We all have good cookbooks at home but which cookbooks do top chefs turn to?
The answers vary from chef to chef, from London to New York. Lots of differing opinions as you’d expect.
We talked to many chefs and these were the books that they say every home cook ought to have a copy of.
James Martin (of BBC Good Food) Recommends – Larousse Gastronomique
A safe choice but this is definitely one of THE cookbook choices of chefs everywhere.
First printed in the 1930s and brought up to date regularly (the 2001 edition has 1,350 pages) – this is an absolute belter of a cookbook (it also appears on our best French cookbooks list).
It gives you the classic French terminology for food and a real insight into how cooking is about combining flavors and inspiration for recipes of every kind!
Nelson Gonzales (of Kinship in Hong Kong) Recommends – The Flavor Bible by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen A Page
If you find yourself as a chef where your recipes call for a certain ingredient or you have some food laying around in the fridge and you’re not sure what you should be cooking it with?
The Flavor Bible is for you. This is all about how you bring food together to create recipes and dishes that stand out from the ordinary cookbook fare and are elevated to the level of art.
Raymond Blanc (world-famous French Chef) recommends – French Cooking in Ten Minutes by Edouard de Pomiane
Simple and with a distinct reverence for all things French this cookery book is an absolute classic.
You may be surprised to learn that the author is not a chef, but rather a scientist who combined expertise in nutritional and medicinal values of food in everything that he created!
Scott Price (founder of the Nick & Scott restaurant group) recommends – White Heat by Marco Pierre White
White Heat was one of the first things that Scott was told to buy when he started out as a pro chef.
He says the recipes blew him away and that cooking from this cookbook still makes him inspired and excited more than 20 years after his career in food began! That’s a serious recommendation and one that we are happy to echo.
Cooking dishes like “tagliatelle of vegetables” will help you develop the skills to make your own food recipes that rock people’s worlds.
Marco also features in our best cookbooks of all time article here.
Ping Coombes (Masterchef Winner) Recommends – The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon
This is probably cheating given that this is a 7 book series but Charmaine Solomon’s approach to Asian food is superlative.
Ping says that a lot of the time, she starts researching each recipe by comparing notes with Charmaine and digging down into the history of each ingredient and dish!
Brodie Meah (Cofounder of Top Cuvee) Recommends – Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain
Culinary inspiration of a different form lurks in the pages of Bourdain’s “knowledge for cooks” text which is all about the kinds of techniques and dishes that restaurants prepare.
That means it’s not for the beginner but when you’re seeking the knowledge to turn you from a cook into a chef, that’s when you want this awesome guide.
We also love Anthony’s biography – Kitchen Confidential.
Barney Desmazery (Editor of BBC Good Food) Recommends Nose To Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson
If you want to escape fussy restaurant perfection and go with something more rustic, this is the book for you.
Barney says it’s foolproof when it comes to following the contents and the recipes are good enough to inspire many of the UK’s greatest restaurants and chefs.
Anthea Stephenson (Cofounder of Wild Radish) Recommends – Leiths Cookery Bible by Prue Leith
Anthea says that it might be overstating it to say that this book changed her life but she feels that it’s the best book for cooks to truly understand the food that they are making.
Combine it with the “Techniques Bible” and she says you have everything you need to make a convincing show in the world’s top restaurants.
However, Anthea says that beyond the book, you will also need plenty of practice before you’re ready to work in a restaurant.
Tom Kitchin (Founder of Kitchin) Recommends – Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse’s Culinary Encyclopaedia by Alain Ducasse
Ducasse is a legend among chefs and this 700 recipe work is his greatest achievement.
You just can’t go wrong with this book.
Marwa Alkhalaf (Chef-Director of Nutshell) Recommends – Modernist Cuisine: The Art And Science Of Cooking by Maxime Bilet and Nathan Myhrvold
This massive collection of recipes is all about the scientific approach to food.
It’s not cheap but then, it’s really 5 books of recipes rather than one and each book tackles a different area of working in the kitchen.
For such a top-rated book set, it’s also surprisingly straightforward to use and easy to read.
It might surprise you to see that there are no James Beard award winners on the list here. But rather amazing books that seek to understand delicious foods throughout the ages.
Whatever kinds of cuisines you’re in to, the chef’s picks have you covered.