The Classic Cookbooks That Shaped My Career as a Chef and Writer

The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth,” by Roy Andries de Groot

This book is less a cookbook and more a fantastical memoir. It’s full of classic French cooking and beautiful imagery of the natural world, which is doubly inspiring knowing that de Groot lost almost all of his sense of sight during the London Blitz.

The Cooking of Southwest France” and “Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco,” by Paula Wolfert

About once a year we’d make cassoulet and hand-rolled couscous at Chez Panisse. Both dishes are far too labor intensive to make much more often than that, but when we did set out to make them, Wolfert’s carefully recorded recipes guided us.

“Simple French Food,” by Richard Olney

If there were a bible that guided the cooking of Chez Panisse, this would be it.

Chez Panisse Café Cookbook,” by David Tanis and Alice Waters

The “Café Cookbook” was published just before I started working at Chez Panisse, and it was the go-to referral for anyone who passed through the doors of the kitchen. At the time, before the publication of “The Art of Simple Food,” it was the most simple, straightforward introduction to the kind of cooking Chez Panisse was known for. Now, after all these years of familiarity with the place, I love the book for its quirks more than anything else. My favorite is on Page 150 in the headnote for the recipe for Roast Suckling Pig, which instructs: “You can cook a small pig in a conventional home oven, but with a little effort and ingenuity you can construct a workable outdoor spit from a few pieces of wood.”

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking,” by Marcella Hazan

Hazan’s recipes, both specific and sensual, became the foundation for my own style of cooking, which I sometimes call “Obsessive-Impulsive.” I also credit her with starting my obsession with bay leaves.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” by Julia Child

The list wouldn’t have been…

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