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Chef Gusteau’s Top 10 Culinary Books

January 25, 2010

by Chef Gusteau

After reading so many of Anton’s great lists, I thought it about time that I create a fun list of my own.  Every cook has dozens, if not more, cook books and other culinary books in their literary arsenal.  I include both cook books as well as culinary, non-recipe, books in this list because I think they are equally important.  Also, I thought it fun to list some books that mean a lot to me, that perhaps some of you seasoned cooks/Chefs haven’t tried yet.  That doesn’t mean that they are all James Beard Award winners.  They just mean a lot to me, and have inspired my culinary pursuits.  Finally, I am not a baker or pastry chef in any regard.  Therefore, no complaints please if I don’t list “Bread” by Bernhard Clayton (see how I just did that?!) Now, let’s get to it!

10.  Mexico One Plate at a Time, Rick Bayless:   Great combination of ease of use, fun and authentic recipes, and plate presentation ideas.  Quality Chef that keeps it simple and delicious.

9.  Culinary Artistry, Dornenburg & Page: A must have among serious cooks/chefs.  Best part of the book is in listing the combinations of foods and spices, and what great pairings would be, by season!  Ever wonder what herbs to use with lobster?  Here is where you find those type of answers.

8.  LaRousse Gastronomique, Joel Robuchon: Culinary bible, pure and simple.  Best culinary encyclopedia in my humble opinion.

7.  On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee: Great book for you Alton Brown wannabe’s.  This book deals with the science behind cooking and food ingredients.  Ever wonder how to make egg whites fluffier, or why copper bowls are best and stainless steel the worst for whipping egg whites…those answers and more in this book.

6.  Roasting, Barbara Kafka:  I encountered this book a long time ago.  Roasting is a very easy cooking technique that produces such taste and texture complexities.  Just think, how can a roasted turkey be so moist and juicy on the inside while the skin is as crispy as a potato chip (which is ideal, right?)?  This book goes into roasting science, techniques and many great recipes.

5.  Sauces, James Peterson: I heard one time that a chef uses great sauces to hide poorly done food.  While that might be true, I find it hard to believe that any chef capable of producing a great sauce would ever screw up and serve bad food.  In any case, the best chefs create great food and a wonderful sauce to compliment the food.   All sauce types, science, and techniques are contained.  Wonderful book.  Maybe after you finish the book, your demiglace’s can rival Chef Gusteau’s!

4.  Charlie Trotter’s, Charlie Trotter: First influential book that combined both food porn and attainable recipes.  No doubt that Charlie Trotter is among the world’s finest chefs, just as there is no doubt that at least this first of his countless books deserves a place on your culinary shelf.

3.  Blue Ginger, Ming Tsai: Personal favorite.  I met Ming Tsai many years ago, drank and ate with him.  Amazing person, even better Chef.  This book is a great collection of amazing, yet practical recipes that you’ll enjoy adding to your repertoire.

2.  The French Laundry, Thomas Keller: The Holy Grail of Cook Books hands down.  The pictures alone will astound you.  The recipes are challenging, but the manner in which Chef Keller approaches food and cooking should inspire even the most anti-culinary individuals out there.

1.   In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, Julia Child: You knew Julia Child had to be on the list.  This is my favorite from her.  I enjoyed watching the accompanying shows on PBS many years back.  It was quite humorous.  You’d watch amazing chefs like Trotter alongside Julia Child, and there was no question who the real Master Chef was.  She had such a quiet and gentle way of kicking ass in the kitchen.  This book recreates the recipes and Master Chef interactions.  Lots of fun, and great recipes, too.

Very Honorable Mention:

These books, listed alphabetically by title, were great and informative reads, well worth seeking out.

A Cook at Heart, Michael Lyons: Fun and informative book about a professional consultant who gave it all away to pursue his dream to become a chef.  He takes you through his time at culinary school to his first cooking job, to the day he became a chef.  Have to call this book an original as he did it over 6 years ago…nowadays everyone is quitting their jobs to become a chef.  Can’t say that I blame them!

Art Culinaire, Inc: Awesome food magazine that comes out quarterly.  Hard bound, great recipes and pictures.  Qualifies as food porn, but very practical as well.

Essential Cuisine, Michel Bras: This is the original food porn.  Recipes aren’t too accessible, but the techniques for plate presentation will blow you away.  Ever notice how some chefs plate a meal and it looks like miniature herbs and small, delicate food items have been scattered “randomly” across the plate?  It looks like edible art, and it takes a lot of practice.  As you might guess, those items are not randomly thrown on each plate.  Balance of color, size, taste, etc. all come into play.

Onions, Onions, Onions, Linda and Fred Griffith: Local author and amazing cook in her own right…and a James Beard Award winner.  As you might guess, all about onions in this book.  Great recipes, wonderful information, and fun book.  Must have…perhaps you’ll get an autographed copy like mine?

Return to Cooking, Eric Ripert: Amazing Chef, and a great book.  The concept is a fun one as well.  Everyone perceives that today’s mega-chefs no longer cook.  While that may be true, Chef Ripert challenged himself to get back to the basics and start cooking again.  He believes a chef’s place is in the kitchen, and this book shows he belongs on the list of the world’s best chefs.

Ok…I didn’t mention Michael Symon’s new book Live to Cook.  I don’t have it yet.  I hear it is wonderful, and I know that Chef Symon is a great chef and wonderful person as well.  I just don’t have the book.  If you’d like to send me a copy…great!

Monsieur Anton says:  It’s difficult for me to address this list in that I haven’t read a lot of cookbooks beyond Cooking for Dummies,” but given the impressive list of names involved it may be time for a trip to the library. I walk by a boutique bookstore every day, and they always have some very cool looking cookbooks in the window, and I have vowed to stop in and check them out, it’s just that I tend to never make it past the bar and wine books in the same section (no comments Gusteau).

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2010 1:29 pm

    It would have been wrong for me to vote for anything other than Live to Cook, right? In all honesty, I don’t own many cookbooks and Live to Cook is one of the few I’ve dug into deep. I am interested in picking up a copy of Bayless’s book since I love his restaurants and Mexican food in general. Have any recommendations for Italian books?

  2. January 26, 2010 1:51 pm

    I’m blown away! Thank you so very much. We love our 3rd child…actually love all 6 of our children. But admit to a special fondness for this one. Thank you so much for this special mention. If you don’t have the others, please let me know. Linda

  3. February 8, 2010 5:17 pm

    I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.

    • February 8, 2010 6:08 pm

      Thanks for checking us out and happy that we weren’t boring! Chef Gusteau.

  4. August 12, 2011 5:33 pm

    Gusteau u are just great

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