The Chefs’ Bookshelf- Part 3
This edition of The Chefs’ Bookshelf could be alternatively titled “Chefs Who Own Many Books.” And I thought my own cookbook selection of 10 cookbooks (and Martha Stewart Living back issues) was a lot! The recommendations from our chefs today span a large time period and cover different cooking styles– from a French fine dining cookbook published in the 1960s to an utterly modern restaurant cookbook published a year ago, to a book of vegetarian recipes. I hope you enjoy the recommendations from our favorite chefs below.
Chef and Owner, Will BYOB, Philadelphia
Recommended cookbook: Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point
Chef Chris, aruguably one of the top chefs in Philadelphia right now, notes Ma Gastronomie by noted French chef Fernand Point as his favorite cookbook. Favorite cookbook out of about 500 on his bookshelves, as he gets a new book every two weeks. (That means this one is really really good.) Chef Chris has a rare first edition of this 1969 publication. Ma Gastronomie “is more than just recipes; it’s a lot of Point’s views on food, restaurants, and cuisine.” Fernand Point revolutionized French cuisine, creating his own versions of classic dishes. Ma Gastronomie shares Point’s provocative takes on food and over 200 of his recipes.
Chef, Mistral, Princeton
Recommended Cookbook: SPQR by Matthew Accarrino
Ben, chef at Scott Anderson’s recently-opened Mistral, recommends (when forced to choose) SPQR by Matthew Accarrino. SPQR is a cookbook and wine guide celebrating innovations of modern Italian cooking, as practiced by Accarrino’s eponymous San Francisco restaurant. Ben appreciates that “not only is [author] Accarrino a great guy, but his food is tasty.” SPQR is “classic in approach but modern in delivery; and the recipes in the book are great for at home as well.”
Chef, A la Maison Personal Chef Service, Bucks County
Recommended cookbooks: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, The Way to Cook and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
Theo is another chef with way too many cookbooks—he sent me picture of his overflowing bookshelves as proof! Theo generally refers to cookbooks for inspiration, not so to actually follow a recipe. He recommends several cookbooks and cookbook authors. Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is a classic (Theo just adds meat), showing basic vegetarian cooking techniques- cooking techniques, combining ingredients, and presenting with style. It’s the definitive guide on vegetarian cooking. Theo’s also a big fan of Julia Child. He likes The Way to Cook the best, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking is “always a fun read.” Theo says “I tend to collect books from restaurants that I’ve enjoyed, however I think that certain key ingredients are always left out of restaurant recipe books. Afterglow, you’ve got to keep people coming back!”
The Chefs’ Bookshelf- Part 2
The Chefs’ Bookshelf
Cookbook Recommendations from Blue Moon’s Favorite Chefs: Part 2
Chef and Owner, Max Hansen Catering, Max Hansen Carversville Grocery, Bucks County
Recommended Cookbooks: Plenty (Yotem Ottolenghi) and Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (Francis Mallmann)
As a committed carnivore, Seven Fires is Max’s absolute favorite with its “amazing meat cookery.” Plenty, a vegetarian cookbook, Max references frequently as well- “it popped back into my consciousness yesterday in about 10 ways!” Seven Fires is South American-top chef Francis Mallmann’s ode to the art of cooking over fire. Mallmann details seven different approaches to grilling, sharing unpretentious recipes with a true love of his craft. On the other end of the spectrum, Plenty, by Israeli-born and London-based Ottolenghi, showcases the authors’ love of ingredients, with vegetarian dishes featuring fresh flavors and combinations.
Executive Chef, Aretsky’s Patroon, New York
Recommended Cookbook: Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (
Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn)
Chef Aaron recommends Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing as a “great book that takes the craft of charcuterie and makes it very accessible.” Charcuterie is a culinary specialty, originally referring to creating products such as salami and sausages, that refers to the art of preserving foods with beauty and taste, using a range of preparations such as salting, smoking, and drying. Ruhlman and Polcyn expand the term to mean things preserved or prepared ahead of time. The cookbook provides 125 recipes, opening the world of charcuterie to both professionals and home cooks.
Executive Chef, The Dandelion, Philadelphia
Recommended Cookbook: Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best – Over 700 Recipes Show You Why (Darina Allen)
Chef Joe had to spend some time considering this question, as he spends a good part of his income on cookbooks. After careful consideration—not just of his favorite, but also if he is ready to share it with everyone—Joe recommends Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking. Allen is the founder and chef instructor of the Ballymaloe Cooking School in Ireland, and passes along basic cooking skills that may have skipped a generation or two in this 600-page tome. Between the recipes, Forgotten Skills of Cooking is about the joys of working for our food, relating to nature, and celebrating with friends and family. “She has a true connection with food. Her philosophy and ideals are what have influenced me on what true cooking is. This book is not just a cook book, it’s a textbook.”
Executive Chef, Domani Star, Bucks County
Recommended Cookbook: Rustic Italian Food; Il viaggio di Vetri: A Culinary Journey (both by Marc Vetri)
Chef Chris recommends Philadelphian Marc Vetri’s cookbooks, Rustic Italian Food and Il viaggio di Vetri. Il viaggio di Vetri is part memoir and part cookbook, covering Vetri’s 18 months of culinary education in Italy, with recipes celebrating meals with family and friends. In Rustic Italian Food, Vetri provides a precision how-to for a wide range of classic Italian dishes, advocating a back-to-the-basics approach to cooking. Chef Chris says that Vetri is “certainly a great chef but more importantly he does things simply, without much fuss and lets the food speak for itself.”
The Chefs’ Bookshelf- Part 1
On Monday night I asked 20 different chefs for cookbook recommendations. By Tuesday morning I had received more than 10 recommendations. I was shocked and incredibly excited. Getting answers from chefs, when you aren’t in a kitchen with them, can be difficult. So it seemed that I had stumbled upon the perfect question, with answers we all are curious to hear.
Below you will find the first three recommendations from our favorite chefs. I’ll reveal more recommendations monthly, so be sure to check back in.
I hope you find these recommendations- and the insight behind them- worthwhile.
The Chefs’ Bookshelf
Cookbook Recommendations from Blue Moon’s Favorite Chefs: Part 1
Chef de Cuisine, Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, DC
Recommended Cookbook: Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, Maxime Bilet)
Chef John just says that this cookbook/encyclopedia/guide to the science of contemporary cooking is “unbelievable.” Modernist Cuisine is a six-volume guide covering history and fundamentals, techniques and equipment, animals and plants, ingredients and preparation, plated dish recipes– everything the modern chef needs to know.
Executive Chef, The Saint James, Ardmore, PA
Recommended Cookbook: Yes, Chef: A Memoir (Marcus Samuelson)
Chef Sylva is just starting in on this cookbook/memoir, which was recommended to him by his chef friend Travis Sparks of Seed to Plate Catering in North Carolina. The book is “intriguing” so far, with mentions and pictures of Acquavit and Mercer Kitchen, where Sylva starred as a chef in New York.
Executive Chef, Amali, New York City
Recommended Cookbook: Origin: The Food of Ben Shewry (Ben Shewry)
This is a “beautiful cookbook,” “full of stories and amazing recipes.” The author, Ben Shewry, is chef at the award-winning Australian restaurant Attica. Shewry is known for his foraging, and using what the earth provides without depleting its resources. Chef Junior recommends Origin as a storytelling book about Shewry’s family, how to forage, and how to appreciate nature.