My F&W
quick save (...)

Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

RSS
Best Cookbooks of All-Time

The Book That Keeps Joanne Chang Baking

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: Joanne Chang of Boston's Flour Bakery

The Book: Baking with Julia by Julia Child, 1996

“I had my first pastry job at Rialto when Julia Child was writing the book and filming the TV series,” says Chang. “Through various Boston and Cambridge restaurant connections I got to witness part of the book being tested in Julia’s kitchen. It was a great opportunity to see Julia, who’s obviously an icon, and to watch behind the scenes. About three years later I decided to open my own bakery. The whole process of opening any restaurant is very long and very hard. I didn’t realize when I first started out how discouraging it could be. You have to deal with so many things that have nothing to do with baking, like attorneys, leases, equipment, regulations, just a bunch of crazy stuff. But that book never failed to re-inspire me. Seriously, I’d pick it up and within about 3 minutes I’d be like, ‘OK, no, this I what I want to do! And this is why I want to do it.’ There are a lot more modern, fancier books out there, but in terms of a book that I go to that brings me a lot of happiness, that book definitely does it.”

Related: Best Books for Food Lovers
Recipes from Julia Child
Joanne Chang's Asian-American Thanksgiving

Best Cookbooks of All-Time

A Collectable Work by Michel Bras

Le Livre de Michel Bras

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 Cimarusti

The Book: Le Livre de Michel Bras by Michel Bras, 1991

“It was one of the first serious cookbooks I got when I was just 22 or 23,” Cimarusti says. “I was lucky to get it when it came out—it’s out of print now, and would probably cost more than $700, if you can even find it. I didn’t speak much French at the time, but it had a big impact. It was the first time I’d ever seen a Japanese knife, the first time I’d seen his vegetable-driven cooking. The idea of using what surrounds you, his whole aesthetic completely changed the way I thought about food.”

Related: Endangered French Classics
Best Books for Food Lovers
Best New Vegetable Cookbooks

Best Cookbooks of All-Time

The Book That Changed How America Cooked

The French Laundry Cookbook

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?’”

Related: Best Books for Food Lovers
Recipes from Thomas Keller
Recipes from Thomas Keller's Network

Best Cookbooks of All-Time

Measurements? Who Needs Measurements!

Dean Fearing

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: Dean Fearing

The Book: Oscar of the Waldorf’s Cook Book by Oscar Tschirky, 1896

“Somebody gave me this book when I was first starting as an apprentice,” Fearing says. “Tschirky was the maître d’ of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel restaurant in New York, and he came out with this cookbook in 1896. It’s as thick as an encyclopedia. We all think that everything’s new, but a lot of it was being done in New York in 1896. You talk about truffle sauce or hollandaise or even crab cakes and corn chowder, it’s all in there. The unbelievable part is there’s not one amount given, like 1 cup or 2 tablespoons—he explains how to make every recipe verbally. Yet his recipes are so thorough. The book is so complete, it covers everything from killing wild game to canning and pickling and how to poach, sauté or fry a fillet of sole. I’ve used this book through my whole career.”

Related: Recipes from New York City Chefs
The World's Best Food Cities: New York City
Best Books for Food Lovers

F&W Book Club

An Unabashedly Meaty Italian and Southern Mash-Up

Collards and Carbonara

In this series, food writer, wine lover and cookbook obsessive Kristin Donnelly test drives the most fun and inspiring new books that come across her desk. This week, Collards and Carbonara, by F&W Best New Chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman.

Target Audience: Fans of these Memphis chefs, and home cooks who love lusty Italian and Southern food and want to take it to the next level. Fresh pasta freaks. Read More »

read more
Work in Progress

Andrea Nguyen’s Banh Mi Book

Inside Andrea Nguyen’s Banh Mi Book

Here, fun and sometimes hilarious behind-the-scenes tales from authors working on forthcoming cookbooks. This week Andrea Nguyen goes on a bread recipe quest. Read more >

read more
Best Cookbooks of All-Time

Jean-Georges Vongerichten Eschews Escoffier, Admires Ali-Bab

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: Jean-Georges Vongerichten

The Book: Gastronomie Pratique by Ali-Bab (a.k.a. Henri Babinski), 1923

“A scientist and philosopher, Henri Babinski, wrote it more than 100 years ago, and was way ahead of his time,” Vongerichten says. “He gives every technique from making raspberry lemonade to vinaigrettes to soufflés. He even shows you how to make oysters en gelée using natural gelatin—gelatin made from boiled pig’s feet, not gelatin leaves or agar-agar. Everything he did is so technical and precise, it’s amazing. Everyone always cites Escoffier, but Escoffier just codified a cuisine that already existed. This was something new, and much more interesting. It’s hard to find, though; I wish someone would bring it back into print.”

Related: Recipes from Cookbook Legends
Cookbook Gifts
Best New Vegetable Cookbooks

F&W Book Club

How to Make Pumpkin Ice Cream and Sweet Onion Crack

Bountiful: Todd Porder and Diane Cu

In this series, food writer, wine lover and cookbook obsessive Kristin Donnelly test drives the most fun and inspiring new books that come across her desk. The Book: Bountiful, aimed at fans of the White on Rice Couple blog. Gardeners. Anyone with a CSA or who shops at farmers’ markets. Flexitarians. And people who love personality-driven cookbooks. Read more >

read more
F&W Book Club

Bountiful's Rebellious Kale and Chicken Egg Rolls

Here, F&W Digital Food Award winners Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White on Rice Couple, preview their first cookbook, Bountiful, which drops on October 15. Read more >

read more
Cookbooks

Cookbook We Can’t Wait to See: Jamie Kennedy’s Book

Canadian chef Jamie Kennedy

Chef Jamie Kennedy; courtesy of Joanna Dickins

I’m obsessed with Toronto, which is why I’m thrilled to hear about the upcoming cookbook that Ivy Knight, the editor of the terrific site Swallow, is working on with one of Canada’s very best chefs, Jamie Kennedy. READ MORE>

read more
advertisement
The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.
American Express Publishing ("AEP") may use your email address to send you account updates and offers that may interest you. To learn more about the ways we may use your email address and about your privacy choices, read the AEP Privacy Statement.
How we use your email address
advertisement
Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.