Jordana Rothman
May 11, 2018
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Cookbooks can be fickle territory, as vulnerable to the whims of trendiness as diet fads or nail art. But there are some books that stand the test of time—classics that continue to captivate years after their publication dates. We dipped into our archives to turn up 10 of the most enduring cookbooks ever published, as chosen by the chefs those books inspired. Assemble a mini library for you or your favorite food scholar.

The Provence of Alain Ducasse

I like The Provence of Alain Ducasse because it is really personal. He discusses individuals—you meet the guy that makes the best pastis or the best olive oil—and you really feel like you are on this trip with him. It’s one of those books that actually makes you hungry.— Mike Solomonov

The Last Course

Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course is a classic. That was my go-to book when I first became a pastry chef. I especially love her coconut tapioca with passion fruit and cilantro. That was one of my favorite desserts when I started on this road.Belinda Leong

El Bulli: 1998–2002

Flipping through the pages of El Bulli: 1998–2002 is so powerful. It’s one of those books where you pick it up and four hours later you haven’t even gotten through 40 pages.—Michael Mina

La Technique

Jacques Pepin’s La Technique was revolutionary in a lot of ways. I have a copy that’s so used it’s torn and spotted. It’s a very good book for someone who needs things explained really clearly.— Charlie Palmer

Joy of Cooking

The old Joy of Cooking was my first cookbook. It has everything in it, from cooking an armadillo to how to make the most perfect pie crust. It’s great for when you need a basic recipe to build off of, because the proportions are so well tested. Anita Lo

Ma Gastronomie

My favorite is Ma Gastronomie by Ferdinand Point. It’s both a storybook and a book of recipes. If you work for me, I give you that book and then I ask you questions about it. Point was 6’5” and 300 pounds—he’d get to work at 7am every morning and write menus in the courtyard while drinking magnums of champagne and getting a shave. Paul Bocuse was his salad chef. There are hundreds of stories. — Jimmy Bradley

Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages

My copy of Mario’s first cookbook, Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages has completely fallen apart. Like it’s so off its binding it’s not even funny. I should probably just go out and buy another one.—Matt Molina

 

Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire is a classic reference book and the recipes in there never go out of style.— Micah Wexler

 

George Lang’s Cuisine of Hungary is an incredible piece of writing. The first 150 pages is a history of Hungarian cuisine, and then it moves into simple versions of all of the most well known dishes. It’s just a legendary book and he was a legendary person.— Nick Balla

 

Great Chefs of France, is a great introduction to the recipes and cooking styles of [chefs like Alain Chapel and Roger Vergé.] It came out in the late 70s and was very influential on me as a young cook.— David Kinch