by Stephanie Izard

Chronicle Books, $29.95, 256 pages

Having lived in Chicago for the past 5 years, it’s impossible to not have heard of Stephanie Izard’s success, even if you didn’t watch her crowned Top Chef (the only woman in eight seasons to have won the title) in 2008. Her highly successful restaurant Girl & the Goat in the West Loop is worth the long wait it takes to get in; Izard serves delicious tapas-style dishes such as goat chorizo flatbread, peppers and ricotta and sweet n’ sour cod cheeks with bacon and broccoli tempura.

Her new cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen is also a worthy venture into the oversaturated cookbook market. In Izard’s introduction, she encourages experimentation and suggests her book be used as a source of inspiration—as a starting point to mastering the art of cooking.

Izard also encourages readers to season their food, taste everything before serving and cook with seasonal produce. Each recipe puts a welcome twist on familiar dishes, such as chilled yellow tomato and vanilla bean soup with lump crab and basil; seared tuna with blueberries and snap peas; pan-roasted New York steaks with sautéed cucumbers and salted goat milk caramel; and roasted radishes with blue cheese, peanuts and cilantro. Izard peppers her book with techniques, ingredient and equipment spotlights, and quick tips.

Laura Di Giovine