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If I could only keep the cookbooks of one author/chef/cook that author would be:

Hello friends,

mr bc asked me this question tonight. He told me I had 20 seconds to answer. My answer was:

Donna Hay

OMG, I'd miss all my Italian books that are the most predominant category in my collection but DH has a bit of everything. As an Aussie, her recipes have an Asian influence that I so love.

What about you? Whose books would you keep?

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  1. My "20 second" response was David Tanis.

    Thinking about it for a little longer, I might instead say Yotam Ottolenghi.

    1 Reply
    1. re: drongo

      Totally agree with you about Ottolenghi drongo...good point!

      1. James Beard.No foreign influences other than perhaps European, but lots of good, well-described recipes; and in some books good technical instruction.

        Or maybe Pepin (+/- Claiboune, whose NYT cookbook is great)

        Yes Pepin, for all the reasons I cited for Beard, but he's better.

        1. Ina Garten. I really learned how to cook by watching her show and her books were some of the first I owned. Whenever I need a great recipe, especially for parties or company, I usually end up with one of hers.

          2 Replies
          1. re: juliejulez

            Oh, Ina. I love Ina as well julie..good one!

            1. re: juliejulez

              I have to vote for Ina Garten too.

              She's not my favorite cook and I have scores of wonderful cookbooks by other cooks I prefer, but if I had to pick only one author and her cookbooks, it would have to be she. Not only do her cookbooks offer an excellent range of dishes that I could eat every day, the recipes are so perfectly tested and the results are excellent and there's enough variations to keep me satisfied and interested. In short, I could only cook from Ina Garten and never get bored of either the food or recipes.

              1. re: Madrid

                Another vote for Wolfert.

                But it's not like there aren't others that rush to mind: Pepin, Hazan...

                1. In 20 seconds?

                  With no hesitation...Diana Kennedy :-)

                  1. You mean, like picking your favorite child? Can't do this..... maybe I could come up with a list of 20 books I would keep if that is all I could have, but down to one author? I just can't do it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: smtucker

                      I know right? Just reading this thread makes me realize how many treasures we have on our shelves.

                      1. Irma Rombauer - all the editions of Joy of Cooking have enough recipes (ranging from great, good and not-so-good) for a lifetime of cooking.

                        1. Nigel Slater.

                          If two authors, then also Delia Smith.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Harters

                            I second Nigel. Great mix of recipes. All makeable. Also might be the best writer going in the cooking world.

                            Maybe Michael Romano.

                            1. re: Westy

                              Nigel Slater for me too, especially since I get to keep All his books. I don't think I need a second choice. All the food I like to eat is right here in my head.

                          2. fourunder- If he'd finally write a book.

                              1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                                I have been thinking about getting that, why do you love it?
                                Just bought Volume 2 of Mastering can't wait!

                                1. re: snowelephant

                                  Every dish I've made from it (and I've made a bunch) has been delicious. Just wonderful. The sage and sausage stuffing I am required to make every Xmas and thanksgiving since the book came out and I made it that first time. Family comes in looking for it on those days. It's one of the easier recipes in there too.

                              2. David Thompson. No contest here for me.

                                  1. Ruhlman's "Ratio", since following its proportions allows the reader to create an endless number of dishes/recipes.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      ALL of Ruhlman's books: the "... of a Chef" series for inspriation & entertainment, the skills trio (Ratio, Elements, 20) as a comprehensive set of basic skills & techniques, and the charcuterie books in case I ever get the time to take that leap.

                                      Oh, and can I stay current with his blog, too?

                                    2. The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer. I have several editions and prefer the older ones that Mrs R did herself---check yard sales. Mrs R provides basic instructions for almost everything and all along the way reassures the cook with her side comments. I always remember what she said about Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast: "Let's make something good out of this"---good general advice for life.

                                      1. My William Sonoma cookbooks they are all so good! I have about 7 or 8 of them and I love them all!

                                        1. The Joy of Cooking, just out of sentiment and gratitude. Like all of you I learned cooking from many people and not just from books, but that is the book I learned the most from when I really needed a book to show me something. I rarely have reason to consult it anymore, but when I do, how much I enjoy reading it.

                                          1. My instinctive response was Ottolenghi but thinking further, I thought that could become repetitive. So Nigel Slater it is - for great recipes that always work but also for the sheer breadth of his repertoire. I really could not get bored cooking from his 12 books I own.

                                            1. My quick top three are Diana Kennedy, Ottalenghi, and Jeff Smith, with Molly Katzen a close runner-up. If I had to pick just one, it would be Smith: he's my go-to for basic American cooking, and covers - albeit briefly - a lot of other cuisines. And he's stood the test of time.

                                              (Does Fanny Farmer count as a person?)

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: tardigrade

                                                "(Does Fanny Farmer count as a person?)"
                                                I was just wondering whether or not Canadian Living counts as a single author...

                                                1. re: tardigrade

                                                  Interesting choices. Jeff likely introduced a generation to cooking. Katzen's Sundays at moosewood is great. The other Moosewood books seem less great.

                                                  1. re: Westy

                                                    Sundays at Moosewood isn't a Mollie Katzen book. It's a collective effort by the staff of the restaurant, years after MK was no longer part of the enterprise.

                                                  1. re: sharebear

                                                    Not sure how long I could live cooking only from the French Laundry Cookbook. Great stuff but most of it is both time- and butter-heavy.

                                                  2. Bourdain's Les Halles book is great. Not the one and only forever...but great.

                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                        Nice call. CI gets slammed all the time here, but...his Yellow Farmhouse is a GREAT book.

                                                      2. Maybe not the most elegant, but one of the most informative cookbooks I have:

                                                        Alton Brown

                                                        I like having a reason behind the things that I'm doing when I cook. Also "I'm just here for the food" has meat magnets in it!

                                                        Tip: I used his shrimp scampi recipe to make Shrimp Scampi pizza. It's fantastic.

                                                        1. Marcella Hazan: the most rewarding pleasure-to-effort ratio on my overcrowded cookbook shelf. I'm enjoying Ottolenghi but will wait to see whether I'm still turning to those recipes in a year or two.

                                                          1. James Peterson - covers a lot of different topics in depth. Very good written books.

                                                            1. As an Australian ... Stephanie Alexander. Her Cook's Companion is SO good that you hardly need another cookbook.

                                                              And for an 'international' it would have to be Rick Stein.

                                                              1. Joy of Cooking----no photos, but it's so complete.

                                                                  1. Well, if its a single "author" per se I'd say Alton Brown or Mark Bittman (because he basically covers everything).

                                                                    If its one company, it would be America's Test Kitchen.

                                                                    1. Definitely Claudia Roden. Her book of Jewish food is my "joy of cooking"

                                                                      1. Dunlop. You might be able to find the recipes online or something, but those ingredient glossaries in her books are so very helpful and you have to have the book for that.


                                                                        1. If I only can have one author I would choose Anne Willan. I only have two of her 30+ published books - La Varenne Pratique and From My Chateau Kitchen - and even these two will give me lots of interesting dishes to make, techniques to learn and stories to read.