Perusable Feast: Chefs Choose Their Favorite Cookbooks of the Year

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day—provided he opens the gift box quickly. But give a man a book about how to cook a fish (or a bowl of ramen, or a French pastry), and he’ll armchair-gorge for a lifetime. Below, a quick-hit tour through some of the year’s best cookbook releases, chosen by the local chefs who covet them.


Photograph by Paul Saraceno. Styling by Rowena Day/Ennis.

From top to bottom:

1. Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird

$40, picked by Patrick Campbell (Eastern Standard)

The Gist: Portland chef Gabriel Rucker has made his name blending high- and lowbrow sensibilities. This volume offers a primer on how to do the same at home.

Campbell’s Take: “It’s focused on serving substantial, real food with lots of updated classics…and it’s a little edgy. I can’t help but get hungry when I read it.”

2. Daniel: My French Cuisine

$60, picked by Chris Coombs (Boston Chops, Deuxave)

The Gist: One of the most famous French chefs in the United States, Daniel Boulud takes us behind the curtain of his storied New York restaurant.

Coomb’s Take: “It’s really the first of his books geared toward chefs rather than home cooks—unless, of course, you’re a pretty talented home cook. The book is a visual wonder.”

3. The French Kitchen Cookbook

$35, picked by William Kovel (Catalyst)

The Gist: Acclaimed cookbook author and francophile Patricia Wells’s latest release is centered on classic French fare.

Kovel’s Take: “In my opinion, shiny pictures and recipes from avant-garde chefs don’t translate to the amateur cook as well as classic cookbooks do.”

4. Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

$35, picked by Tzurit Or (Tatte)

The Gist: At long last, the wildly popular 2008 cookbook by chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, who run a cluster of beloved Mediterranean restaurants in London, is available stateside.

Or’s Take: “This book will open everyone’s mind to creating something different with the most simple ingredients.”

5. Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry

$55, picked by Brian mercury (Harvest)

The Gist: Sweets guru Christophe Felder presents a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know to dabble in French baking.

Mercury’s Take: “The book is filled with recipe upon recipe of anything layered with flour and butter.”

6. Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes

$30, picked by Ming Tsai (Blue Dragon, Blue Ginger)

The Gist: A behind-the-scenes peek at how American chef Ivan Orkin became one of the most respected, and successful, Japanese ramen cooks.

Tsai’s Take: “It’s an amazing story—a Jewish guy from Long Island taking on the masters in Japan.”

7. D.O.M.: Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients

$50, picked by Michael Scelfo (Alden & Harlow)

The Gist: Brazilian superchef Alex Atala showcases the tropical locavorism found at his São Paulo eatery, D.O.M.

Scelfo’s Take: “A great cookbook exposes you to the author’s thought process and facilitates creativity. The recipes here present ideas that lend themselves to further exploration.”

8. Manresa: An Edible Reflection

$50, picked by Seizi Imura (Café Sushi)

The Gist: David Kinch, chef at California’s Manresa, one of the nation’s ultimate farm-to-table restaurants, shares his culinary philosophy.

Imura’s Take: “California cuisine has strong roots in Japanese food, and Kinch really takes it to the next level. I love what he’s all about.”