Successful cookbooks usually end up with sauce-splattered pages, but some of the most thrilling new volumes aren’t likely to be taken into the kitchen. More highbrow than how-to, these chefs’ books—many published overseas and not yet translated into English—are coffee-table-big, quite expensive (French chef Marc Veyrat’s Encyclopédie Culinaire du XXIe Siècle is around $425) and involve complex methods and obscure ingredients. And they’re the latest must-have titles for the food-obsessed.
"Nobody’s suggesting that readers try a lot of this stuff at home," says Nach Waxman, owner of New York City’s Kitchen Arts & Letters, which stocks many of these books. "These chefs are trying to be inspirational. They’re trying to get the juices flowing." Waxman adds that it’s not surprising that so many of the books have not been picked up by publishers in the U.S.: "American publishers tend to play it safe. But some of the ideas in these books are going to emerge and become part of the mainstream, both in restaurants and in home cooking."