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Star Chef Cookbooks

OK-I'm considering adding a few "star chef" cookbooks to my collection, e.g. Bouchon is high on my list, so is Flavor by Rocco Dispirito. However, some cookbook reviews complain about non-tested recipes. I have encountered this as well in non-star chef cookbooks.

Would anyone care to recommend favorite "star chef" cookbooks that have proven home-kitchen-tested recipes that work when carefully followed? Also, which cookbooks are notorious for not having tested workable recipes (just curious). I notice Thomas Keller's french Laundry cookbook claims to have homes tested recipes--I rarely see this claim.

I look forward to your recommendations. Thanks.

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  1. Does Keller claim this for the FL cookbook? I can't imagine making some of that stuff at home.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mhoffman

      He does on the Keller website store, which sells FL cookbook for full price.

      1. re: Ora

        You need to remember his home is right behind The French Laundry.

        I've made about 5 things out of the French Laundry cookbook in as many years. Most things take more than a day for me to make at home. But yes, I've made them in my home. With what I spent in time and ingredients I probably should have gone to the Laundry instead!

        I much prefer the Bouchon cookbook. It's less involved for the home cook.

    2. I have a few Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. It's pretty straight forward, she provides some pictures. And she stresses to adjust to your taste, so you can play with the recipes. Most of her recipes on her show on the FN are in her cookbooks. They look easy enough to follow on TV. I'm just a homecook who doesn't neccesarily have a lot a technical talent. It works fine for me.

      7 Replies
      1. re: rumgum

        I have all the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and I love them. I haven't encountered a bad recipe yet and I'm pretty positive they go through numerous testings (especially on her show) before being printed. And the best part is that almost every recipe uses ingredients I already have on hand and the steps are pretty simple but create fantastic results.

        1. re: SarahEats

          I agree. Ina's recipes are very simple and they tend to work.

          Also, Tyler Florence's last cookbook was very easy to follow and the recipes I've tried came out wonderfully.


          1. re: TexasToast

            Is that book based on his new show, Tyler's Ultimate, by any chance? I never liked his shows before, but I caught an episode of TU recently and I'm hooked. Everything he's made on that show looks amazing and I'm running out of printer paper printing the recipes off www.foodnetwork.com.

            1. re: SarahEats

              It's called Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen and it's got the basics in there, as well as a few more adventurous dishes.


              1. re: TexasToast

                I think that's actually his first one. The most recent one is Tyler's Ultimate, and I believe it is based on the show -- at least I recognize some of the recipes. I have this and Real Kitchen. I've made a bunch of stuff from Real Kitchen and while not all of them were spectacular, I'd make them all again. A couple recipes from that book are deceptively simple given the final product. I've never made one of his recipes that caused me to say, "Yikes. There's something wrong with that recipe."

                Still haven't made anything from Tyler's Ultimate, but got the cookbook very recently.

          2. re: SarahEats

            I have all of them too, though I feel the fourth one falls flat. To me at least it's just not as interesting or tasty as the first three.

          3. re: rumgum

            I love Ina's cookbooks but I have to say, some of her recipes are overly rich. They are extremely easy to follow, however. One of my main fears was that I wouldn't be able to find some ingredients at my local grocery store but her books use a little less of the extravagances that she uses on her show.

          4. The Zuni Cafe Cookbook and Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (don't know if that's star enough for you) come immediately to mind. I've never cooked something out of either book that wasn't fantastic. The instructions are well thought out. The recipes sometimes look long, but that's not because they're necessarily impossibly hard for the home cook. Rather, they're detailed so a home cook has plenty of guidelines and doesn't encounter surprises along the way.

            Sunday Suppers at Lucques is gorgeous and fun to cook from, but not as step by step or easy to use. Goin herself admits that writing her own cookbook was tough because she herself never measures. So it's a great book for someone who cooks a lot, but maybe not as diligently tested for the home cook as the others.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pei

              I already own Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Its straightforward and simple. I find Indian vegetarian dishes far more flavorful though.

            2. Pepin's books are really good.

              Rick Bayless' cookbooks rock.

