You wouldn’t think a chef would need a cookbook. But in fact, the best chefs love a good cookbook for inspiration, techniques and ideas. They may not follow a recipe from start to finish exactly as stated. In fact, that would be really unusual. Like any other creative individual, they love to put their own twist on recipes, use locally sourced ingredients and combine things that are unexpectedly delightful.
We thought we’d ask some of our chefs for their thoughts on the best cookbooks and why they love them. We got some great perspectives that we’re going to share with you here. Let us know in the comments what cookbooks you love.
Dan Tucker, Executive Chef of our Burr Ridge location, keeps a selection of cookbooks at his desk at work. We snapped a photo recently while visiting that location. Like many other chefs, he’s a fan of The French Laundry Cookbook, which he’s owned for more than a decade. “It is a cookbook that opened my eyes to the world of fine dining as a young cook,” Dan says. Other picks from Dan:
White Heat by Marco Pierre White: The first chef focused cookbook from the original bad boy chef. Marco is the chef I think we all sercertly wish we could grow up to be. He is unbelievably talented and completely unconcerned with what anyone else thinks of him.
Paul Miranda, Executive Chef of our Warrenville, Illinois location, says his favorites cover basics as well as unusual combinations. Here’s what he had to say:
Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: I have eaten at this chef’s restaurant and his approach to fusing classic French cuisine and southern lowlands cuisine is amazing. His restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama, is definitely a must for anyone.
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller is also a great choice because it really bridges the gap between what we do in restaurants daily and take for granted and the home cook. Full of great step by step instructions and full color pictures as well. Great for home cooks.
Larousse Gastronomique is the encyclopedia for cooks and chefs. It is well over 1,000 pages and has pictures, recipes and more importantly definitions and descriptions of ingredients, dishes and why these items are important to the cultures they are derived from. It is a must for any serious foodie.
Anthony Lusiak, Executive Chef of our Louisville, Ky., location, is also a fan of Thomas Keller (rightfully so). His list:
Bouchon and The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller: Keller emphasizes using exempliary ingredients and cooking foods simply to let the flavors shine through. Keller is the proprietor of The French Laundry.
The Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of America: This is a great reference book for classic recipes
On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page: This has a great section on matching foods flavors together.
Peace Love and Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe. You’ll find recipes mixed in with tales from the world of barbecue.
Bryan Hopping, Executive Chef of our Cincinnati location, has a much-loved copy of The Joy of Cooking that he got from his grandmother. He believes it was printed in the 1920s. We recommend The Joy of Cooking as well – it’s a great basic cookbook that can teach you not only how to perform certain cooking techniques but why you should do things in certain ways. Bryan also uses The Professional Chef cookbook by the CIA.
Geoff Kelty, Executive Chef of our Columbus location, chimed in with his favorites. He’s also a Keller fan, but said he’s been picking up some barbecue cookbooks lately, as he just purchased a new grill. “The Barbecue! Bible” by Steven Raichlen and “Grill It!” by Bobby Flay are two that he’s enjoyed.
Do you have a favorite cookbook? What do you recommend?