Book recommendations for the home chef?

Joined Nov 27, 2010
Greetings everyone,

I'm looking for a set of recommendations for books that will be of great value to the home chef.  Something that gives a solid foundation to everything, perhaps along the lines of Larousse Gastronimique.  What other "Bibles" are there?

A few things about me:  I cook almost entirely vegetarian (primarily for the wife, as I am not a vegetarian).  I'm very proficient in Indian, Thai, Italian and New American styles.  I have a good foundation of skills already and can recreate most things without a recipe.

Since I am not professionally trained, I simply want to identify if I have any holes in my knowledge.

Also, specifically, there was a book that I remember that listed almost every type of ingredient available and then what paired well with it.  Can you please tell me what the name of that book is?

Thanks everyone!
Joined Jan 5, 2007
It's difficult to recommend books, when those of us outwith the USA have different opinions about what constitutes a great cookbook!
Joined Sep 18, 2008
"Ratio, The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking", Michael Ruhlman, Scribner, ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-6611-3

"Culinary Artistry", Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-28785-7

"Complete Techniques", Jacques Pépin, Black Dog & Leventhal, ISBN 1-57912-165-9 (paperback) 1-57912-220-5 (harscover)
Joined Nov 27, 2010
@French Fries - That's it, thanks!

@Ishbel - Not looking for a cookbook really, but more of a fundamentals book.  

@PeteMccracken - Perfection, thanks!  The Ratio book will be a great addition as that's what I tend to look for (and most home cooks tend to ignore, I think).  
Joined Nov 5, 2007
[quote name="Chadwick" url="/forum/thread/63133/book-recommendations-for-the-home-chef#post_332075"]
I simply want to identify if I have any holes in my knowledge.[/quote]

We ALL have holes in our knowledge. Some holes are big enough to drive a truckload of Chef Boy-ar-dee canned goods through them, others are fine enough to strain a stock.

I'll recommend two books. The Joy of Cooking is a classic work with tons of information and recipes covering a very wide range of ingredients, techniques and tips. The second book I recommend is very limited, covering a single subject : Sauces by James Peterson. Don't be fooled by the "limited' and "single subject" tags - the book has a vast wealth of information about sauces, their ingredients, techniques, how they are used and so on. Think of it in terms of architecture - the book tells you how to put two bricks together with the proper mortar. Building the skyscraper is up to you.

Oh, a very honorable mention to Julia Childs and Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Joined Oct 5, 2010
I recently bought The Flavor Bible.  It is an incredible book!

I also have "The Professional Chef" 

I was recently shown the book Think Like a Chef.  It looks like another great book.  Unfortunately I haven't bought it yet.  I guess I need to wait for Christmas. Lol.
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Joined Nov 24, 2010
Also, specifically, there was a book that I remember that listed almost every type of ingredient available and then what paired well with it.  Can you please tell me what the name of that book is?
I believe you are thinking of Culinary Artistry, as previously mentioned. I do not own The Flavor Bible, but they are by the same authors so I do not doubt that it also describes the similar ideas.

In my opinion, Professional Chef is more aimed for the professional kitchen setting although with a little bit of adjustment it makes a great reference book, especially it does not concentrate on specific type of cuisine.

Each cuisines has different fundamentals of techniques, a lot of times it's just different names for the very similar things.  One book I CAN suggest for French cuisine fundamental technique is Le guide Culinaire by Escoffier the English translation version of it. My cooking foundation is based on French cooking techniques and the book for me is a must-have.  As you have described of your need, it's not a recipe book but a reference "bible" of the nouvelle cuisine.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
There are a lot of great suggestions from all the above posters.  If you want more suggestions use the search feature on this site and you will come up with a number of questions similar to yours.  All of those threads have lots more great suggestions for beginner cookbooks.  Good luck!!!!
Joined Jun 13, 2010
A thread like this should not be closed without mention of 'Il Cucchiaio d'Argento" - the Italian kitchen bible since 1950. Translated to English in 2005 and published by Phaidon press ( it is now avialable as "The Silver Spoon". Looking at regional recipes, techniques and preferences throughout the country, it also gives a comprehensive overview of cooking equipment, ingedients, sauces, and histories of how the modern Italian cuisine evolved. This is the definitive Italian cookbook.
Joined Mar 11, 2010
I would recommend a website, folks are centered on technique, rather than just recipes. they are awesome.
Joined Nov 16, 2010
The only book I think is a must have is The Food Lovers Companion. It is basically a culinary dictionary with terms/terminology etc. All "food lovers" should have one on hand.
Joined Jan 8, 2010
I like Mark Bittman's "How to cook everything"It starts with a basic idea and then gives tonnes of variations .....

It's actually very close to the way I cook.

Think what you want to make, substitute whatever you don't have for something else and go ahead
Joined Dec 17, 2009
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Joined Oct 25, 2010
i like any book by jane brody, her "good food book" is my favorite.

she makes nutrition a primary consideration, and works backwards.  turns out that eating healthy is usually cheaper, too.
Joined Dec 1, 2010
I have a very large cookbook collection (754 books at last count) and there is one book which has probably been used more than any other over the years.  It is "The Complete Asian Cookbook" by Charmaine Solomon who is a Sri Lankan living in Australia.  Here's a link:

I have had my copy since the late 1970's, and the one in the link above is a new revised one which was published on the 25th anniversary of the first edition.  The book covers all Asian countries and has an extensive glossary giving the various names for the ingredients from the various countries.

I have cooked >100 recipes from the book and never had a failure.  The recipes are well described and any "new" techniques or methods are well explained.

For anyone wishing to experiment with the various Asian cuisines this is the best place to start.


Joined Oct 9, 2010
Being a foodie and a techie, I usally wind up looking up most things online  (from Food Network chefs to forums) but as far as a reference book for the kitchen, there is only one in mine ... The Joy of Cooking!
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