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: Michael Chiarello
The Book: Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, by Francis Mallman, 2009
“Francis Mallman is a new friend of the past couple of years,” Chiarello says. “His techniques clearly come from a chef comfortable in his own skin. I’ve had live fire in my restaurants since 1984, so Seven Fires inspired me to write a book of my own. It’s not just what he does with fire; he does things you would never see anywhere else. He does these smashed beets on this plancha that I freaking love—they’re burned and salty, yet crispy and delicious. He also does a salt-crusted whole striped bass in this outdoor oven he builds that he calls an infiernillo, or ‘little hell,’ with fire up top and fire down below—he did it when we did a party of 300, it was mind-bending. I also think it’s a cookbook that focuses on the pleasures of cooking, not simply the finished product, which you don’t often see.”