StarChefs COOKBOOK Wish List
By Erin Hollingsworth
December 2006
If we were going to buy 12 cookbooks this year, these would be the ones we would choose. For whatever it’s worth, that’s the methodology at work here and we’re confident you’ll like them as much as we do.

Tom  Aikens Cooking on StarChefs.comTom Aikens Cooking
Tom Aikens (Ebury Publishing, 2006)
Tom Aikens, the infamous chef behind London restaurant of the same name, and the youngest chef to win two Michelin stars, brings us his first cookbook, Tom Aikens Cooking. In it, he follows the fashion of dividing recipes by ingredient rather than course, but he excels at this, offering asparagus, for instance, in five different preparations, at five different levels of difficulty. With stylized pictures to match many of the recipes, food philosophy throughout and a real sense that Aikens actually wrote the book, Tom Aikens Cooking is a great find.

The Soul of a New Kitchen: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa on StarChefs.comThe Soul of a New Kitchen: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
Marcus Samuelsson (Wiley, 2006)
Aquavit’s Marcus Samuelsson writes his follow-up cookbook, a culinary journey through the expansive African continent, with recipes like pilafs of the Mediterranean North, fresh fish, herbs and citrus of the south, and stews of Ethiopia, where he was born. The book explores a variety of ingredients and flavors, often surprisingly reminiscent of Latin cuisine, spiked with the distinctive burn of harissa and the aroma of allspice, cumin, coriander and chile. Sweet-savory Jerk Chicken with a Garlic and Lime Yogurt Sauce, piquant Pickled Cabbage Slaw with Grapefruit and Herbs, and crunchy, Golden Pomegranate Rice share space with color-saturated photographs and political and biographical-laden prose.

El Bulli 2003-2004 On StarChefs.comEl Bulli 2003-2004
Ferran Adria and Juli Soler (Ecco, 2006)
The long-awaited follow-up to the 1998-2002 edition arrived this November, and, El Bulli 2003-2004 is just what you’d expect – imaginative, innovative, iconic. El Bulli is a kind-of grown-up culinary picture book, each picture telling its own story, but then fortified with explanations on the evolution of many of the dishes and ideas for ineffably creative presentations. The book comes with a CD-ROM, where you’ll find all the recipes and the entire contents of the cloth-bound book.

n the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating On StarChefs.comHappy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating
Michel Richard (Artisan, 2006)
Ideally we are, as the title would have us be, happy in the kitchen. Michel Richard’s new cookbook gives us reason to be happy in the library, bookstore or sure, kitchen and as cheesy as it sounds you can’t help but warm-up a little to the idea after reading through the book, looking at the pictures, and trying the fun, high-concept recipes. The more than 200 recipes will have you basking in the modern French luxury that is his Citronelle cuisine.

Big Small Plates on StarChefs.comBig Small Plates
Cindy Pawlcyn (Ten Speed Press, 2006)
Buy this book because the recipes are flavorful, diverse and conducive to infinite applications. Perfect for amuse bouche, small plate menus, or traditional dinners, dishes like Swordfish with Roasted Cauliflower, Caper Berries and Parsley Salad absolutely soar. California restaurateur and cookbook author Cindy Pawlcyn has written a serious book that comes with the highest recommendation.

Tartine on StarChefs.comTartine
Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson (Chronicle Books, 2006)
Pastry Chef Elisabeth Prueitt and Baker Chad Robertson share many of the recipes that have made San Francisco’s Tartine such a neighborhood phenomenon: cakes, breakfast pastries, puddings, creams and yes, tartines. And while the recipes are very good, and easy to follow, it’s the delicate prose and thoughtful consideration of why each recipe and ingredient is included, when you’ll want to make it, and how it might make you feel to eat it that makes Tartine a memorable cookbook and great gift.

The Essence of Chocolate On StarChefs.comThe Essence of Chocolate
John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg (Hyperion, 2006)
Truly a sophisticated chocolate book. On the one hand it’s a classic chocolate cookbook, organized according to chocolate intensity, with puddings, cakes, cookies, and fudge filling the “Essentially Chocolate” section; cheesecakes, gingerbreads and challah in the “Hint of Chocolate” section. On the other hand, it’s a how-to chocolate guide from the soil, to the cutting board, to the bain-marie. Finally it’s a history and biography of the Scharffen Berger chocolate company, a must-have.

The Professional Chef, 8th Edition on StarChefs.comThe Professional Chef, 8th Edition
The Culinary Institute of America (Wiley, 2006)
The aptly named Professional Chef is tremendous in its size and amibitous in its breadth, featuring beurre blanc how-to, beef diagrams , restaurant cost analysis and hundreds of recipes. This, the eighth edition, adds over 600 new pictures and explores global cuisine in-depth. In short, The Professional Chef is required reading in the classroom and for the kitchen.

One Spice, Two Spice on StarChefs.comOne Spice, Two Spice
Floyd Cardoz with Jane Daniel Lear (William Morrow, 2006)
The cover blurb from One Spice, Two Spice, “American food, Indian flavors,” says a lot about the kind of food you’ll find both at Floyd Cardoz’ New York Tabla and inside the book. The fusion trend of yesteryear may no longer be the foodies’ buzz, rather fusion has been undeniably assimilated into the American culinary landscape and recipes like Goan Spiced Crab Cakes and Pan-Roasted Salmon in Banana Leaves with Mustard Greens are prefect examples of crowd pleasing but slightly nuanced fare this spicy book includes.

The Improvisational Cook On StarChefs.comThe Improvisational Cook
Sally Schneider (William Morrow, 2006)
Chefs know that understanding and curiosity are prerequisites for true culinary innovation. In The Improvisational Cook, Sally Schneider delves through a panorama of ingredients and recipes explaining what they are and the intrinsic logic behind them. She offers classic recipes, like Caesar Dressing, modifying them based on years of testing and offering numerous suggestions to make them more exciting. Ultimately, the book is a kind-of stream-of-consciousness peak at a chef’s interior monologue, a journey from brownie to black pepper cookie.

Starting with the Ingredients on StarChefs.comStarting with the Ingredients
Aliza Green (Running Press, 2006)
Aliza Green’s Starting with the Ingredients is an impressive effort to catalog and capture the essence of over 100 distinct ingredients. To this end, each chapter features its own seasonal item (blueberries and blackberries share a chapter, strawberries get their own), with basic information like when to buy it and what to look for, but she also talks about its history, shares an anecdote or two and several recipes. Ingredients is impressive in its scope and great to have around for chefs and home-cooks alike.

Keys to the Cellar: Strategies and Secrets of Wine Collecting on StarChefs.comKeys to the Cellar: Strategies and Secrets of Wine Collecting
Peter D. Meltzer (Wiley, 2006)
Every cookbook collector, oenophile and food enthusiast needs a wine book or two and Keys to the Cellar is a great option this year. Peter Meltzer walks through the basics of tasting, but only briefly, moving on to more involved topics such as determining a wine’s age-worthiness. The book’s real strength is in its wine cellar nomenclature: is yours an investment cellar or an “instant gratification cellar”? Meltzer will tell you how to be a better collector depending on your personal wine collecting proclivities and interests. This is an excellent resource for chefs running their own wine programs!