              Marcella Hazen

              1. Depends what you are looking for. The two books you name -- Bouchon by Keller and Flavor by DiSpirito -- are more coffee table books full of large color photos (food porn) and difficult recipes not really adjusted for a moderate level home cook. Books in this vein include other oversize, photo heavy tomes like A Return to Cooking by Ripert, French Laundry also by Keller, Aquavit by Samuelsson, etc. I tend to avoid these types of books, because although they are very pretty to look at, I rarely attempt any of recipes as they are full of obscure ingredients, require multiple time-consuming and difficult steps, and my finished product never turns out the way it looks in the pictures.

                I tend to like books that have been heavily intervened by a collaborative food writer, one who gets that home cooks don't just have 5 quarts of homemade veal stock on hand. Among these I like Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four Star Chef and the simple StaffMeals by Waltuck. I also favor compilations that are done well. My most recent favorite is Chef, Interrupted by Melissa Clark. It's terrific with recipes from many of my favorite chefs, and it's the kind of book where I want to try the majority of recipes.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Pupster

                  Agreed!! Cooking with a 5 star chef is outstanding (the red-wine/carrot reduction with steak is wonderful). Simple to Spectacular is also good.
                  Zuni Cafe: Everyone raves about it. I like the chicken recipe,a s well as the pickles.
                  Charlie Trotter:C ooks at home is actually very approachable and a lot of fun. Try the cardamon beef stew some time. Very nice. His ohter two Jazz-inspitred cookbooks are a little more daunting.
                  Jamie Oliver: Never had anything from hjis books that was less than great.
                  Susanna Foo: Her most recent book is excellent.
                  I also like Staffmeals. Very eclectic and well-thought out.

                  1. re: Pupster

                    Agree on Cooking At Home With A 4-Star Chef by Jean-Georges and Mark Bittman. I've always figured that Bittman's contribution was to make the 4-star recipes doable in a home kitchen. Whatever...anything I've tried has been easily accomplished in my tiny apartment kitchen and wonderful to boot. Recommend.

                    1. re: Pupster

                      I have to disagree about Rocco's book. Its too bad that his career went down in flames because the Flavor book was surprisingly good. Even if you don't use the recipes, there's a lot of good stuff in that book.

                      When I read French Laundry, I knew I was never going to attempt those dishes. But, I was surprised about how approachable Rocco's was for the home cook. You look at it, both the list of ingredients and visual pictures of ingredients, and it totally seems doable. Each recipe also has a neat sidebar about the difficulty and how long it takes to cook, including the active cooking time. And, even the more difficult recipes didn't seem to have anymore ingredients than other recipes from other sources.

                      Maybe, its because I have access to asian supermarkets, but I never thought the ingredients were that obscure. To me, complaining about that would be like getting a Thai book and then complaining about how obscure the ingredients are. It was kind of a given that he would use asian ingredients in those recipes.

                    2. You cannot go wrong with Barefoot Contessa. Her books are wonderful. She focuses the ease of preparing really good food.

                      1. I actually buy celebrity cookbooks because they are difficult to do at home, sort of as advanced learning. I've cooked a few things from the FL cookbook, BTW, but the preparation is more extensive and ingredients get to be expensive for home.

                        I agree that Vongerichten has some very good books for home cooks, maybe because his style is straightforward, my favorite is "Simple Cuisine." I also like Patricia Wells' "Bistro Cooking," though maybe she wouldn't qualify as a star chef. I very much like "World of the East Vegetarian Cooking" by Madhur Jaffrey, all the recipes are great and easy and she is certainly a star.

                        1. Have a look at Dan Silverman's new Lever House Cookbook

                          1. I have both of Mario Batali's--Simple Italian and the Babbo cookbook--and I use them and like them.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rootlesscosmo

                              Mario's first book left me cold, couldn't quite get the hang of any of the recipes. But his latest, Molto Italiano, is quickly becoming one of my staples. I am now spending every weekend slowly going through each recipe and have yet to find anything less than fantastic. I am also getting quite a culinary education at the same time. Highly recommended.

                              1. Zuni, Bayless, Batali - haven't had a dud yet
                                really depends on what kind of food you're looking for . . .

                                1. My absolute favorite is Frank Stitt's Southern Table. His recipes are very workable for the home cook. Like Bouchon (which I do like) it is over sized. I find I need a cookbook holder becuse it is so unweildy. I like Bourdain's Les Halles book, and all of the Bayless books.

                                  1. I like Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. It's all straightforward with the recipes being very easy to put together. Not a lot of excessive prep.

