Michael White Writes the Book on Italian Cuisine

Michael White, award-winning chef, releases Classico e Moderno (INSET), a new Italian cookbook.

Michael White, the darling of food critics at home and abroad, has often been described as the future of Italian gastronomy, thanks to the spectacular inventiveness he brings to modernizing the world's most popular cuisine. In early November, White releases Classico e Moderno: Essential Italian Cooking ( Ballantine Books; $ 50), a compendium of 150 recipes-"two books in one" as he describes it-divided between the classic dishes he mastered during the years he worked in Italy and the "new Italian cuisine" for which he has been lauded internationally. We recently caught up with White to talk about the book.

How long have you been working on ? Three years. With all the restaurants we've developed [among them New York's , , , Alto, , and the forthcoming ] I wanted to get it down on paper.

How does your cooking compare to what's being done in Italy today? It's quite different. I borrow from each region, for example, combining ingredients from Sardinia with something from Sicily. You won't find what I'm doing at Marea or Ai Fiori in Italy.

You spent many years mastering Italian cooking, but in the book you say how important France was in your work. French methods and techniques helped me look at Italian cooking through a different filter and bring new ideas for Italian dishes to life. They helped form the bridge between inspiration and execution.

Favorite Italian dish? Whatever I'm cooking. But I have to say nothing is more pleasurable or satisfying than a simple pasta pomodoro.

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