Keep It Simple Stupid

For Alfred Portale, the Manhattan chef who gained fame in the 1980s with towering culinary creations that resembled architecture more than cuisine, the hardest thing in the world is cooking simply. Consider an appetizer he whipped up for Gotham Bar and Grill’s 20th-anniversary party this year: hamachi tartare with yuzo-orange vinaigrette and jalapeno pepper topped by a wasabi microgreen. Not the guy you’d expect to write a cookbook featuring recipes for popsicles and pizza.”Simple Pleasures” arrives in bookstores next month, bringing with it Portale’s hopes that it will re-energize his career. While Emeril and Wolfgang Puck were turning themselves into brands with TV shows and eponymous restaurants, Portale, 50, stayed committed to Gotham and raising two daughters. But his elaborate cooking style drew increasingly less attention as Food Network-watching Americans came to favor simple fare they could re- create at home. Thus the inspiration for “Simple Pleasures,” which joins a…

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