Combine equal parts of foodie biography with recipes many diners in Maple Ridge have come to crave, season with a generous dollop of local flavour, and you’ve got “Feast on This.”
The subtitle for the book by chef Mike Mulcahy, owner of Big Feast Bistro, is “A Collection of Inspired Recipes and Life Stories that should be shared.” And they are being shared – about 500 copies sold in the first six weeks since its release.
It’s a unique cookbook, because the recipes roughly follow along with the chef’s story. Mulcahy writes about his mom, and her traditional Irish roast dinners, and on the coming pages there are his recipes for prime rib and chicken cacciatore.
He tells colourful stories about “The Keg Years,” and there’s a recipe using “That Sauce” which he once used in a dish he pitched to management during product development – a mix of sour cream, Frank’s and parmesan.
He has a local fish story, complete with snapshot of sturgeon being hoisted by four fishermen, and it’s followed with Tuna Tostadas, mussels and tuna poke.
Mulcahy said publishers he spoke to didn’t like the organization of his recipes in the book. But he had already lovingly prepared this biopic/cookbook according to his own recipe, and didn’t want it messed with. So he self published, and is really happy with the results. He wanted the book to talk about where he learned to cook, and be an homage to the people who have helped him achieve success.
“The goal was never to make money,” he said. “We wanted to have symmetry and pace to the book.”
Feedback he’s getting is that people find the book charming and personal.
Not surprisingly, there’s a chapter on soups. Anyone who is in the habit of ducking in the door of Big Feast and turning to the freezer for a container of their lemon ginger chicken noodle, mulligatawny or their other offerings will find the secret to replicating three or four litres of their own.
The chef said he can’t be worried about giving away his secrets. Foodies can find everything online, he said. Customers might master one of their Big Feast Favourites – say the Lennon’s fried chicken with roasted red pepper aioli.
“They’ll come in for something else they fall in love with,” he said.
Interestingly, he also has a Lennon’s french toast, which he prefaces by saying: “I wish I could have asked John Lennon why Corn Flakes were his favourite food, but since that’s not possible I created this dish in his honour.”
Those who love the Big Feast food should have extra incentive to buy the book. A conversation with Mulcahy confirms his passion for food, and bringing it to people. He’s got new ideas and new dishes he wants to serve up. So, the menu for Big Feast will be changing as of Tuesday, and some longtime favourites are coming off. The Eat it or Beet it Salad and mushroom ravioli are among those that will be sacrificed in the name of changing it up.
The book is personal with lots of local references, and makes one ask what local restaurants does this chef patronize?
Mulcahy says he loves what they’re doing at The Chameleon, and is a huge fan of the pasta at Il Corsaro Pasta Bar. The chef’s kids like Brown’s Social House, and that’s also a popular spot for Mulcahy family dinners out.
“Feast on This” is a fun read, and there’s lots of great dishes from the restaurant he calls “a little bistro out in the middle of nowhere.”
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