After collecting hundreds of recipes for many years, I have long dreamed of publishing a cookbook. With several writing projects now completed, I am ready to move forward. Looking at my collection of more than fifty cookbooks and the myriad of recipes posted online, I became hesitant, wondering if the time to produce a cookbook had passed. But further research revealed that quality cookbooks are flying off bookshelves even today. Several reasons account for this. For example, while one may find a delicious recipe for pork tenderloin online, it takes additional time to provide the information often found in cookbooks to explain why specific pork roasts, which used to be cooked until well done, are now roasted to an internal temperature of 145℉, producing a slightly pink tinged roast. This is mainly due to new cooking techniques, advances in food safety, and the nutritional content of pork in recent years. Today, hogs are scientifically bred and fed especially for the meat they provide, making it up to seventy-five percent leaner. A pork tenderloin (not to be confused with pork loin, another larger and fatter cut of meat) has become extremely popular. Noteworthy is the fact that the pork tenderloin contains less fat and fewer calories than boneless, skinless chicken breast (Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation Report January 6, 2017, by Will Fett).
As a result, CHOPS, a jazz cookbook, was born. The name has several meanings. To those who love jazz, you have undoubtedly heard about jazz instrumentalists or vocalists who have “chops,” meaning experts in their skill level of musicianship. Next, as a food term, chop refers to the dicing of onions, peppers, herbs, etc.; the double entendre refers to the specific cuts of beef, lamb, and pork.
Cooking, like music, is not about convenience or shortcuts. It is about the creative art form, and for that reason, along with my creations that you will find in this book, I have enlisted the assistance of numerous jazz colleagues as they share their favorite recipes.
In March 2021, I left California, the place I had called home for fifty-four years, and moved to the southeast, settling in the Savannah region, where I was introduced to popular cooking styles, such as Cajun, Creole, Gullah, and Lowcountry foods that I share in this cookbook.
Lastly, every recipe has a story that I hope you will enjoy. Many of the recipes are paired with a wine, in deference to my California roots. So, grab your apron, and let’s head to the kitchen and show our chops as we start shakin’ the pots. Estimated release December 2023.