search
Loading
login |  home | feedback | help          
StarChefs
header

Top 10 Cookbooks 2010

by Kathleen Culliton
November 2010

Top 10 Cookbooks

1. Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine
René Redzepi (Phaidon Press)

2. Heston's Fantastical Feasts
Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury USA)

3. Taste Buds and Molecules
François Chartier (McClelland & Stewart)

4. Ideas in Food
Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot (Clarkson Potter Publishers)

5. Avec Eric: A Culinary Journey with Eric Ripert
Eric Ripert (John C. Wiley & Sons)

6. Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined
Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric (Ten Speed Press)

7. Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe
Joanne Chang (Chronicle Books)

8. Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes
Mark Bitterman (Ten Speed Press)

9. Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat
Deborah Krasner (Stewart, Tabori, & Chang)

10. Ferran: The Inside Story of el Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food
Colman Andrews (Gotham Books)

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Thai Street Food
David Thompson (Ten Speed Press)

Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen
Ethan Stowell and Leslie Miller (Ten Speed Press)

The digital age is upon us and it’s pretty common to hear people griping about how no one reads books anymore. Clearly these gripers aren’t talking to the chefs, bakers, sommeliers, mixologists and bartenders, who spend their lives producing, contributing to, and even reading the myriad cookbooks published each year. A plethora of professional-caliber cookbooks came out in 2010 that are worth sticking one’s nose into for inspiration, for research, and for pleasure. Here are the books that StarChefs.com finds worthy of shutting down the computer or putting down that whisk and running to the bookstore.


Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine

1. Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine

René Redzepi
Phaidon Press
October 2010

Some restaurants trade on more than providing food—they provide an experience. When a cookbook bears the name of such a restaurant that cookbook has a lot to live up to. Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine does not miss the mark. Head Chef René Redzepi has created new flavor profiles within locavore cuisine by focusing in on solely Nordic ingredients. The beauty of his cookbook is that the same attention paid to the process of creating this cuisine is paid to the dishes themselves. Redzepi's journal published alongside the recipes give meaning to the gorgeous plating techniques of culinary feats. You come to understand that for Redzepi, it’s not just technique, it’s an act of love. As is the book; with its bold style, evocative photography, and awe-inspiring recipes, the second Noma Cookbook begs for a place on your bookshelf.

back to top

Heston's Fantastical Feasts

2. Heston's Fantastical Feasts

Heston Blumenthal.
Bloomsbury USA
September 2010

If you’re the chef who was drawn to the kitchen because of a strange obsession with reading (not watching!) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then rejoice, because your adulthood sequel has been released. Heston’s Fantastical Feasts gives both Roald Dahl and Ferran Adria a run for their money when it comes to edible fancy. This whimsical book flees from grownup preoccupations with practicality and convenience. It’s a collection of six feasts inspired by mythology, fantasy, fairy tails, and the bizarre. Nothing is off limits for Blumenthal, whose telling response to the sous chef who offers him a pair of boar’s eyeballs is “I’ll try them if you will.” Whether molding a more digestible version of the fatal iceberg in “Titanic Feasts” or giving a shout out to his mentor with his “BFG and the Golden Ticket”, Blumenthal’s fertile imagination and perfected craftsmanship keep you guessing, laughing, and absolutely boggled.

back to top

Taste Buds and Molecules

3. Taste Buds and Molecules

François Chartier
McClelland & Stewart
September 2010

Canadian Sommelier François Chartier takes food and wine pairing to the next level in his revolutionary guide to uncovering hidden tastes of wine in Tastebuds and Molecules. Anyone familiar with the work of Bernard Lahousse of FoodPairings will already have a brief idea of Chartier’s methodology. Deconstructing ingredients and wine to their most basic molecular structure, he offers insight on why certain pairings work and others don’t. Rather than focus on the similarity of flavor profiles, Chartier steers his reader towards making complementary choices. By bringing science to an elusive art, Chartier provides access for everyone, from the novice wine aficionado to the Master Sommelier, with practical methods for enhancing the dining experience through greater sensual understanding.

back to top

Ideas in Food

4. Ideas in Food

Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot
Clarkson Potter Publishers
December 2010

