Chefs’ Table: Books On Food And Cooking
From the science of cooking to its history. From cross cultural experiences to bad-boy chefs and their travels. From magic realism that mixes food and love and life to restaurants that have shaped modern cooking. These books have influenced generations of professional and home cooks.
BloombergQuint spoke to Sanjeev Kapoor, bestselling author and TV host, Rohit Gambhir, executive chef at The Oberoi, chef Vicky Ratnani, Ranveer Brar, chef and food stylist, and Pooja Dhingra, pastry chef and owner of Le 15 Patisserie, to list their top reads.
On Food And Cooking By Harold McGee
On Food and Cooking pioneered the translation of technical food science into cook-friendly kitchen science and initiated the inventive culinary movement known as “molecular gastronomy”.
“This is one of the first chefs who covers the science of cooking, working on the why of everything,” Kapoor said.
Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing The Science Of Cooking By Hervé This
Hervé This is known for his ground-breaking research into the chemistry and physics behind everyday cooking. His work is consulted widely by amateur cooks and professional chefs and has changed the way food is approached and prepared all over the world.
In Kitchen Mysteries, Hervé This offers his world-renowned insight into the science of cooking, answering such fundamental questions as what causes vegetables to change color when cooked and how to keep a soufflé from falling, Kapoor said.
Modernist Cuisine By Nathan Myhrvold
This five set book, written by former CTO of Microsoft, is a “path-breaking series on modern cooking styles,” said Kapoor. This book is dedicated to the history of cooking, as well as fundamental scientific principles that govern the way people grow, eat, cook and store food. It also explores the physics of water and food, heat and energy, food safety, and microbiology, he said.
What Einstein Told His Cook By Robert Wolke
Wolke, who holds a PhD in nuclear chemistry, debunks common food myths in this book, Kapoor said. It covers topics such as softening hardened brown sugar, removing (or not) excess salt from soup with a potato, and issues related to non-stick cookware.
Indian Food, A Historical Companion By KT Achaya
This book looks into the aspects of ancient Indian cooking its evolution through the years. The book outlines the variety of cuisines, food materials, and dishes that collectively fall under the term ‘Indian food’.
Culinaria France: A Celebration Of Food And Tradition By Andre Dominique
This volume provides a completely up-to-date portrait of the richness of French specialties, and explores French cuisine in detail.
Plenty By Yotam Ottlenghi
This book is an exclusive collection of vegetarian recipes. Yotam’s food inspiration comes from his strong Mediterranean background and his love of ingredients. Not a vegetarian himself, his approach to vegetable dishes is wholly original and innovative, based on strong flavours and stunning, fresh combinations, Gambhir said.
Jerusalem By Yotam Ottlenghi
In Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi explore the vibrant cuisine of their home city—with its diverse Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. Both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year—Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. This stunning cookbook offers 120 recipes from their unique cross-cultural perspective—inventive vegetable dishes to sweet, rich desserts.
Eleven Madison Park By Daniel Humm
Under the leadership of Executive Chef Daniel Humm and General Manager Will Guidara since 2006, the restaurant has soared to new heights and has become one of the premier dining destinations in the world. The book is a tribute to the unforgettable experience of dining in the restaurant.
Gastro Physics: The New Science Of Eating By Charles Spencer
Spence reveals in amusing detail the importance of all the “off the plate” elements of a meal: the weight of cutlery, the color of the plate, the background music, and much more, according to Gambhir. “Whether we’re dining alone or at a dinner party, on a plane or in front of the TV, he reveals how to understand what we’re tasting and influence what others experience.”
Practical Cookery By Victor Ceserani And Ronald Kinton
Vicky Ratnani said this was one of the books that “teaches the basics of cooking”. “ In the 70s and 80s every cook used to swear by this book,” he said. “It is a very comprehensive book and which covers all theories of cooking.”
Larousse Gastronomique By Prosper Montagné
Larousse Gastronomique, by Prosper Montagné is about French cuisine, and contains recipes for French dishes and cooking techniques.
“This the ‘Google of gastronomy’,” Ratnani said. “This book is a comprehensive guide to the origins of cooking, especially French cooking. This is like the Bible of cooking.”
Prashad: Cooking With Indian Masters By Inder Singh Kalra & Pradeep Das Gupta
This book is a celebration of the best in Indian cooking. It is the author’s intention to introduce the foods of India through the culinary genius of some of the finest chefs in the country.
