When Jamie Oliver was a young lad, he made a name for himself as television’s hip young face of cuisine on The Naked Chef. But while many of us wouldn’t mind a peek at the strapping cuisinier in the buff, it’s really his stripped-down, honest food that’s naked.

His new book, COOK With Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook (Hyperion), showcases this food philosophy with dazzling close-up photography and deliciously surmountable recipes. As Oliver puts it in his introduction, “If you’re going to eat three times a day for the rest of your life, you might as well learn to cook properly and enjoy it.”

The 448-page treatise contains not only a whole chapter on the wonder of risotto, but full-page explanations of Oliver’s essential kitchen gear, a diagram showing the butcher’s cuts of lamb and poultry, the proper cooking of whole fish, and a captivating discourse on the possibilities of salads. COOK transcends the world of the cookbook and creates a whole new genre: the cook-better book. The book helps make the world a little better, too: Oliver will donate all the proceeds to his Fifteen Foundation, an organization that trains at-risk kids for cooking careers.

With flavorful and innovative recipes like pan-fried lemon sole filets with salsa verde (page 218) and “lovely crab linguini” (page 74), the food in COOK is as exciting as the writing. Despite awkward Britishisms like “a knob of butter,” Oliver has managed to put exactly what we want to eat into a collection of recipes for the gourmand and the home cook alike.

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