Simple French Food is Not a Myth

Spike Gjerde's favorite cookbook covers all the French cooking basics. 

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 all-time top picks.

The Chef: Spike Gjerde

The Book: Simple French Food, by Richard Olney (1974)

“I loved the fact that the author, Richard Olney, was from Iowa, because I was born in Iowa,” says Gjerde. “I took a lot from the fact that he was more appreciative of French traditions than the French. The recipes are spectacularly executable, but he leaves room for the cook to improvise. And the writing—I love his voice and that sense of authority. One thing I sense in cookbooks these days, they all have the same voice. I’ve read books from chefs that I know, and think, That guy is really funny or profane, and this isn’t how he sounds at all. He would never say, ‘Parsley is delightful!’”

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