                                    Also we can go back in time to our dear Julia, who always made the recipes somewhat easy to understand. And don't forget the Frugal Gourmet, which remains one of my favorite recipe guys.

                                    Those big food porn cookbooks are pretty fun. All you really have to do is think it through and eliminate steps that you may find unneccessary.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: therealbigtasty

                                      I agree with the recommendations for the Rick Bayless cookbooks, I've had great success with them as well. The written methods are excellent and detailed without being dumbed down.

                                      I may be the only one who has had good luck with them, but I've also remarkably good results cooking from some of the Charlie Trotter cookbooks, particularly "Cooks at Home" and "Kitchen Sessions".

                                      I've been using the recipe for fresh pasta out of Molto Italiano to spectacular results.

                                    2. Emerils work like magic. There will be all these simple ingredients, the dish itself will be absolutely incredible. I am currently obsessed with Real and Rustic. I have ordered New New Orleans Cooking after hearing it was even better.

                                      I second Rick Bayless recs.

                                      1. I second Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook. In addition to the old school french recipes, It's a great read, and he focus on the process of making real food -- browning, pan sauces, depth of flavor, transforming of lowly cuts into the sublime... He loves that stuff.

                                        It comes along with his irreverant narrative, of course, and his unabashed love of food comes through loud and clear. It's not Food-Lite, South Beach, or California cuisine, and it's certainly not vegetarian. There's a reason that his food tastes so good -- butter, shallots, demi glace, and wine! And he loves the pig.

                                        My favorites from inside:
                                        scallops saint-jacques with champagne -- simple, delicious, very nice romantic dinner
                                        veal tenderloin with wild mushrooms -- rich, luxurious...
                                        roasted veal short ribs -- real deep flavor
                                        stuffed pork tenderloins (mignons de porc a l'ail) -- the sauce on this is glorious. i don't know which frenchman decided to stuff pig with bacon and roasted garlic, but it was brilliant!
                                        braised pork shoulder (palette de porc a la biere) -- had this last night, simple recipe, hard to mess up, crowd pleaser with garlic mashed potatoes. another great sauce.

                                        I've given this book as a gift to father in law, drinking/cooking buddy, brother, future brother-in-law... all carnivores and home cooking chowhounds to varying degrees. Definitely worth a look.

                                        1. I'll third Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook. If you have access to the ingredients and read the recipe thoroughly, you shouldn't have any problems. After three previous attempts, I finally managed to keep my bernaise from separating.

                                          Also recommend anthing by Paul Prudhomme, particularly the Louisiana cooking one and Seasoned America. Fork in the Road is also good if you're interesting in lowering your fat intake.

                                          Never had any luck with Trotters books, but I'm not a forensic pathologist, an architect, or a mathematician.

                                          1. Yeah, I've have limited success with Trotter's book. I think his suggestions on sample menus in his Cooks at Home book are helpful - good for ideas, for sure, as he has some interesting combinations of flavors.

                                            NB - on Bourdain: Ora, flip to and read recipe for cote de boeuf on p 134. If this is a cookbook for you, you'll know. If not, there's always the barefoot contessa...

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: birddog

                                              My local library has the Les Halles cookbook--I'll check it out this week to decide if its worth a purchase. I wish the library had Bouchon--I'm obsessed with the pictures and concept of that book for some reason.

                                              1. re: Ora

                                                If you are curious about Bouchon, you should explore Michael Ruhlman's other books (he is the co-writer). It may be his style that you enjoy, as he often collaborates with chefs on big photo-heavy cookbooks. One to check out is Charcuterie, which is his latest (Keller writes the forward).

                                                1. re: Pupster

                                                  Ooooh, Charcuterie is one of my favorites in my collection. If I didn't live in a stupid apartment in stupid Los Angeles I could make some of the stupid recipes...grrr.

                                                  They make me hungry and wish my mom would raise a couple of head of heritage pigs on her and my father's land...

                                                  1. re: therealbigtasty

                                                    LOL! I feel the same way, I was all eager to try it when i got at X-Mas, but was quickly intimidated!! :) I may give it a shot this winter! :)


                                            2. I like Tyler Florence's "Real Kitchen: An Indispensable Guide for Anybody Who Likes to Cook"

                                              None of his recipes tried so far have failed. And, they get a "wow" from guests. While they might be considered more old school than neuvo in style, they are never stale or too commonplace, IMO.

