"Must Have" Cookbooks?

Joined May 31, 2011
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Alton Brown's series of cook books. Given, they were my first set of books, so maybe I have a soft spot for them, but they are very in depth and organized by procedure rather than food item/ingredient. For my money, they are some of the best around.

Actually .... someone did.  Keller for inspiration, Alton for teaching how to cook.

I like Alton's books a lot, too.  For techniques... well, I wish I had more technique, but a very specific set of techniques is well-explained in Chad Ward's "An Edge in the Kitchen" -- which is dedicated to knives in general, and knife skills in part.  With good recipes that require the skills taught.  I like it a lot
Joined May 9, 2011
I don't understand all the "joy of cooking" hate. It's great for people who want to start cooking with no prior knowledge and I reckon' if I had to choose a single cookbook to live with forever, that would be it. It has a great selection of usable recipes, information regarding produce/technique, uses pictures and diagrams in a helpful but not over the top way and explores a variety of different cuisines. I don't know about others but I grew up on good ol' southern style american cooking. A lot of family favorites passed down from generation to generation, that sort of thing. I can honestly say this book gets pretty close to recreating a lot of those recipes for me(can't always call gramps to check up on that carrot cake recipe). Bottom line is joy of cooking is a great, practical cookbook and a really good reference book for the american lexicon of cookery.

Now, being a professional cook myself, I don't always need a practical book like the joy of cooking. I look to books for inspiration, ideas, new techniques, etc. One essential cookbook for me would have to be Marco-Pierre White's "White Heat". A ton of amazingly simple, elegant masterfully presented dishes. The classic Marco-Pierre dish "Tagliatelle of oyster with caviar", "Braised Pig Trotter: "Pierre Koffman", the classic Gavroche Lemon Tart(which Marco takes a step further by caramelizing the top, genius). These 3 recipes alone make the book worthwhile but in addition you have the stuffed "Sea Bass w/Ratatouille & Essence Of Red Peppers", "Terrine Of Leeks & Langoustines, Water Vinaigrette" and many other great dishes. The photography is top notch and the format of the book is very exciting. I'm glad to see this format has become popular with newer cookbooks like Thomas Keller's books and "Momofuku", etc. I think it's important to have large, color pictures with more complicated/Michelen quality food and It's always great when there are blurbs/explanations to accompany the recipe. I also like photographs of the chef in their own kitchens, action shots and blurbs/writings done by the chef about their philosophy, where their inspiration comes from, etc. All this stuff helps you get a better idea of where they are coming from and what they are trying to achieve which in turn, will help you understand their food.
Joined Jun 13, 2011
Hi Guys first post here :) First off an introduction would be justified. I am 25 years of age, Currently living in Virginia. I have received my culinary certificate from a local community college. I am currently cooking and overseeing banquets at a local country club.

Just searching around the web and ran across this site. I love the diversity that has been presented.

Well to just jump right in their I have been looking for good book on sauces, Also Sculpting Fruits and Vegetables, I do not have a lot of experience in sculpting/carving, I have completed a few centerpieces (learning from youtube). So for beginners to advance would be great.

Also has anyone read the Food Presentation Secrets: Styling Techniques of Professionals . How is this if you have?

Thanks forum!
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Joined Oct 23, 2012
IMO, the best book for you is James Peterson's "Essentials of Cooking". He tells you why you are doing X, how to do it, how much, etc.  Extensive descriptions, photos, procedures.  Second would be "Ruhlman's Twenty" by Michael Ruhlman.  His approach is to break down kitchen art into twenty conceptual areas and dive deep into each, with recipes, explanations, admonitions, etc.

Reading these two guys is like marrying the sister of Chef Layne or Chef McCracken.  Your new brother in law walks you into his kitchen and sez, "This is a knife".
Joined Sep 18, 2012
My 1997 copy of The Joy of Cooking Cookbook is not as good as a 1950’s edition. An angler friend called me over and asked me to bring a recipe for preparing fresh caviar. That old version JOC had a recipe and the new version does not. The JOC is practically useless when dealing with Chinese cuisine. I also do not think JOC tomato sauce for pasta is anywhere near authentic having lived in Italy seven years. The JOC is kind of a basic book. No single book should be the basis of anyone’s cooking.

The most enjoyable way to learn different cuisines is to travel with someone knowledgeable; failing that, dine out often at very good restaurants. Learn what you like in food.  For me, variety is a way of life. I cook and eat food from all over the world and it makes life that much more worthwhile and interesting.

Learning to cook Chinese can teach you what the Chinese have mastered in 5000 years of cooking. Chinese have mastered savory and that can improve any cuisine.

Learning to cook Italian is also very rewarding. Not only do you eat well but appreciate the value of great ingredients.

Cookbooks that do not help you understand ingredients are not as valuable as those that do.

Life is an adventure.
Joined Feb 22, 2013
I'm loving the heated debate about the Joy of cooking.  Mine is a paperback copy from 1980.  Where else can you get iced tea instructions?   Everyday Cooking with Jaques Pepin.  It was one of his first and it still inpires me so much that it's on my kitchen counter and not in my library.  He wanted american wives to be able to cook french type things without spending a fortune.  The chicken liver pate is so good and so beautiful that I've used it for weddings in the same family for two generations.

It freezes well too.  Cookbooks should inspire, you can get everthing else online.

Joined Feb 25, 2013
the la rousse collections- if your creative you dont need anything else! but theres also the delicious collection they are pretty awesome!!

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