My 20 something son asked me who the "best" chef is for southwestern cooking. By this I think he means truly southwestern and not "Mexican". He is a beginner cook but understands the basic fundamentals. Any ideas on a cookbook? Or any ideas on a cookbook in general that covers southwestern cuisine? Thanks for the help.
My favorite is Huntley Dent's "Feast of Santa Fe." I think it's out of print now but probably available used (try Amazon). I have always had great luck with the recipes from this book. Some of the basic items have multiple recipes which go from most authentic to easiest.
Since this is an older book though it may not appeal to your son as much since Dent hasn't been on the Food Network (as far as I know).
Two Southwestern chefs immediately came to mind when I first read your question:
The first is Stephen Pyles called, "the legendary founder of Southwestern Cuisine." I first heard of him in the '90s when he had a cooking show on a PBS station in Boston. Here's his web site:
There's a page with a list of his cookbooks....
The other chef I thought about is Rick Bayless who has been introducing Americans to Mexican food since the early 90s.
Both of these men are James Beard Award winners, have written multiple cook books, have award winning restaurants and are in the fore front of Mexican cooking today... IMHO.
Alters and Jameson have a couple of excellent southwestern cook books. One devoted just to Texas and another that is more general covering more areas.
Dean Fearing also has a good book or two though they may be a bit too advanced. Cowboy in the Kitchen is great and would not be too difficult.