Word's been out for a while that Chris Bianco's writing a book -- but Chow Bella just got the scoop on his co-author: local-food movement guru Gary Nabhan.
When it comes to understanding flour, dough, yeast, tomatoes, olive oils and other artisanal ingredients, heat sources and the whole pizza shebang --Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco is the indisputable MAN. He's the only pizza-maker to ever win a James Beard Award (Best Chef Southwest, 2003), and his cramped but cozy pizza restaurant has earned accolades from every important food publication in the country, including "best pizza" from Bon Appetit and "best pizza in the nation" from Ed Levine of the New York Times.
And now that it's time to write it down, Bianco's keeping it classy by sharing everything he knows about pizza in a cookbook, published by boutique-y Ecco Press and scheduled for publication next fall (2013).
Bianco says his book will take a "from the ground up" approach, discussing every aspect of artisanal pizza-making, which will perforce include indigenous ingredients. That's not surprising, given his proclivity for all things local.
The cookbook won't be "a gospel," he quickly adds, explaining that much of it will be based on his own experiences in pizza-making as well as insights gleaned from artisans and farmers. That's why he's enlisted Nabhan, an award-winning author and sustainable agriculture activist (co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH and pioneer of the local food movement) to help him. Bianco not only wants Nabhan's writing chops but also his historical perspective on the provenance of various indigenous ingredients.
Bianco couldn't have found a more prestigious cookbook publisher than Ecco Press (now an imprint of HarperCollins), founded by Daniel Halpern in 1971. Halpern, who has discovered and published hundreds of important American authors, became interested in cookbooks in 1985, reprinting Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Cooking in hard cover. He has since published books by Madhur Jaffrey, David Bouley, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Ferran Adria and Fergus Henderson.
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Nabhan's books include Desert Terroir, Exploring the Unique Flavors and Sundry Places of the Borderlands and Hungry for Change, both about border-related issues. He lives in Patagonia, where he's a self-desribed "wild forager," orchard keeper and Ecumenical Franciscan brother, according to his website.