                                              And, then add this recipe to the book. It's from the Food Network reference to his "Tyler's Ultimate" show:

                                              The Ultimate Potato Gratin (potato and cabbage) >> http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                              Great with corned beef (brisket) for St. Patty's.

                                              (and hint with that meal - if you wilt the cabbage for this recipe in the juice from the braised brisket before assembling for baking, it is even more delicious.


                                              I have also enjoyed Wolfgang Pucks "Live, Love, Eat"

                                              And, while not a TV Star Chef, James Patterson has an incredible book entitle "Sauces" that has proved great in the kitchen.

                                              One suggestion: It is difficult to narrow some of the great responses - so maybe go to Amazon for a "look inside" the book suggeseted or try one of the chef's recipes that are available on the Food Network website and see if they work for you.

                                              Best wishes deciding. One of my friends has an entire wall bookshelf full of cookbooks.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: kc girl

                                                Uhh, am I missing something? Ina Garten (of Barefoot Contessa) was never a chef, much less a star chef. Tyler Florence hasn't been in a restaurant kitchen in a long long time (and he wasn't that good when he was!) Has the term 'chef' devolved so much?

                                                Frankly, there is a world of difference between a Thomas Keller recipe and one from the Food Network website. Maybe a galaxy.

                                                1. re: dippedberry

                                                  I agree. They're not working chefs, much less star chefs.

                                                  1. re: cheryl_h

                                                    What do you have against Tyler? He's a cool guy, who can cook:)

                                                    But then he does something like this:





                                                  2. re: dippedberry

                                                    How can Ina not be considered a chef? She ran one of the best known specialty stores and it was a success in large part because of her recipes and work in the kitchen. The food was simply outstanding. Not to mention the work she did on the catering side.

                                                2. I've enjoyed Tom Colliccio's books, but i read cookbooks more than i cook from them.

                                                  1. I have not seen anyone mention Giada de Laurentiis. I love her Everyday Italian book. Some good recipes are her sun-dried tomato and goat cheese angel hair pasta, farmers mac n’cheese, and her vodka sauce. I have not found a bad recipe yet.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: kate.s

                                                      Not a chef, certainly not a star chef. She's a personal cook and caterer, now a 'food personality.'

                                                      1. re: dippedberry

                                                        Well, I consider her a chef, she used to work at Spago. I can't say what she did, she might have been a dish washer for all I know, but I still think her cookbook and recipes are great.

                                                        1. re: kate.s

                                                          She was a line cook (maybe -- I don't know what she did there), not a chef. A chef is someone who runs a professional kitchen. Not her.

                                                          She has a TV show because she is pretty and young and has a famous last name. Don't get crazy that her credentials are so great.

                                                          If you like her books, great for you, but the original request was for cookbooks from star chefs, not just random people we happen to like.

                                                          (I'm making this distinction not to be mean to Giada, Tyler or Ina. It's important to note that the term chef means something in a professional kitchen and that even in the general public, that meaning should be maintained. There are lots of deserved CHEFS who work in obscurity, but are much more talented and skillful and experienced than some with a show on TV. They have earned the title.)

                                                          1. re: dippedberry

                                                            I'll second (or third) that.

                                                            She's a rich kid, who although not neccessarily spoiled has been fortunately enough to benefit from spoils.

                                                            It's a much different story when a real chef, who has probably toiled under many a schmuck for less than minimum wage to come up to the point of writing books.

                                                            However, most celeb chefs are probably very well off to begin with...

                                                            1. re: dippedberry

                                                              Agreed. I'm not impressed with Giada's recipes. I've tried four so far. She's definitely not of the same caliber as Emeril, Mario, Julia, etc. Even Ina Gartner is far better and as far as I know she's a self-taught home cook. I will however continue to watch her program. I can't resist her soft voice, graceful beauty, and great smile!

                                                      2. Well, I like Taste by David Rosengarten.

                                                        No, he's not a chef. The book breaks down every dish in it to a fascinating level. Even has "criteria for quality" (his own preferences) for every dish at the end of the recipe too see how you did.

                                                        Includes some historical set up and personal experiences for most of the dishes and I would say that it combines entertainment and functionality in a great way for a cookbook.

