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Apr 13, 2007 03:10 PM

Restaurant cookbooks

I enjoy reading cookbooks put out by restaurants/ restaurant chefs. What are some of your favorites?

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  1. I still enjoy the very first one Wolfgang Puck ever put out. (Got it at the old Spago, in fact!).

    1. Tony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook is my alltime favorite single-restaurant cookbook, and one of my favorites period. If you don't mind some salty language, he not only gives good, useful bistro-type recipes, but a lot of very good advice about How To Cook. I'm in complete disagreement with him on a few things, as for instance his undying hatred of garlic presses, but I'll be forever grateful for his clear exposition of the mise en place concept and why it's as important at home as in a restaurant kitchen.

      Escoffier and Louis Diat were both great restaurant chefs in many restaurants, with careers that actually overlapped for a total span of well over 100 years, and both wrote great cookbooks. Escoffier's books are old-fashioned, of the type that assumes you're a trained cook and need only be told what techniques to use; Diat's are specifically pitched toward the home cook who needs to be shown how to bone a chicken. My favorite of his books is one of the old Gourmet hardcover series, the Basic French Cookbook (1961). If you do your cookbook shopping mostly in antique malls and flea markets, as I do, it and the others are easy to find.

      I also have a very handsome four-seasons cookbook from Georges Blanc, which I bought at his restaurant in Vonnas, France, and got him to autograph. Lovely book, a nice man and hugely successful chef, and I have yet to cook anything from it. I'm not even sure exactly where it is...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        I fervently second Les Halles! Fabulous!

        I also rely on the Balthazar and Union Square Cafe cookbooks. Tons of favourite recipes from those books: french onion soup, duck shepherd's pie, short ribs from Balthazar and bar nuts, mashed taters, scallops from USC.

        1. re: Will Owen

          I have to admit a fondness for Tony all his irrevrent glory!! Also, the How To Bake book by, Nick Malgierie(sp?)

          1. re: nyfoodjoe

            Another vote for Bourdain's Les HAlles. I read it cover to cover in one sitting and it makes the food so accessible.

        2. Well, a personal favorite is Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen. I grew up with that book and my mom finally gave me her copy so I would stop bugging her about it! In the same vein, I really like Commander's Kitchen and The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook.

          2 Replies
          1. re: katwright

            Thre: One would be the Frog/Commissary cookbook (now out of print, I think), Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook (might be A. Waters' first), and..this isn't quite a single restaurant book, but Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking is both a great source and reference.

            1. re: Alice Letseat

              Good news! Frog Commissary is not out of print! I stumbled upon it probably on Amazon and ordered it a few months ago for sentimental reasons -- having lived in Phila and eaten at the Commissary and had friends who cooked there. Avant garde and progressive in its day. I(I've yet to cook from it though. . . . please tell me what to make!)
              My preferred online cookbook ordering source is -- better prices than amazon generally and much prompter service.

          2. I have 2 cookbooks from Charlie Trotters and they have some really amazing recipes. One of them contains some more difficult recipes and is more for an experienced cook. However the other one is "Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home" (or something close to that) and contains easier recipes that take less time but are still quite delicious. Have also been to his restaurant in Chicago as well and really enjoyed it. Definitely want to go back whenever I happen to be in that town again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tastytasty

              I agree. I have 2 CT cook books as well that I've cooked from and the results have been really good. I have "Cooks at Home" and "Kitchen Sessions" from the first go 'round of that PBS series. I've found a couple of editing errors in "Cooks at Home" where a key instruction was missing (specifically when to add a key ingredient) and had to wing it. Neither of these books is for a novice cook, but I like them and the recipes I've made have been first rate.

            2. I've enjoyed cooking from "The Union Square Cafe Cookbook." Very appealing dishes, recipes well-organized and -written, and easily executed in a typical home kitchen.