12th Aug 2020

7 classic cookbooks our chefs can’t live without

With so many of you cooking at home these days, we thought you might like to know what cookbooks inspire our chefs on the regular. The ones listed below have defined our generations attitudes towards cooking. Our chefs go back to these books all the time – not just for the recipes – but for the stories, the learning, and the inspiration. We asked Matt, Susi and Alex – Fooditude’s Master Chefs – to pick their favourites and tell us why these books are so darn good.

About the book:

This book broke the image of a traditional cookbook. Part cookbook and part memoir, with unusual photography by Bob Carlos Clarke – this was something completely unheard of in the 90’s. It is cited today as having influenced the careers of several celebrity and Michelin starred chefs. It’s considered to be one of the most influential recipe books written in the last 20 years.

Matt says:

“White Heat was a groundbreaker with amazing photography from Bob Carlos, especially the plate work shown inside. If you look hard enough in the pictures of service, you can see other great chefs like Stephen Terry and Gordon Ramsay learning their trade!”

About the book:

Set out to explore the food of Spain, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, the Clarks introduced traditions and flavours previously unheard of in the UK, through their restaurant Moro and their subsequent cookbook.

Susi says:

“I find this book so refreshing in its approach to a cuisine with such vibrant flavours.”

About the book:

A comprehensive guide to Thai cuisine that reveals more than just recipes. With this book you’ll get an in-depth understanding of ingredients and a guide on availability and substitutions in the UK. Read on and you’ll gain a profound insight in the role of food within Thai culture and customs.

Matt says:

Thai Food by David Thompson is a bible of it’s cuisine – such in-depth information! Not just in the recipes but also in the explanation of the ingredients that are used and why.”

About the book:

Less meat, more vegetables, rich flavours, unconventional cooking style are all phrases one could use to describe this book. With this book, Ottolenghi established himself as a champion of fresh, honest and bold cooking.

Matt says:

“I just love this book for the fresh ideas it brought into my cooking.”

Further reading:

Susi also recommends Nopi (2015) and Jerusalem (2012) – both by Ottolenghi:

“Nopi is a cookbook written in collaboration with Ramael Scully and Ottenlenghi, which includes recipes from their restaurant ‘Nopi’ in London that has a distinctive Asian twist to Ottolenghi’s style. I love this book for the amalgamation of flavours from the Middle East to the Far East.

Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi is about cooking from both the Arab side and Jewish side of Jerusalem – I love how this book introduced me to lots of new ingredients”

About the book:

Modern bistro style food with new techniques for old recipes. It’s so simple and delicious that you’d want to cook them over and over again.

Matt says:

“Arbutus was the restaurant owned by Anthony Demetre. This book shows how to cook with humble ingredients at affordable prices, using classic French techniques . One of my favourite recipes ever is in this book – it’s the crispy pig head terrine. I have made this at home on more than one occasion. It is a labour of love and the effort put in is rewarded with a beautiful dish!”

About the book:

Paul Foster is one of the rising stars of British gastronomy. He has made a remarkable impact with his first restaurant, Salt – winning the Good Food Guide’s New Restaurant of the Year 2018. This book captures his remarkable story, whilst offering 40 thrilling recipes that are visually spectacular, intelligently designed and bursting with flavour.

Matt says:

“Paul Foster is a real chef’s chef and that’s why I like this book so much! He’s had an amazing career so far and this book talks about his experiences working in some of the best restaurants in the world. Plus the recipes are spot on!”

About the book:

This book is as much an encyclopaedia, as a cookbook of Italy. It delves into the history of dishes, as well as how Italy formed into a country. If you love history (particularly the Renaissance era) and food, this is the perfect combo. The recipes cover traditional food from the ages, from a country with a unique history and culture.

Alex says:

“I adore this book for the inspiration, history and just amazing detail on every page. To quote Stefani Bartolommeo, the court chef to the Gonzagas (the ruling family of Mantua in the Renaissance) “cuisine should never be so extravagant to become divorced from the cooking of the people, just cooked using superb local ingredients.” These sentiments fit perfectly with my own ethos and that of Fooditude!”

Do you have any of these books in your library? What are your favourite cookbooks of all time? Tweet to us at @WeAreFooditude and let us know!

Published by Fooditude

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