                                                        1. He may only be a local celebrity chef, but the Chef of East Coast Grill in Cambridge, MA, Chris Schlesinger's books are outstanding. My personal favorite is "License to Grill", but I've also worn out both "Lettuce in Your Kitchen" and "How to Cook Meat."


                                                          1. I guess I misinterpreted the thread. Agreed Ina Garten is not a chef, she never claims to be. But if you wanted a cookbook that produces successful recipes at home, then her cookbooks are right on. Hmmm.. didn't read any suggestions from those defining or debating "chef" in their response. Here's my suggestion... start a new thread in the General or Not about food board.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: rumgum

                                                              But the thread title is "Star Chef Cookbooks". Isn't that self-explanatory?

                                                              1. re: rumgum

                                                                Yes, several people misinterpreted the term star chefs, and thereby generated even more non-star chef recs.

                                                                Here's a few from some actual chefs:
                                                                Daniel's Dish: Entertaining at Home with a Four-Star Chef By Daniel Boulud (His Cafe Boulud cookbook is good as well.)
                                                                Refined American Cuisine by Patrick O'Connell
                                                                Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin

                                                                All three are legitimate star chefs, books are oversized with many color photos, proven home recipes though difficult. Similar to the three books she names.

                                                                One I haven't tried yet, but love the photos:
                                                                Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America by Jose Andres

                                                                1. re: dippedberry

                                                                  Hmm..Sunday Suppers is on my list--highly interested in that book. Did you cook from it? Just wondering how difficult are the recipes. Thanks.

                                                                  1. re: Ora

                                                                    I have Sunday Suppers and have tried about 5-6 of the recipes. They work fine. I always tweak the dishes to suit my taste but I think you will be pleased with the results just as they are.

                                                                    1. re: Ora

                                                                      I really like Sunday Suppers. It's organized around seasonal menus, with a mix of simple to moderately difficult recipes. One of the best compliments I can give it is that it makes me want to eat my vegetables (by combining it with plenty of meat and sweets). It's an attractive and inviting book. I have many many pages marked.

                                                                      Let me parrot a poster above about Chef, Interrupted. I just borrowed this cookbook from the library to try it out, and now I ordered my own copy. It's a recipe compilation from well-regarded (vs. just famous) chefs that have been adjusted to the home cook by Melissa Clark. It's really terrific and I have made so many recipes in it in such a short period of time. The Truffled Egg Toast from 'ino's chef Jason Denton is now a regular. I've made Michelle Bernstein's Soft Shelled Crabs with Watermelon Pickles, Chris Douglass's Roasted Pork Chops with Peaches and Basil and Karen DeMasco's Butterscotch Custards. I have Daniel Boulud's Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs marked next. It's a good starter star chef cookbook if you like variety.

                                                                    2. re: dippedberry

                                                                      Just think, the thread polluted by non-star chef recs! or worse, star non-chef recs!

                                                                      Ah, semantics... Your point is well taken though, dippedberry, and I like your use of "food personality" above. That term certainly includes the majority of the food network circle of cooks, whether they have interesting books or not.

                                                                      It should be noted that the original post did place "star chef" in quotes, perhaps looking for a broader interpretation of the title in the search for a few good cookbooks. But I shouldn't speculate on Ora's intent. Sorry, Ora. When it comes down to it, I don't really care who they are if I like their book and it helps me make better food than I would on my own. But you're right, and "Cookbooks by People I've Heard Of" would be a different post.

                                                                      That much said, I will check out Sunday Suppers on your recommendation, and I'll also take a look at Chef, Interrupted. Thanks

                                                                  2. Well, he may not be a "star chef" by American standards (not a Food Network darling by any stretch), but I'd like to nominate Keith Floyd. He was big in the early 90’s with shows called “Floyd on France” and “Floyd on Fish.” I have several of his cookbooks "Floyd's India" and "Flash Floyd" and think they're spot-on with ingredients and relatively easy to work with. He's quite entertaining as well.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: bewley

                                                                      Another great series of books!

                                                                      I've wanted to try the thing from Floyd on Fire where he describes passing out after drinking wine, leaving a glass or two out. Some guinea hen got a hold of the wine and passed out himself, then voila! Time to grill.

                                                                      I want to do that. That, if planned, could be the most humane slaughter technique! Getcher birds loaded!

                                                                      Also check out British personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat Book...

                                                                      Takes two months from Amazon, but well worth it.

