everyday. I think that because I am very outspoken about my belief that you should use the whole animal, that’s all people think I cook. But the fact is, I use more vegetables then most people realize. Right now, I’m in love with radishes.


Q: Why did you structure the book by season?

A: I structured the book in the same way that I cook. I work with what is in season, so it seemed best for the book to flow that way. When people buy products at the market, they have a section to go to in the book for that season.


Q: How can meat and seasonal vegetables play off of each other in this context?

A: Just as vegetables have seasons, so do meats and fish.


Q: What’s one recipe you’d recommend people try from the book?

A: I recommend you try all sixty of them, one at a time.


Q: Many of your recipes are Italian-inspired. Is that because you like to cook and eat that way, or why?

A: That’s exactly it.


Q: How do you balance exotic ingredients with more familiar ones to create a cohesive dish? What’s your approach?

A: When I look at an item that people may be unfamiliar with, I always pair it with a “safe” item. When you put the familiar with the unfamiliar people are more likely to try something new. It’s a balance.


Q: Tell me about the sketches in the book and how you decided to include those.

A: The sketches came out of me explaining the recipes to my editor, Jen. She would be asking questions and sometimes I found it easier to just draw a picture to explain what I was trying to say in the recipe. This helped in the editing process of the recipes.



This title is also available as a digital download. Click to purchase Beginnings from the iBookstore and App store. http://bit.ly/SId2e3


Photo Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell


Click to buy Chris Cosentino’s cookbook, Beginnings.




About the author: Olivia Terenzio grew up in Mississippi, where she cultivated a love of sweet potatoes, crawfish and cloth napkins at a young age. A passion for sharing food with friends and family led her into the kitchen and later to culinary school, where she learned how to roast a chicken and decorate a cake like a pro. As a Williams-Sonoma blog editor, she’s now lucky enough to be talking, writing and thinking about food all day.

42 comments about “What We’re Reading: ‘Beginnings’

  1. Surbhi

    Can never have enough cookbooks. And Italian ..can’t get better than this. Can I have the book please 🙂

  2. Sierra

    The book looks great. I agree that I’m even surprised that he would publish so many veggie dishes!

  3. Mary Ann

    Both my hubby and myself would love to try ALL 60 recipes…
    one day at a time. Thanks !

  4. Frances Quinn

    I love Chris and his cooking. I was so very happy when he won. I love the fact that he treats the animal he uses with the greatest respect and love and it shows in the food that he creates. Good job, Chris.

  5. Viki Megna

    Wow, GREAT blog and video! I’m a HUGE CC fan and think his approach to food and thought process in creating dishes is amazing. SOMEDAY I WILL eat at his restaurant, and maybe, jsut maybe, one day meet him. He’s so REAL. Can’t wait to check out his book.

  6. heathosmith

    Get in my belly!! Would find it awesome if a copy came my way:)) sharing is caring! Congrats on the victory Chef!!!

  7. Jules

    Love him. Can’t wait to try us book.

    After having a craniotomy in may 2012, I have a very deminished taste and smell, I find that fresh food I can get some taste from but processed I can not. Sorta like eating paste or cardboard. I am now determined to cook everything out of desperation for flavor. I need new ideas.

  8. Catherine George

    Chris is such an inspiration. He makes “scary” foods interesting enough to try.

  9. Terry

    Chris Cosentino’s approach to categorizing menus by seasons is great! I look forward to having the opportunity to try some/all of his recipes. 🙂

  10. Jennifer Granado

    It was great to watch Chris win Top Chef Masters! Watching that journey was awesome. Hopefully I will be in Bay Area later this month & will visit his restaurant.

  11. Melanie Daigle

    Chris was my fav on “Top Chef Masters” from the beginning…very talented and cute dimples!

  12. Cynthia

    Love, love, love this cookbook !! So glad Chris won :)) Love his recipes and fabulous love of food!!

  13. Cynthia Smith

    Love Chris and so glad he won !!! Can’t wait to try the recipes !! Bon appetite !!

  14. Tammy Vlah

    Awesome to see Chris again. Was first introduced to him on Chef vs City and I’ve been following him since! Can’t wait to see the book and try his recipes! Way to go Chris!

  15. Megan Lynn Aldinger

    Would love to have a copy and try all the amazing recipes!

    ‘The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.’ Julia Child

  16. Kristine

    Watching Chris Cosentino on Top Chef has inspired me to reach out of my comfort ‘food’ zone and realize that there is so much more to an animal than just the meats we typically eat. Once you open your horizons, food is a WONDERFUL avenue to explore. Well done Chris!!!

  17. Sandra Soliman

    Chris you’re an awesome Chef! It’s obvious you like cooking; it shows in the way you put love into your food and the many cooking “techniques” you use! Followed you on Top Chef Masters and you rocked!

  18. Sherry B

    My mouth is watering just reading his comments. I would love to win this book. I grew up on Italian food from my neighbors. My Mom made the basic chicken, hot dogs, meatloaf, Grilled Cheese.. but most of my friends were from Italian families so I would stop in to see them before dinner at home.:<)

  19. Nadine Lomakin

    I love the concept of an all starter cookbook. I often find myself more drawn to starter s that’s the entree course. Besides you can have several starters and get to a better idea of the chef’s range. Can’t wait to see the book.

  20. Carla

    I would love to win a copy..Chris is very inspiring and what a great opportunity to learn to prepare dishes with items that are seasonal.

  21. Kerri

    This guy is GREAT!!!! My fiance and I were rooting him on to win Top Masters….What a unique talent and such a down to earth guy!!! His love for his family who stuck by his side while he worked toward his career is awesome!!

    We hope the best for him and we are SO LOOKING TO SEE WHAT HE’S COOK’IN!!!
    Go Chris!!!

  22. Cathrine West

    I have only just discovered Williams Sonoma on Union Square as I am visiting from New Zealand – yesterday we were lucky enough to catch Aaron’s fantastic cooking class on classic soups and then explore the shop! Loved it! Looking forward to the opening of your stores in Australia and being able to purchase on line! Just wish I could have been here for longer, but you have a new fan! I would love to have the digital copy of Chris Cosetino’s book – especially as we have just come from Italy! Thanks Williams Sonoma!

  23. Crystal Johnston

    I love the fact that this book provides recipes with an attention on veggies and that it is grouped by season. It is no fun to get excited about a recipe and then find out an ingredient is not available because it is not in season.


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