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.”