When it comes to the culinary space, Andy Baraghani has spent many years of his life honing his craft and fully immersing himself in the world of cuisine. From prepping onions and making stocks to being behind the line at some of New York City’s finest restaurants, Baraghani has done it all. Now, Baraghani is sharing his love for food and the techniques acquired throughout his career with home cooks all over the world in his cookbook, “The Cook You Want to Be,” releasing on May 24.
Between keeping up with his 300K-plus Instagram followers and traveling back and forth between his New York City residency and his cozy Brookhaven home, Baraghani still makes the time to experiment in the kitchen. Growing up in an Iranian household located in the East Bay area of California, Baraghani’s love for food started at an early age. In the late 70s, both of his parents left Iran to come to the United States, making Baraghani first generation. The Iranian culture played a huge part in shaping his childhood, and he grew up consuming Iranian cuisine the majority of his adolescence.
When it comes to his passion for cooking, Baraghani first developed a deep love for the actual consumption of food, and it wasn’t until he was around 10 years old when he developed a new love for the creative process of cooking. He started to make small experiments in the kitchen and let his imagination run free.
A few years later, Baraghani became more interested in going to restaurants and became familiar with many different cuisines from around the world, expanding his primarily Iranian food palate. At the young age of 16 years old, Baraghani wanted to gain professional experience in the industry and landed his first internship at Chez Panisse located in Berkeley, Calif. He worked his way from intern to line cook, and this experience provided him with the foundation to pursue cooking as a career.
While attending NYU, Baraghani continued to develop himself as a cook and worked his way up in different restaurants all over the city. Eventually, an internship at his favorite food magazine at the time, Saveur, provided him with the opportunity to pivot from working in restaurants to working in test kitchens and entering the food media space.
After graduating, Baraghani worked at the restaurant Estela, located in downtown New York, for a year, before he was recruited to work at a “digital first food media publication,” Tasting Table, for just about two years. The bold choices he was making at the publication caught the eye of the national food magazine Bon Appetit, where he served as senior food editor for six years. He left the publication a year ago to dedicate time to finishing his debut cookbook releasing at the end of this month. Did I mention he did all of this without ever attending culinary school?
Baraghani discussed how he was asked to write a book a while back, years before he even wanted to write a cookbook, but felt he wasn’t ready. “It didn’t feel like the right time. I felt like I had a lot of work I wanted to do and a lot of things I needed to learn about myself as a cook and as a writer,” said Baraghani.
After three years of creating his cookbook from start to finish, Baraghani is ready and excited to share his masterpiece with the world. “The Cook You Want to Be” encompasses his Iranian culture and the lessons he learned throughout his life from working in two different food spaces, restaurants and media.
“I know a lot of people in the food world, and either they’re very much in the restaurant space or in the media space,” said Baraghani. “You really don’t see people go from one to the next. I made that switch and it allowed me to have a trajectory I didn’t really plan for.”
The pages of his book are filled with different recipes, photographs, ingredients, techniques, and essays about his childhood, travels, experiences in restaurants and more, showcasing his more personal side. Through sharing his lessons, Baraghani hopes “for the home cook to take them and to really apply it to their own cooking, so they can discover the cook they want to be.”
Baraghani started to develop recipes for his cookbook in 2020. While some may think being confined to your home during a pandemic must be great for productivity, for Baraghani it was the complete opposite. “My inspiration when it comes to the kitchen is beyond the kitchen. It is taking inspiration from my experiences going to restaurants, living in New York, my travels, and those are the things that kind of inspire me in the recipes that I create,” said Baraghani.
Being in the food media space for so long, Baraghani has been able to study many cookbooks, observing the trends that come and go, and has seen recipes written in many different ways. Baraghani recognizes how recipes act as a “template” for the cook to bring ingredients together to produce something delicious, and he hopes his own serve the same purpose.
“My goal in writing these recipes is not just that, but to really make the reader feel like I am right there with them, where I am encouraging them, where it isn’t necessarily stiff and robotic, but I am right there holding their hand throughout the whole process,” said Baraghani. “I really had a goal when it came to developing for recipes where it was very makeable to the point that if I can make it in my tiny kitchen, then anybody should be able to make it.”
What’s next for Baraghani? He will be embarking on a two-month book tour consisting of book signings, parties, restaurant pop-ups, collaborations with other brands and more. Don’t worry, a stop on Long Island for his book tour is a “must and non-negotiable.” He also hopes to be working on another book in the future.
Hardcover and signed copies of “The Cook You Want to Be” are available for pre-order at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/ and can also be found anywhere where all books are sold on May 24.