Taming The Feast: Ben Ford'S Field Guide To Adventurous Cooking

Taming The Feast: Ben Ford'S Field Guide To Adventurous Cooking

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The guide to cooking with fire and feeding a crowd, restaurateur Ben Ford gives step-by-step instructions with photos and illustrations so that you can grill, smoke, or roast the whole beast outdoors—or prepare a “tamed” version of the feast in your home kitchen.

Cook big. Play with fire. Get your hands dirty.

Chef Ben Ford is known for wowing crowds with his handcrafted feasts of enormous proportions—a whole pig roast, paella for eighty, burgers for the block. Now, in Taming the Feast, his complete guide to outdoor grilling, smoking, and roasting, Ford divulges his secrets for nine jaw-dropping feasts for the adventurous home cook and DIY enthusiast.

From mouthwatering Texas-style barbecue to Wood-Fired Paella, these entertaining blueprints can be used to throw a party for the whole neighborhood or an intimate dinner for four. A culinary MacGyver, Ford also provides unique complete do-it-yourself primers for making simple custom outdoor cookers that coax the ultimate flavor out of salmon, pig, rabbit, burgers, bratwurst, turkey, and lamb. Here are easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions, drawings, and timelines for constructing a baking barrel, cinder-block oven, smoking shed, and roasting box in your own backyard.

Ford’s food reflects his passion for artisanal techniques, innovative combinations of flavors, and seasonal ingredients. Delicious sides, including Avocado Crostini with Tomatoes, Capers, Olives, Almonds, and Arugula, Persimmon Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans, Cheddar Cheese Loaf with Artisanal Ham and Spicy Brown Mustard, complement hearty main dishes. Each feast ends on a playful note with delicious desserts like classic S’mores with homemade marshmallows and graham crackers and Coconut and Banana Cream "Pies." Each chapter also includes creative recipes to make use of the leftovers you’re sure to have.

Taming the Feast is further enlivened by gorgeous photography and Ford’s stories of growing up with his father Harrison Ford, then a carpenter, and his life as chef at some of California’s most celebrated restaurants working under such pillars of California cuisine as Alice Waters, Paul Bertolli, David Tanis, Nancy Silverton, Mark Peel, and Eberhard Müller.

Whether you are hosting a pig roast, a fish fry, or a backyard barbecue family reunion, you can be sure everyone will leave your party entertained, well fed, and raving about the food.

Guest Review

Andrew Zimmerman on Taming the Feast by Ben Ford

Photo Credit: The Travel Channel

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels

Ben Ford’s Taming the Feast has been a long time coming. Ford is a true gem of the culinary world. He is a guy who is not on every TV show and not in every magazine article. He is not a media darling. He has just been quietly going about his business executing phenomenal food. Ford has a very serious point of view when it comes to food and so does this book.

Each of the nine chapters of Taming the Feast focuses on a theatrical and inspirational feast. If there is one thing I have learned from my travels, it is that food brings people together. My best memories all take place around the dinner table. Ford’s book creates a vehicle to help create those memorable moments.

Along with Carolyn Carreño, Ford has put together a blueprint for creating incredible meals. There are so many weekend hobbyists these days who are searching for this exact book. Its approach to cooking and entertaining makes it fun and adventurous.

Taming the Feast is a departure from your run-of-the-mill cookbook. I am not looking for another way to make a Caesar salad. I want to know how to make wood-fired paella and roast a whole pig. In typical Ben Ford fashion, it is way ahead of the curve.

Ford and Carreño did a fantastic job of making each feast accessible. At the top of each chapter is a timeline taking the guesswork of planning a huge meal out of the equation. The step-by-step guide takes the stress and fear out of cooking for a large group of people.

Each recipe is carefully laid out with beautiful photography and illustrations to demonstrate what might otherwise be challenging cooking techniques. The photos and diagrams make it simple to smoke brisket over indirect heat or hog-tie corn on the cob.

Along with each main dish is a plethora of side dishes, desserts and drinks. The menus go together beautifully, but each dish can stand on its own. The string bean and potato salad compliments a burger-and-bratwurst feast nicely, but it is also a compliment-worthy dish to bring to your next potluck.

Ford did not miss any details when writing this book. One of my favorite features is a recipe that accompanies each feast creating a brand-new dish with leftovers. No more worries about what to do with all of the food when the party is over and guests go home.

A true representation of how Ford thinks and feels about food, Taming the Feast delivers a strong message about utilizing all parts of an animal. Ford’s Filling Station in Los Angeles was groundbreaking when it began serving snout-to-tail cuisine. Ford’s belief in the holistic farm system led him to work with local farmers and raise his own whole animals.

When he discovered whole animals do not fit in most ovens, Ford began building his own equipment. Ford is a craftsman at heart, a trait passed down by his grandfather and his father, Harrison Ford, who was a carpenter before his acting career. Now Ford is passing on this do-it-yourself attitude through his book, which includes four DIY projects including building your own roasting box.

With the how-to guides and diagrams, Ford makes building your own cinder block pit easier than building an IKEA bookshelf. But if the thought of building your own cooking equipment sounds too daunting, there is no need to fear.

Each feast is incredibly scalable and perfect for how people entertain today. If you want to create the big feast, have fun this weekend. If you would like to feed four-to-six people, you can find out how here, too.

For every feast there is a tamed feast. If you do not want to build your own clambake barrel, learn how to do a clambake on the grill in your backyard to the same effect. From home cooks to culinary masters, anyone can pick up this book and feel confident in the food they are making.

Ford is a groundbreaker. The first time I saw a seriously devoted, capable, and passionate culinarian take whole hogs and confit them, it was Ben Ford. He turned Culver City from a culinary ghost town to a food destination. And now he has done it again and has broken new ground with Taming the Feast.

This book is a must for the home cook looking for something new. It is a must for the weekend DIYer. It is a must for the serious food geek. It is a must for anyone looking to bring people together around the dinner table. In other words, this book is for you.



    Ben Ford


    Carolynn Carreño








    Atria Books


    Atria Books










    Atria Books




    Atria Books

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