Ideas in Food is a portable book jam packed with information for professional chefs and advanced home cooks. Husband and wife team Alexander Talbot and Aki Kamozawa of Ideas in Food, LLC work with chefs through their consulting company and their blog to make food science understandable and accessible. The book is divided into one section for home cooks and another for professionals. The former section covers topics that one would mostly likely pick up in culinary school; topics like brining and dehydrating are deconstructed, explained, and utilized in tempting recipes. But it’s in the professional chapters that Talbot and Kamozawa get really interesting: they decipher hydrocolloids from xanthan gum to locust bean gum, expound on translutaminase, and clarify the use liquid nitrogen. Most chefs know that these chemical catalysts can transform mere ingredients into conceptual and elegant dishes, but readers of Ideas in Food will understand how.

back to top

Avec Eric: A Culinary Journey with Eric Ripert

5. Avec Eric: A Culinary Journey with Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert
John C. Wiley & Sons
October 2010

On learning to make pasta from Italian chef Giovana Carcasci, Ripert writes, “even though I’m a trained chef and know many different culinary techniques, there is nothing like learning a technique from an artist.” The same thought might occur to the reader of Avec Eric: A Culinary Journey with Eric Ripert. From Sonoma to the Cayman Islands to Chianti, the book follows Ripert, the nationally celebrated chef of Le Bernadin and numerous restaurants with The Ritz Carlton Hotels, on a culinary journey complete with elegant recipes and artistic photographs. Ripert adapts classic French technique to the various regional cuisines covered in Avec Eric with resulting recipes that are simple and decadent, beautiful and tempting. Since half the joy of Ripert’s cuisine is the influence of location, Angie Mosier’s scenic shots of coastlines and mountainsides whet the appetite as effectively as the aroma of Ripert’s Cacciucco Alla Livornese simmering on the stovetop.

back to top

Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagineds

6. Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined

Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric
Ten Speed Press
October 2010

Why is it that most how-to bartending books are so…dry? Shouldn’t the creation of a cocktail have the same spirit (so to speak) as the drinking of it? To watch Nick Charles waltzing with his cocktail shaker, or to ask James Bond how he takes his drink is to understand that it takes more than the ability to read a recipe to make a great drink—it takes style. 2005 New York Rising Star Bar Chef Jason Kosmas and Mixologist Dushan Zaric, authors of Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined, the guys who brought the mustache back to the bar, work hard night after night to craft Prohibition cocktail classics with a modern toolkit and ingredient list. Each drink featured in this bartender’s guide features a history of the mix, the alcohol, and concepts of reinvention. Organic eaters and locavores will be relieved when they read recommendations for fresh ingredients over processed one; like cherries soaked in amaretto rather than dye and preservative-laden maraschinos. And cocktail aficionados everywhere will find a lively guide, easily worthy of the increasingly heavy mixology shelf.

back to top

Flour

7. Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

Joanne Chang
Chronicle Books
October 2010

2009 Boston Rising Star Chef Joanne Chang originally came to Cambridge with business mathematics in mind. Fortunately for sweet-toothed Bostonians she quickly traded in her graphing calculator for a baker’s scale. Flour is the compilation of dessert and bread recipes she’s been honing at her homey bakery Flour. Chang’s precise verging-on-obsessive instructions set Flour apart: her attention to ingredient temperature and preparation teach the reader to think like a baker. While Chang gleaned much of her technical skill from mastering French technique at Payard with Chef François himself, she gravitates towards the American style desserts denied her as a child. Staple American pastries like Oreos and Pop Tarts are redefined as homey treats that achieve a surprising elegance. Also worth a look is the “Other Sweets” chapter where Chang showcases her creativity, catering towards the adult palate with desserts such as Lemon Sherbert and Prosecco Sorbet and Ginger Tuile Cups with Champagne Sabayon and Fresh Berries.

