This cookbook is the distillation of a life's work by a self-taught American chef who learned to cook by reading cookbooks and went on to become one of the world's most renowned chefs. O'Connell began his career with a catering business in an old farmhouse, cooking on a wood stove with an electric frying pan purchased for $1.49 at a garage sale. (The pan was used for boiling, sautéeing and deep frying for parties of up to 300 guests.) This experience sharpened his awareness of how much could be done with very little. The catering business evolved into a country restaurant and Inn which opened in 1978 in a defunct garage and which is now America's only 5 star Inn. Craig Claiborne raves, "the most magnificent inn I've ever seen, in this country or Europe, where I had the most fantastic meal of my life." This is not a typical "Chef's Cookbook" filled with esoteric, egomanical, and impossibly complicated recipes which only a wizard with a staff of eighty would ever attempt to produce. Rather, the recipes assembled here make up a practiced, finely honed repertoire of elegant, simple and straight-forward dishes. Everyday ingredients are elevated to new heights through surprising combinations and seductive presentations. A Consuming Passion propels the home cook into a new world of American Haute Cuisine and provides the formulas for reproducing it at home. Careful and detailed instructions, all written by the author, assure success. Tim Turner's luscious photographs capture the playful but elegant spirit of the food and introduce the reader to some of the charming local characters who provide products for the Inn's kitchen as well as taking the reader on a delightful and romantic culinary journey throughout the Virginia countryside surrounding the small town affectionately known as "Little" Washington and reveals an America we thought was lost forever.