Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
Inspiration, information, mouth-watering photography -- our favorite cookbooks are like good friends with tasty secrets to share. We certainly have our favorites, but what about Valley chefs and restaurateurs in the Valley? What cookbook do they reach for first?
James Porter Chef and Owner, Petite Maison
White Heat by chef Marco Pierre White. If you haven't read it, pick it up ASAP. It's all about passion, dedication to the craft, and what it really takes to survive in this business. PS: A great book about cooking is a cookbook to me!
Chef Jose Garces Garces Restaurant Group
Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook. Thomas Keller is a purist and obsessed with getting it right. As refined as his cooking is, his recipes are simple and straightforward. He really wants anyone reading his books to appreciate the food and have the French Laundry experience at home. It's the way every cookbook should be written.
Josh Hebert Chef and Owner, Posh
The Vincent and Mary Price A Treasury of Great Recipes cookbook. It's a collector's item. It has tons of amazing menus and recipes from around the world from some of the most iconic restaurants and famous chefs of the 1930s and 1940s. It's an outstanding book that celebrates excellence in preparation, imagination, and execution.
Justin Beckett Chef and Owner, Beckett's Table
I've been reading a lot of books focused on butchery and charcuterie, but lately, I'm in love with Frank Stitt's Southern Table cookbook.
Rita French Chef de Cuisine, Province
Too many favorites to list just one, but right now I'm reading a book about food combining by Kathryn Marsden. I find cooking to be very rewarding and always learn something new, but I find the science of food-combining absolutely fascinating. To know we can use food as part of preventative health and to heal our bodies is exciting to me.
Andrew Nam, Chef and Co-Owner Stingray Sushi and Jimmy Woo's Sushi and Asian Bistro
I don't really use cookbooks. I draw inspiration from things I see and taste and then translate them to my kitchen. That's the fun of cooking.
Chef Matt Taylor Noca
It's difficult for me to just choose one, so here are my top three: White Heat by Marco Pierre White, Au Pied De Cochon by Martin Picard, and Real Cajun by Donald Link. All completely different but all have influenced me tremendously.
Chef James Molinari Uncle Sal's Italian Restaurant
The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton. I have eaten at her places and think for a baker-trained chef, her food is fantastic, fun, wholesome, and creative.
Chris Osborn Owner, Cadillac Ranch
Lauren Bailey Owner, Windsor/Churn, Postino Central, Postino East
My favorite "cookbook" as of late is a tie between the Lucky Peach magazine series started by David Chang and Mission Street Food by Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz. Both use real photos and talk about the art of making food as a lifestyle and not just a job.
Chef Kurt Jacobsen Hidden Meadow Ranch
Art Culinaire is my favorite cookbook. It's actually a hard-bound periodical released seasonally. They track the hottest chefs in the country with amazing food photography, recipes, and great information about food.
Gary Lasko Proprietor, The Stockyards
Joy of Cooking. My mother gave me a copy when I was about 12. It was my first cookbook and even though I now own dozens, if not hundreds, of cookbooks, I still refer to it when I want to research ingredients, preparation techniques, etc. I find it to be user-friendly, thorough, and comprehensive -- and the recipes are all right on.
Christopher Gross Chef and Owner, Christophers & Crush Lounge
Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. The book and the restaurant are brilliant.
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Chef Steve de Barril Seasons 52
I often read books for inspiration and sometimes I'm more inspired by stories about the chefs themselves than actual recipe books. I love Life on the Line by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. They're the co-founders of Alenia, once considered the best restaurant in the country. It's a great story of overcoming the odds, cancer, and chasing the dream of running a top restaurant.