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Dec 7, 2010 10:05 PM

Keller or Bourdain Cookbook, Which One???

I'm trying to decide between two cookbooks:

(a) Thomas Keller's "Bouchon"; OR
(b) Anthony Bourdain's "Brasserie Les Halles"

Anyone have both and a preference? Why? FYI, I find Tony's 'tude funny, but not a reason to buy a book.

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  1. C'mon, SOMEBODY has to have both of these!

    8 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Hi there, Don't decide. Take both :). They are so different and uniquely lovely :). Don't deprive yourself :).
      Happy reading, Oana

      1. re: oana

        Oh, you're a lot of help! :P

        I should explain: This is a gift exchange and I get to pick ONE book (I may buy the other eventually). If I don't pick soon, I'll probably be gifted something like "The Ultimate Lutefisk Cookbook". HELP!

        1. re: kaleokahu

          I don't know about the Bourdain book but Bouchon is a nice book--but I'd only get it for someone who loves to cook and wants to spend time prepping, etc. It's less about technique than great recipes. I know you were comparing those two but if I were to give a Keller book, it would be Ad Hoc at Home. It's a good technique book w/ recipes that are a cut above what you'd find in other cookbooks. Ad Hoc is something I use more on a regular basis. Bouchon, for those rare special occasion meals.

          1. re: chowser

            Ditto on the Bouchon book - way too complicated for most applications. Kind of a destination cookbook.

            1. re: chowser

              I have the Bourdain book (autographed no less!) and the recipes are kind of blah.

              1. re: kaleokahu

                And those are the two choices? Grrr. If it is a coffee table book go for Keller. I will not say anything mean about Keller. I will not say anything mean about Keller. I will not say anything mean about Keller.

          2. I have the Les Halles book. I do not have the Bouchon book, but i do have other Keller books. I'd bet Keller and Bourdain are going for two very different things.

            Right off the bat, the Les Halles book will almost certainly be funnier than anything written by Keller and comrades. The Les Halles book is mostly recipes for French Bistro classics, presented in a fairly traditional way. They are recipes that you could find elsewhere - Bourdain and co. just presents them well, makes them seem easy enough to pull off and charming to read about. It's a fun read, approachable, and good if you're not already familiar with bistro level French cooking.

            I'd bet that Bouchon, like all of Keller's books i've seen, is Keller-ized. Basically, that he takes bistro classics and changes the recipes in ways that really preserve the integrity of individual ingredients, as well as the look and texture of the dish. His books tend to be good for their thought processes about cooking, but you have to be able to read between the lines - a lot of times, he makes an interesting choice or departure in his recipes without explaining why he chose to do it. If you aren't interested in his thought process, his books only really serve to present a bunch of delicious, pristine, but very laborious recipes. To get the most out of it, it would help to already be very familiar with classic French bistro cooking.

            2 Replies
              1. re: cowboyardee

                Very well stated and a fair assessment of both. Now I have nothing to say and even less to add.;)

              2. I don't have Bouchon, but I do have Ad Hoc and The French Laundry. Also, I have Bourdain. I have had the French Laundry for years and have made 1 recipe from it, and I've had Ad Hoc for months - I keep looking at it for inspiration, but the recipes are too involved for me to use often. Les Halles is nice, classic Bistro fare. Nothing radical, very classic. I've used it a few times and had good results. It's also physically smaller and more pratical - the Keller books take up 1/2 my counter space (and I'm including the kitchen table).

                1. Who is it for. Not just like "mom" but what kind of cook/person and all that sorta stuff.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    Sal: Not sure what you're asking... The book's for me. The food's for me and mine. I'm not afraid of elaborate recipes, but they need to get me somewhere that short and simple don't. And I'd be getting the book for the recipes and technique, not the banter.

                  2. Sounds like you don't have much time to choose but I always try and get cookbooks out from the library first before buying so I can look through them.

                    I've taken both Bouchon and French Laundry out from the library and decided not to buy. I do have ad hoc though. Haven't looked at Bourdain's.

                    1 Reply