The Book That Changed How America Cooked

The French Laundry Cookbook Courtesy of Artisan Books. Photograph by Deborah Jones.
By Emily Kaiser Thelin Posted October 21, 2013

Getting a chef to pick a favorite cookbook is like asking a parent to choose her most-loved child. But F&W pressed great cooks around the country to reveal their top picks of all-time.

Chef: Michael Voltaggio

The Book: The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller, 1999

The French Laundry Cookbook changed everything in America,” Voltaggio says. “My mom bought it for me when I was an apprentice at The Greenbrier hotel, my first important job. It was unlike any other book by an American chef. You opened it and it made you start dreaming immediately about what you could do. It wasn’t just a book, it was a new standard, a new goal line for everyone else to aim for. The scary part is that now people cook out of it regularly at home. The other day I gave a regular customer a vacuum-sealed bag of our short ribs, with instructions on how to simmer them in a pot of hot water on his stove. He replied, ‘Can’t I just put it in my immersion circulator?’”

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