Book recommendations for the home chef?

Joined Feb 25, 2013
Question for those that have Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques.

I own :

Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Larousse Gastronomique (quick reference for ingredients, basic methods/recipes to compare)

Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques (wife went to school there)

Cordon Bleu at Home

Michel Richard Happy in the Kitchen (which I recommend highly)

an old version of the Joy of Cooking

Among many, many others, but, how is Complete Techniques going to supplement? Will it just be redundant? It's not like I don't have reference on how to truss a chicken/beef or make demi glace. Although I must say his older vids on how to butcher meat/poultry or make basic dishes are excellent (I don't really like his forays into food that isn't french or traditional, though). Does his book have good step by step photos? I've read reviews suggesting they are of poor quality also.
I guess nobody owns it.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I have his New Complete Techniques and I like it. I'd have liked to have seen some of the older photos updated. It's a bit odd to flip pages and see color mixed with black and white in the same technique. At least I seem to remember some that are blended like that.
Joined Oct 23, 2012
Hey, sorry...I own Pepin's "La Technique" (1976); dunno if it's the same as "Complete" about which you inquired, but suspect it is. I contemplated replying when you first inquired, but I realized that so much depends on how one thinks about Life.  I own six books on curry, cuz I'm deathly afraid there's some Wisdom out there I'm gonna miss. I like owning "Technique" because he addresses 169 separate kitchen tasks with at least 10 photos per task. However, I admit that a bunch of those tasks are fussy pastry manouvers that don't interest me, like making little faux flowers.  But tying a roast or preparing sweetbreads or brains or trimming a saddle of lamb or boning a trout?  It's just like having Jacques Pepin standing in yer kitchen..."Here; take your knife and make a this; then...."  Thorough and detailed.

PS:  I second your commendation of Richard's "Happy in the Kitchen".  I also have, use and enjoy his earlier "Home Cooking with a French Accent" which is very good, though not as spiffy in presentation nor as "out there" in concept.
Joined Sep 12, 2011
I had the same response as Butcherman, and gave away my copies of "La Technique" and "La Methode" a few years ago.  Total respect to Pepin, but a lot of this is the kind of detail amateurs don't need.
Joined Jun 17, 2013
I really liked and still do, Mark Bittman's How to cook everything, it's complete, concise and gives any cook a firm foundation to start just about anything.
Joined May 19, 2013
I recently read where a famous French chef committed suicide because he lost a Michelin star.  Some say that he has lost his vision while other say that he lost his inspiration.

That would be Bernard Loiseau- who had a history of depression, but kept it manically well hid.

On a happier note, what a great thread! I'm always at a loss finding books that are actually useful, and tend to go for the entertaining ones instead. Don't Try This At Home is a hilarious collection of short stories by chefs of the times they totally dropped the sausage in the lake- it's my go to reading after any rough day, and it never fails to make me laugh and feel a bit better.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
Recently, after owning most of these above books that have been recommended, I simply find myself going online and reading a half dozen recipes for a dish that received five stars from those that have tried them.  ...
Recently after cooking for 38 years, I've begun doing just that, researching the various versions on a dish/crust whatever and that's the best way to learn.  It ain't all chemistry and precise amounts of this and that!  But my very first cookbook is Raymond Oliver's LA CUISINE and it's truly a treatise on dishes prepared on the very rich side of things.  If you want rich texture, then this book is it.
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Joined Apr 4, 2012
People dis the Bittman book a lot, but I like it, too. I like it's fearless "try-it-you-can-do-this" attitude and I do find I pick it up for inspiration when I need to make something simple and tasty but don't have the energy to actually think very hard about getting food on the table. Aside from how intimidating the sheer heft of it can be, the text itself makes cooking sound uncomplicated, fun and satisfying and just about everything I've made from it has tasted pretty darned good. It's not very long on technique, though.
Joined Aug 9, 2013
Responding to the person whose husband has diabetes..."lowcarbhomechef"

I'm a low carb maven. Join this facebook group and life will get really easy for you:

Duke Low Carb Support Group

Really, this may change your life...It definitely did change mine!!
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Joined Jul 27, 2015
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 Sep 18, 2012
Cooking for Fifty? I do not think many people will be cooking for that many people maybe more than once in a lifetime unless they are in the catering business.

If I was to attempt that would would have some staff to help.

Once you have begun to master the cuisines you already know would it not be worthwhile to learn some new culinary skills?

Don't worry you will always have more to learn no matter how long you have been learning. It what we do, is it not?

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