I am passionate about many things, but one of the things I’m most passionate about – is cookbooks. I seek inspiration from them, but also seek to increase my knowledge about cooking and food in general. I like reading about the history of different regional cuisines as well as the origin of certain dishes. I am an avid collector, and have a broad range of cookbooks of all different genres. From simple family meal oriented cookbooks, to books that deal with molecular gastronomy. From comfort food, food trucks and burger shacks to small plates and Michelin starred artworks. I love cookbooks. I love getting my hand on a new book. Skimming it through and reading it afterwards or saving it for another day. I feel like a kid at christmas when I get my hand on a new book.
I do have some favorites, and below I will list some of my current faves. I own a fair share of chef-driven autobiographies, and they are my favorite kind of cookbooks. I love when you get an in-depth look into the life of a chef or a restaurant. It’s so inspiring to read their stories, and the dishes are often wildly creative and for the most part complicated to do yourself at home. But that doesn’t really matter to me – I read them mostly just for the inspiration or entertainment value. Does a good cookbook need good pictures? I think so – I own some books that have no pictures at all, and they feel incomplete somehow. I need the visual allure as well as high quality words on paper.
Here are some of my current favorites in no particular order:
Momofuku – David Chang/Peter Meehan
David Chang hardly needs an introduction these days. The Korean-American has been catapulted into chef stardom a long time ago. I like him, because despite his immense talent, and ever-growing restaurant empire, he seems very down to earth. Both from watching him on shows like Mind of a Chef and occasional guest-role elsewhere, to the way he speaks through this book. Momofuku is not a new book in any way, but it’s an important read, and for me an essential purchase after having visited his Momofuku Noodle Bar during a visit to New York, and being completely blown away by his ramen and steamed buns. Something that was totally foreign here in Denmark, at that time. If you’re into groundbreaking asian inspired cuisine, that spawned a global following . Momofuku is your book.
Heritage – Sean Brock
Sean Brock is another of my favorite chefs, and his book Heritage is a work of art. The pictures are beautiful, and from the writing you can feel he’s a man who’s passionate about southern food. He – along with a few carefully selected purveyors – has been responsible for bringing back ingredients, thought to have been extinct. He has sparked a resurgence in southern food, bringing it from the “hood” to the limelight, with new exciting dishes or creative ways of revamping old ones. His restaurants McCready’s and Husk are top of my culinary bucket list, but for now I’ll settle for his excellent book. If you only want one book of southern food in your collection. Make it this one. Highly recommended.
Zahav – Michael Solomonov/Steven Cook
Zahav is loaded with recipes from chef Solomonov’s Israeli restaurant Zahav, in Philadelphia. As with the other books, it also serves as an autobiography, telling the chef’s life story, mainly through food. It’s has very different recipes than cookbooks I normally seek out, which makes it that more interesting. A lot of the recipes are easy to try and duplicate in your home kitchen, which is a huge plus.
Ceviche – Martin Morales
If you’re new to peruvian food, but have heard of ceviche, then give this book a try. Even if you for some odd reason don’t know what ceviche is, you should still read it. Ceviche is also the name of Chef Morales London-based restaurant. The dishes in this book are lively, fresh and in your face. Just the way I like it.
Jamie’s America – Jamie Oliver
I’ve been a fan of Jamie Oliver for a long time, and I actually think one of his older cookbooks was the first real cookbook I ever owned. He might spit out cookbooks left and right these days, and maybe isn’t as edgy as some of the other guys on this list, but he still makes great recipes, and this book – despite not being his newest, by far – is my favorite of his. He tells a great story of some of the places in America that few tourists visit, and translate the dishes he encounters, lovely to this book. The TV-Show based on the book, is also highly watchable. I have directly used or been inspired by many recipes in this great book.
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