                                                                    2. It is not a book from one "star chef" but covers the cuisine of many top european chefs:"Europe's Master Chefs".


                                                                      I like the step by step instruction of each recipe and all the additional comments. It is definitely not for the beginners but I just got it recently and look forward to cook from it.

                                                                      1. How about one of Ferran Adrià's El Bulli cookbooks? They're several hundred dollars each, though.

                                                                        1. I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the Chez Panisse cookbooks. They're "star restaurant" rather than star chef books. Anyway I have several - CP Cooking (Bertolli & Waters), CP Menu (Waters), CP Vegetables (Waters), CP Desserts (Shere & Waters), CP Fruit (Waters), CP Pizza, Pasta & Calzone (Waters). Of these I like CP Cooking, CP Desserts and CP Vegetables the best and use them often, not always for exact recipes but as a starting point for a dish. Ingredients can be hard to find outside of the Bay area. The emphasis is on seasonal fresh foods so you have to be able to make substitutions depending on what's available to you.

                                                                          To me they fall into the category of California cuisine which includes Zuni (Judy Rodgers) and Lucques (Suzanne Goin). No coincidence that both Rodgers and Goin worked at CP before going solo.

                                                                          1. Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating is a great read. Some of the ingredients are difficult to track (tripes, trotters, organs, etc) but many of the techniques are simply saute and braise.


                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. Julia! Julia! Julia! Rick Bayless,David Rosengarten,Alice Waters, Nancy Silverton, Nick Malgieri.

                                                                              1. Guy Savoy's Simple French Recipes for the Home Cook, James Beard's Theory & Practice of Good Cooking, Jaques Pepin's books are all great, Julia's are all great, and I do own one of Ina Gartens (like it) and was given one of Emeril's (okay). Love Rick Bayless as well...have one of his. I like Alton Browns "I'm just here for the food".

                                                                                I also own FL and Bouchon...and I use Bouchon. I loved reading FL.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: melly

                                                                                  I bought the Beard book many years ago, I like it.

                                                                                2. unless you are already a professional chef... i'd stay away from books like the french laundry, eric riperts return to cooking, charlie trotters series, aquavit, and the like. these books are beautiful to admire but i think are not realistic for the average home cook. even the chowish home cook! unless your kitchen is chock full of equiptment and ingredients, and you've had professionals teach you, you just aren't going to get the same result as the glossy photos in these books. but if you insist on owning at least ONE of these books and would like to use them, i suggest "a return to cooking" by eric ripert. i think his reads well and has more dishes that you could try to wing yourself. :-)

                                                                                  that being said, i really do like the zuni cafe cookbook and any book by rick bayless. and i've used the last course by claudia fleming quite a bit for good desserts.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: junglekitte

                                                                                    I own and have cooked from the Aquavit cookbook, and I don't find it too challenging (and I learned to cook from watching old school Food Network and How to Cook Everything). I haven't tackled everything in there, but it's not all impossible.

                                                                                  2. This is just to follow up to let everyone know which cookbooks I purchased last week:
                                                                                    Bouchon, Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Mangoes & Curry Leaves.

                                                                                    A couple "star" chefs, a couple great cooks/food writers.

                                                                                    I want a challenge and elevate my cooking and enhance my technique, but it has to be food I like and will actually eat.

                                                                                    Thanks to all for the suggestions!

                                                                                    1. As I posted a few months ago, when I tried to trade in the French Laundry Cookbook at the world-renowned Moe's Bookstore in Berkeley, Ca, they turned it down, saying that had loads of copies and weren't taking anymore. I think I cooked out of that book once and can't even remember what I cooked. I'd give it a big NO.

                                                                                      I really like Jamie Oliver's books. I also love Back to Square One by Joyce Goldstein (from her now defunct restaurant - lots of international dishes - a great source), and the Campanile Cookbook cookbook by Nancy Silverton and her ex Mark whateverhisnameis.

                                                                                      The Chez Pannisse Cookbook by Waters and Bertolli is another really good book. Examples of recipes are carrot and roasted red pepper soup, roasted beets with tarragon, and delicious stuffed chicken rolls.

                                                                                      Although Nigella Lawson has no restaurant, she certainly is a star chef with great ideas and recipes.

