I couldn’t wait to see this book as Danielle Alvarez’s Sydney restaurant, Fred’s, has long been on my wishlist and a chef who started her career at The French Laundry followed by Chez Panisse can’t fail to excite – right? Well, hmmm, no. All the elements are there: the exhortations to buy seasonal produce; to seek out sustainably grown meat and fish from local sellers; the personal anecdotes heading each recipe, but nothing jumped straight at me and made me want to get into the kitchen. Perhaps it’s just more low-key than we’ve come to expect. Look, I’m no fan of the shouty ‘Look at me, aren’t I clever?’ style of some chefs but I do want a bit of spark. There’s one downright sexy pumpkin (can’t think I’ve ever had cause to type that before) and on the second or third look some dishes began to whisper to me, but it’s not a book that calls me back. Perhaps Alvarez’s style translates better to the plate than the page. I’m still looking forward to eating at the restaurant – one day. TRACY WHITMEY

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