Top Five Books for Chefs and Aspiring Chefs
Are you an amateur chef or are you thinking about becoming a chef? I wanted to share with you some of my favorite books that have marked my life as a chef and that I still use often.
1. Le Repertoire De La Cuisine by Louis Saulnier First published in 1914, Le Répertoire de La Cuisine is an international treasure in the culinary world. Written by Louis Saulnier, a student of Escoffier himself, the Répertoire (as it is commonly known) is a shorthand guide to the cuisine of the master. Concise and incredibly comprehensive, it is the final word on the recipes, terminology, and techniques that make up classic French cooking. You won’t find big glossy photos; meticulous lists of ingredients and instructions; or details about measurements, temperature and the like here. The Répertoire is a handy, highly portable, quick reference for those who are already well versed in the classic techniques.
2. Larousse Gastronomique by Prosper Montagne Larousse Gastronomique has been the foremost resource of culinary knowledge since its initial publication in 1938. Long revered for its encyclopedic entries on everything from cooking techniques, ingredients, and recipes to equipment, food histories, and culinary biographies, it is the one book every professional chef and avid home cook must have on his or her kitchen shelf so they will find a chef inside of them . With entries arranged in encyclopedic fashion, Larousse Gastronomique is a fantastic read for anyone who loves food.
3. French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller Thomas Keller, chef/proprieter of the French Laundry in the Napa Valley—one of the best places to eat in the United States. Most dazzling is how simple Keller’s methods are: squeegeeing the moisture from the skin on fish so it sautées beautifully; poaching eggs in a deep pot of water for perfect shape; the initial steeping in the shell that makes cooking raw lobster out of the shell a cinch; using vinegar as a flavor enhancer; the repeated washing of bones for stock for the cleanest, clearest tastes.From innovative soup techniques to the creation of breathtaking desserts; The French Laundry Cookbook captures, through recipes, essays, profiles, and extraordinary photography, one of America’s great restaurants, its great chef, and the food that makes both unique. One hundred and fifty superlative recipes are exact recipes from the French Laundry kitchen that will find a chef—no shortcuts have been taken, no critical steps ignored, all have been thoroughly tested in home kitchens. If you can’t get to the French Laundry, you can now re-create at home the very experience the Wine Spectator described as “as close to dining perfection as it gets.”
4. Thai Street Food by David Thompson Thai Street Food transports readers straight into the bustling heart of Thailand’s colorful street stalls and markets–from the predawn rounds of monks fanning out along the aisles to the made-to-order stalls ablaze in neon and jammed with hungry locals after dark. Featuring nearly 100 authentic dishes plus lavish photography accompanying every recipe, this stunning cookbook is the definitive guide to Thailand’s culinary street culture. Scholar and chef David Thompson lives with a singular passion for Thailand’s customs, culture, and people. Although he claims “It’s all about the food,” this ambitious work shares his insights into the rhythms and nuances of Thai daily life along with a fascinating history of its richly diverse street cuisine. This cookbook is a tempting, inspiring, and authoritative account of Thai street food, the vibrant culinary mosaic rich with community.
5. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain After twenty-five years of ‘sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine’, chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain has decided to tell all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown; from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop the Rockefeller Center to drug dealers in the East Village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain’s tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable, as shocking as they are funny. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.