                                                                                      I recently got Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano cookbook. I have only made 4 or 5 things, but they’ve been great. He has a wonderful stuffed meatloaf recipe and his simple basic tomato sauce is quick, easy and delicious (the truc being he adds a shredded carrot). Good desserts, too.

                                                                                      I’ve only cooked a couple of things from the Sunday Suppers at Lucques book, but they’ve been amazing. And of course there’s the Zuni.

                                                                                      1. Emily Luchetti's books are very reliable

                                                                                        1. so hold on i'm confused:

                                                                                          mario, emeril= star chefs ?

                                                                                          ina, giada: stars but not chefs?

                                                                                          alice waters, jaques pepin, deborah madison, rick bayless, judy rodgers, chris schlessinger: chefs but not stars?

                                                                                          james beard, julia child, marcella hazan: apparently neither chefs nor stars?!?!?!

                                                                                          someone please put me out of my misery: what is important here-- "star," "chef," "food channel," "book of home cooking recipes," "things that work well at the restaurant,"? what? go easy on me, i don't have cable.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                            I. for one, don't care what they're called.

                                                                                            I've been learning how to cook out of books and from TV shows for 10 years now and my skills seem to have improved tremendously using information from all of it and from a great deal of trial and error. Over time I've put together a considerable library, notes and personal techniques from all sources and have a personal list of culinary 'heroes'. For instance I love Mario, Lydia, Rick Bayless, Deborah Madison and Jacques Pepin, but am not at all crazy about Giada, Ina, Emeril, Bobby Flay and definitely not Alton Brown. I find those of the latter interesting in that they each have something to offer me but don't think what I see from them holds a candle to what I routinely get from any of the former.

                                                                                            1. re: kevine

                                                                                              i pretty much agree with all of your "liked" and "disliked" chefs. i would add marcella and julia, judy rodgers, barbara kafka, patricia wells and ken hom to the "liked" and RR to the "disliked." imo a couple of books by Pepin can teach a cook more about cooking than entire shelves of the stuff on the market at the bookshop. i think we agree that as long as the food is good and the recipe works, it doesn't matter if the chef is a tv personality, restauranteur, or good home cook, the food is the main issue.

                                                                                              the point of my post is that the "star chef" trend really tends to relegate our common culinary heroes to the bottom bookshelf, the one without the glossy photo pix. the best chefs are frequently not "star chefs," although some "star chefs" are better than others.
                                                                                              i personally don't like the "star chefs" fad. i think it contributes to the trend of fast, cheap and flashy food preparations without a lot of critical thought or culinary technique behind them.

                                                                                              that said there are some good books by "star chefs," and, some really very silly books on my cookbook wall too. i just don't expect to learn as much from certain books. one way i keep myself from getting bummed out that there is less good content than pretty pix in a cooking tome i've picked up is that i invest in the books i know i will use (authors already listed). the star chef books i pick up for less than half price at my favorite independant used bookshop. they come in pretty quickly, i've found, while books by bayless, madison, pepin, hazan, etc. are much harder to find used, probably because people tend to hold on to useful things.

                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                Thanks for adding Ken Hom, Julia and Patricia Wells. I have well-used books from each. In fact I use the book that Julia and Jacques wrote together (forget the name of it offhand) almost as a 'bible'. Whenever I'm unsure about direction in a recipe I haven't tried before, there is usually something in there that will clear things up for me regarding a technique or a reasonable amount for an ingredient within a given type of recipe.
                                                                                                I'm still getting up to speed on Marcella as I've only tried a couple of her recipes so far from 'Essential'.
                                                                                                Not really familiar with Judy Rodgers, will have to look into her work.

                                                                                          2. Lidia's family cookbook is awesome

                                                                                            1. I like Jaimie Oliver too.

                                                                                              Star Chef in Seattle, love Tom Douglas books - his latest "I love Crab Cakes" is really nice. Not just about crab cakes either - nice creative twist on crab dishes too.

                                                                                              I just received two of Paula Deane's (but haven't made anything yet) - looking forward to it - love her southern cooking recipes

                                                                                              1. I bought Tetsuya's cookbook "Tetsuya: Recipes from Australia's Most Acclaimed Chef " a few years back and was impressed. The photography was on par with the some of the Charlie Trotter books and for the most part recipes were accessible (with some ingredient exceptions).
                                                                                                I'd second the Battali 327 Simple recipes suggestion above. got it a couple months back and have already put it to good use.