Chow Bella

Five of the Most Expensive Cookbooks You'll Probably Never Own

If you like cooking as much as we think we do, you probably have at least a few referential or inspirational cookbooks tucked away in your personal library. You might prop them up against a solid mixing bowl and flip through their pages with buttery, sticky, garlic-y fingers and reckless disregard.

While we're certainly fans of the classics like Joy of Cooking and Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, sometimes the same-ol'-same just doesn't cut it. So if you've got money to blow and a serious craving for gastronomic literature, check out these titles for a literary-culinary adventure like you've never seen before.

5. L'art de Guy Martin

This 636-page, food porn bible contains recipes from manager and chef de cuisine of Le Grand Véfour, Guy Martin. With just 63 recipes and more than 350 photos, the book lends itself to the coffee table more than the kitchen shelf, but does include recipes Martin wrote specifically for the book and those inspired by his Savoyard roots. Damask tablecloths from Le Grand Véfour, one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, serve as the book's cover; as a nod to the distinctly Japanese influence of the book's publisher, graphic designer, and photographer, Yoshihiro Saito, you'll also get one pair of silver Christofle chopsticks.

This book is clearly meant to be treated as a piece of art - and with a price tag around $500 we won't think you're crazy if you frame it and hang it on a wall.

Check out a video interview with Olivier Desobeaux of publisher SuperEdition here.

4. First editions of A Guide To Modern Cookery or Joy of Cooking

Any book collector can tell you about what it means to own a first edition. Be it Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird or Escoffier's The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery, "firsts" mean one thing for sure: cha-ching.

A first edition of Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker's Joy of Cooking, printed in 1931, will run you about $500. Although there have been scores of reprints in the decades since, getting your hands on one of the few thousand original prints is a challenge for only the most worthy book and food aficionado. And if you think that price is steep, don't even think about going for the first edition inscribed by Escoffier. Originally printed in 1907, it's available for purchase here for just under $1,000, including shipping.

3. Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking

For the intellectually inclined, this six-volume food-cyclopeida represents the magical place where food, science and technology meet. It's a hungry mad scientist's very artistic dream come true with extravagant illustrations meant to offer readers "science-inspired techniques for preparing food."

Author and former chief technology officer at Microsoft, Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, worked with chefs Chris Young and Maxime Billet and a 20-person team for several years to finish the mammoth project. The collection of photos, diagrams and scientific explanations of each step of the cooking process, Modernist Cuisine surely places food preparation in a different light. Notable images include a cross section of a Weber grill and a microscopic view of meat fibers.

2. Dom Perignon Vintage 1998, The Collection

Yes, you read that right. There's an entire cookbook full of recipes that use the 1998 vintage Dom Perignon champagne. Why you'd ever want to waste use a bottle of rare champagne in preparing food, we'll never know. But as you can imagine, the recipes aren't exactly the kind you'd whip up for a family dinner. The 35 recipes were written by a collection of Britain's top chefs and are accompanied by "minimalist" photography and woodcut-style illustrations of the chefs.

This book is available in two editions. The standard hardcover, probably meant for people who have no intention of actually trying any of the recipes, is priced rather reasonably at just about $60. The second edition however, comes bound in dark green ray-skin and will set you back about $1,500.

1. Les Diners de Gala (The Salvador Dali cookbook)

According to a rumor that may have been started by Dali himself, only 400 copies of this book were printed in the early Seventies. This extremely rare cookbook features 136 recipes and illustrations done by the artist himself. Inside it reads: "Salvador Domenech Philippe Hyacinthe Dali conceived and materialized this work dedicated to Gala." FYI, "Gala" does not refer to a festive party but rather to Dali's wife, Gala Dali, who is featured on the book's cover. Unlike a typical cookbook, Les Diners de Gala tries less to teach the reader how to cooking, and more to take the reader on a gastronomic adventure--with Dali acting as personal guide.

Copies can go for anywhere from $150 to upwards of $2,000 depending on the condition.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria