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To some, the notion of chef-as-celebrity is an odd juxtaposition. Long nights spent sweating over burners in close quarters, while frantically perfecting the latest must-try-dish — and then serving it in a timely fashion — isn’t glamorous business. But with her new book “My Last Supper: The Next Course,” photographer Melanie Dunea has tapped into the intangible quality that makes the best chefs luminary.
Like her first book, “My Last Supper,” “The Next Course,” which is set to hit shelves Tuesday, consists of distinctive portraits of 50 renowned chefs, who answer six questions related to their perfect meal. While recipes for those meals are found in the back of the 224-page book, Dunea contends that “The Next Course” is more of a biography than cookbook.
“I love food. I love chefs, I think they are creative,” she said. “From my book, you can really get a glimpse of who they are. I’m not promoting their restaurants. I’m not promoting their brands.”
“The Next Course” includes an introduction by legendary British chef Marco Pierre White, and is followed by interviews of his contemporaries, many of whom have reached wide acclaim from television. The list includes Bobby Flay, David Chang, Joël Robuchon, Masaharu Morimoto, Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse.
“The whole idea of food as entertainment, it’s really what it is,” said Todd English, who was interviewed for the book. “Food is something that not only nourishes our body, it nourishes our soul.”
Like English, Morimoto, who is perhaps most recognized for his appearances on the TV show “Iron Chef,” focuses less on his success and subsequent fame and more on how New York’s food scene has changed in recent years.
“I don’t see any boundaries in food,” he said. “I think sushi has gotten more popular than ever. It’s become a mainstream food — it’s amazing to see even Duane Reade selling sushi.”