What We Have Read

All books here are books that we have personally read. They range from cookbooks, to books about cooking, or books on food, or food cultures, or anything remotely food related. The links to the books are affiliate links to Amazon that allow us to keep reading and learning in hopes of bringing that back to you–and for that reason, we have been very honest about our reviews.

On Food and Cooking was one of my first cooking related books and for me is a classic. Harold McGee is often considered one of the pioneers of the kitchen and food science movement, and thus, the field of molecular gastronomy.

 

This book breaks down, in detail, the science behind almost every ingredient possible: from meats to cheeses to vegetables. The only problem is that it is a difficult book to just sit down and read–it took me quite sometime to get all the way through it. But it is a book that I constantly find myself going back to for reverence, looking things up, or to seek inspiration.

Our rating: it is like Kobe Beef – full of deliciousness, reliable, and something you will not only often fall back to, but can continue to explore and learn new from things every time. (A+)

Modernist Cuisine has been one of the my most influential books. It is a long read and expensive, but the amount of information, experimentation, content, instructions, and pictures that have been put into these volumes will not only inspired you, but will be resource that you come back to for the rest of your career.

A specific example is when they choose to focus on meats, not only do they provide the scientific reasoning behind meat and cooking, along with almost every type of technique and preparation possible, but then they also include cookings timings and recommended final outcome for meats broken down by tender cuts, tough cuts, etc.

Yes, there are a lot of advance preparations that might not be applicable for the home chef, and for that reason they do have an at home version. I have read both and recommend the original.
Our rating: it is like a good chef’s knife, essential. (A+)

Mastering the Art of French Cooking was my first cookbook. I was so excited to read it I remember running through the chapters bookmarking instructions, techniques, and recipes with different colored post-its.

French cuisine is really a cuisine of technique, and this book is a must for anyone that has an interest in this field. The only problem would be that this book is starting to get dated as new techniques and technology is being embraced in the kitchen, but if you want to learn the fundamentals, arguably not just of French cuisine, but of different cuisines of the world, this is the book for you.

Our rating: it is like a properly made French Baguette–crisps and crackles with delight and is just the beginning of what you can do. (A)

 

The End of Food is a book about the global food economy and supply chain that is fascinating and scary to read. Highlighting many problems, some new and others apparent, this book is very important for someone entering or part of this industry. It is important to understand the full context of your industry and this book sets a stage, albeit a bit depressing considering the likely collapse we soon to see.

Our rating: it is like a mandoline, scary but essential (A)

The French Laundry is part of the current fad of chef’s releasing restaurant based cookbooks. While the majority of these books turn out to be nothing more than a completion of recipes, The French Laundry is a truly inspiring read into one of the most brilliant kitchen minds of our generation. Thomas Keller creates magic and this book offers a glimpse of it.

Our rating: it is like a Harry Potter Chocolate Frog, potentially as close to the magic as you will ever get, which is a bit depressing (A)

 

Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi, a famous London duo, is a book that explores the cuisine of this complicated and diverse city, along with their own culinary influences and inspirations. This is a compilation of recipes, but from the introduction and the pages throughout, there are tidbits of history, stories, and insights that add to the experience allowing this book to be more than just a pretty thing.

Our rating: it is like spices, something that has culinary use, but a lot of culture and history as well (A)

The Drunken Botanist is ultimately a book aimed at a bartenders, but learning about different plants, herbs, and other ingredients was still fascinating and relatable to me as a chef. With interesting insights and stories, this was a really fun read!

Our rating: it’s like a microplane zester, something you didn’t think you needed, but then it turns out to be both useful and lots of fun (A)

Kitchen Confidential is a classic look behind the scenes of the food industry from a man I wish I was, Anthony Bourdain. Touted as a much read for aspiring chefs, this book is packed of insider information and experiences of one of the most influential people within the industry. The book had been around for quite some time now, so while some of the insights will shock or reveal, others might seem like stale tidbits.

Our rating: it is like broccoli, you gotta eat it although you might not like it (A-)

The Whole Beast is a book that focuses on utilizing all the different cuts of an animal from the well known cuts to offal–one of my favorite cut to use. I found the book to have same very inspiring preparations and a bit of a British spin on preparations. This book is however first and foremost a recipe book, which make it hard to truly learn from.

Our rating: it is like eating a salad for lunch–a great idea, but sometimes just not enough. (A-)

The Whole Beast Butchery is not a book for everyone, but an interesting resource to learn a lot about different cuts of meat even if butchery isn’t something you are interested in. If butchery is an interest of yours, this book will give step by step instructions on how to go about dissecting different cuts of meat from a range of animals. The only problem is that learning to butcher isn’t the best skill to learn from a book and at times it might be difficult to follow along.

Our rating: it is like a pancake maker, nice to have but might not be used too often (B+)

The Flavor Bible is a book that focuses on helping a chef match different tastes and flavors across many different types of ingredients. While I found the introduction helpful, it isn’t a book to read or learn from, more refer back to once in a while to find some interesting flavor combinations. Another shortcoming would be the focus on American ingredients and an amateur oriented kitchen which has it’s restrictions.

Our rating: it is like a potato, full of substance, but not much just on it’s own. (B)

Salt is a history book that walks a reader through a unique perspective of events, moments, politics, and more either directly or indirectly related to salt. Unfortunately, while the central theme is of salt, the stories together are disjointed leaving the reader with a hard time remembering everything that they have just learned.

Our rating: it is like a large pizza, an exciting start, but sluggish towards the end leaving you wishing you got something else. (B)

Three Star Chef is another chef’s cookbook released by Gordon Ramsay, arguable the biggest celebrity chef of our time. But, falling short to teach, this book is serves it’s purpose as a good coffee table book or food porn to flip through.

Our rating: it is like a free sample at the mall, leaves you longing for more (B-)

The 4-Hour Chef is part of Tim Ferris’s books on lifestyle redesign, the problem with this book, along with his others is that while the ideas sound amazing, most aren’t always applicable outside of where Tim puts them. In an over-simplification, must is lost and almost feels like a scam.

Our rating: like a poorly made creme brulee, it might look nice, but isn’t. (B-)