“This is a book every chef should have. It has beautifully illustrated recipes of the finest chefs of India,” Ratnani said.
Noma By Rene Redzepi
René Redzepi has been widely credited with re‐inventing Nordic cuisine. This book offers an exclusive insight into the food, philosophy and creativity of Redzepi.
It reveals the “first behind the scenes look at the restaurant, Noma, and features over 90 recipes as well as excerpts from Redzepi’s diary from the period leading up to the opening of the restaurant and texts on some the most enigmatic of Noma’s suppliers”.
“This is an insight into how simplicity, sustainability, and culture can be the basis of a world class restaurant,” Ratnani said.
No Reservations By Anthony Bourdain
More than just a companion to the hugely popular Travel Channel show, No Reservations is Bourdain’s fully illustrated journal of his far-flung travels. The book traces his trips from New Zealand to New Jersey and everywhere in between, mixing beautiful, never-before-seen photos and mementos with Bourdain’s outrageous commentary on what really happens when you give a bad-boy chef an open ticket to the world.
Flavour Thesaurus By Niki Segnit
This book is on understanding how flavours work together in a dish, Dhingra said. Breaking the vast universe of ingredients down to 99 essential flavors, Segnit suggests classic and less well-known pairings for each, grouping almost 1,000 entries into flavor families like “Green & Grassy”, “Berry & Bush” and “Creamy Fruity”.
BakeWise By Shirley Corriher
With her years of experience from big-pot cooking for 140 teenage boys and her classic French culinary training to her work as a research biochemist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Shirley manages to put two and two together in unique and exciting ways. This book has something for everyone from beginners to experienced chefs, she said.
Sacre Cordon Bleu: What The French Know About Cooking By Michael Booth
Booth shares with us the secrets of his training at Le Cordon Bleu and of French cooking itself, explaining how to make the perfect sauce; the secret of great stocks; how to win a fight with a lobster; and how to avoid maiming yourself while cleaning your knives. He explores how France rose to culinary pre-eminence and asks if Paris still deserves its reputation as the culinary capital of the world, according to Dhingra.
Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine To The World Of Food And The People Who Cook By Anthony Bourdain
Tracking his own strange and unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globe-travelling professional eater and drinker, Bourdain compares and contrasts what he’s seen and what he’s seeing, pausing along the way for a series of confessions, rants, investigations, and interrogations of some of the most controversial figures in food.
Life, On The Line By Grant Achtaz
Life, on the Line tells the story of a culinary trailblazer’s love affair with cooking. It talks of the difficult time of how Achatz coped when he was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma-tongue cancer. It talks about survival, nurturing creativity, and about profound friendship.
Feasts And Fasts: A History Of Food In India By Colleen Taylor Sen
Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food In India is an exploration of Indian cuisine in the context of the country’s religious, moral, social and philosophical development. It addresses topics such as dietary prescriptions and proscriptions, the origins of vegetarianism, culinary borrowings and innovations, the use of spices and the inseparable links between diet, health and medicine.
Curry: A Global History By Colleen Taylor Sen
Curry is one of the most widely used—and misused—terms in the culinary lexicon. Outside of India, the word curry is often used as a catchall to describe any Indian dish or Indian food in general, yet Indians rarely use it to describe their own cuisine.
This book answers the question “What is curry?” by giving a lively historical and descriptive account of a dish that has many incarnations. In this global history, food writer Colleen Taylor Sen describes in detail the Anglo-Indian origins of curry and how this widely used spice has been adapted throughout the world, Brar said.
Food For Thought, Thought For Food By Richard Hamilton, Vicent Todoli
A thought-provoking and visually compelling exploration of artistic expression and gastronomic creativity through the work of the world’s most revolutionary chef, Ferran Adri. With photos of Adri’s creations, Food For Thought compiles discussions, texts, and round tables between artists, chefs, critics, gallerists, and curators, representing the voices of potent personalities of the art and gastronomic worlds.
Sufi Cuisine By Nevin Halici
This book combines culinary history with over 100 sumptuous recipes inspired by the teachings of Sufism.
Like Water For Chocolate By Laura Esquivel
Set in Mexico, this novel talks of recipes and homemade remedies—from screenwriter Esquivel.
Apart from these, Brar also recommended Prashad and On Food And Cooking.