COOKBOOK: Charleston Grill at Charleston Place 

Recipe for Success: Chef Bob Waggoner adds cookbook author to distinguished resume

Charleston Grill at Charleston Place
French-Influenced Lowcountry Cuisine
Bob Waggoner and Susan Franzen
Gibbes Smith, Publisher
$29.95

With the growing popularity of the Food Network and shows like Top Chef, prominent chefs across the country are becoming celebrities, making television appearances, designing first-class airline menus, and, of course, writing books. But when Charleston Grill's Chef Bob Waggoner was first pitched the idea of publishing his own cookbook three years ago, it took some convincing to get him on board.

"I did not want to produce a book full of tough recipes," Waggoner says. Despite Waggoner's well-known successes, he's an approachable guy. "Pleasing people is what it's all about," he says. So in an effort to please the countless patrons over the years who have requested the recipes for his unique style of French-Lowcountry cuisine, Waggoner decided to take on Charleston Grill at Charleston Place.

One of the most impressive facts about the cookbook is that Waggoner used his own photography. "I would come home from work at midnight and sometimes be up until three in the morning, preparing each dish and then shooting as many as 60 photos of each, just to get the right shot," he says.

The cookbook is a throwback to the Charleston Grill of old, featuring some of the recipes that put this restaurant on the national culinary map, such as Pinot Noir-braised Kobe beef cheeks, Carolina squab, and one of my personal favorites, Charleston Grill lobster tempura with creamy stone ground grits.

Broken into eight categories, Charleston Grill at Charleston Place features appetizers, breakfast, vegetables, salads, soups, meat and game, fish, and desserts.

Each recipe displays an ingredients list, preparation instructions, and, in most instances, a wine pairing. There's no anecdotes or technical explanations in keeping with Waggoner's desire to stay simple. "There are a lot of cookbooks out there with too much filler," he says.

Although most of the recipes contain ingredients that are readily available, a few dishes feature foie gras, veal sweetbreads, and pig's feet, stuff that's more difficult to find. To help home cooks locate ingredients, Waggoner's included a list of his purveyors.

Charleston Grill at Charleston Place will certainly please Waggoner's fans and will make an excellent keepsake for tourists. The busy chef is already at work on his next book, which will provide insight into the life and experiences of a chef. When asked for his favorite recipe, Waggoner only replied: "The next one, of course."

Chef Bob Waggoner will demonstrate recipes from his cookbook on Thurs., Oct. 11, 6:30 p.m. at Charleston Cooks! $55. 194 E. Bay St. (843) 722-1212. www.charlestoncooks.com

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