back to top

Salted

8. Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes

Mark Bitterman
Ten Speed Press
October 2010

How many times have you tasted a dinner cooked perfectly, plated beautifully, and ruined in a moment by a dash too much or too little of salt? Salt is one of those ingredients that isn’t often dealt with at length, yet is elemental to the craft of cuisine. In his book, Mark Bitterman seeks to educate the cook on the creativity, flavor, and quality that can be enhanced in a dish by using the correct salt. He approaches his subject scientifically, economically, culturally, and nutritionally. Going through the various methods of cooking meat, Bitterman breaks down which salts work best and why; don’t use kosher salt to grill because it will absorb all the moisture, he writes. His plating innovations are also note-worthy; chocolate fondant served in a pink Himalayan salt bowl works wonders for elegance and taste. After absorbing Salted the reader will understand Cassiodorus’ belief that “man can live without gold… but not without salt.”

back to top

Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat

9. Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat

Deborah Krasner
Stewart, Tabori, & Chang
September 2010

Deborah Krasner offers an unsentimental perspective on a hot button issue with this book on the complete process of preparing sustainable meat. Each chapter, simply titled after a specific type of meat, covers pasturing or raising the animal, understanding the anatomy by cut, and cooking the meat. She writes candidly about the unsavory facets of sourcing such as the slaughtering process and how to name animals you know you will eventually serve. Serene pictures of a cow and her calf are bluntly paired with photographs of breaking down a shank of beef. Looking at the animal as both a living creature and a food product isn’t necessarily pleasant, but it’s honest. You might find yourself coming to terms with mortality at breakneck speed when you start reading the recipes: nothing is off limits, including (naturally) off-cuts.

back to top

Ferran: The Inside Story of el Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food

10. Ferran: The Inside Story of el Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food

Colman Andrews
Gotham Books
October 2010

With the close of el Bulli drawing disturbingly nearer, some people are doing just about anything for a final glimpse of the promised-land restaurant nestled between the hilltops of Catalonia. For those hoping to channel the restaurant through imagination, Colman Andrews offers himself as a guide with an insider's look and doesn't stint on praise for Adria. Likening him to the great iconic artists of the 20th century (think the cast of characters of Picasso at the Lapin Agile) Andrews writes, “Ultimately, Ferran has reinvented food.” Andrews has such faith in Adria’s vision that pages of the book are devoted simply to deconstructing a single night’s menu. And while the reader is allowed to follow Adria through the 30-some-odd courses of a typical el Bulli evening, other places remain off limits; his home life remains a misty background to the sharp and telling details of the restaurant. In placing Adria among the great artists of our time, Andrews offers a definitive argument for the culinary arts as legitimate a creative expression as music, painting, or dance.

back to top

Thai Street Food

HONORABLE MENTION
Thai Street Food

David Thompson
October 2010
Ten Speed Press

When Chef David Thompson opened his second outpost of Nahm in Bangkok with the intention of preserving the “decaying” culinary tradition of Thai food in Bangkok, local foodies were outraged. Can anyone say cojones in Thai? Yet readers of Thai Street Food will find it difficult to reproach Thompson when he makes it so clear how much he loves Thai cuisine. The book, dedicated solely to the street food cuisine of city markets and vendors, is an education unto itself. Following meals from morning, noon, and night, this culinary day-in-the-life is packed to the brim with urban deep fried delicacies, exotic curries, and even a mandatory pad thai. Thompson’s restaurants may have caused its initial stir in Bangkok for all the wrong reasons, but this book is going to cause a stir for the right ones.

back to top

Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen

HONORABLE MENTION
Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen

Ethan Stowell and Leslie Mille
September 2010
Ten Speed Press

2009 Seattle Rising Star Ethan Stowell masterfully adapts the Italian culinary philosophy in creative recipes that spotlight the local Northwestern ingredients for which the chef-owner of Seattle’s , How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, and Staple & Fancy Mercantile are renowned. Stowell breaks it down simply: “it’s got to be good, but it’s also got to fun.” Along this vein are recipes that a host could make with a glass of wine in hand, gently sautéing, and possibly telling a joke. The recipes cover the breadth of Italian cuisines, but if there is a region he focuses on for sourcing his ingredients, it’s the northwest—of the US that is. Like most Italian chefs, Stowell likes his food to come from the neighborhood. It is this focus on ingredients that elevates New Italian Kitchen above the rank and file of Italian cookbooks.

back to top