You can’t have just one. The slogan applies just as readily to chips as it does to handbags and, as any foodie knows, great cookbooks. Perhaps you started out with Joy of Cooking or Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and found yourself — pardon the pun — hungry for more. But where should you start? Before you plunk down the cash on any ol’ culinary tome, get your hands on The Chef’s Library (Abrams), a compendium on the most influential cookbooks ever. You’ll get the classics and true-and-true favorites as well as the cookbooks that the world’s best chefs name among their most prized possessions. And there are 72 culinary stars featured here, from Suzanne Goin to Wylie Dufresne, making The Chef’s Library a fascinating resource. There’s quite a range, too. Spain’s Josep Roca, for instance, picked the centuries-old Com Usar Bé de Beure e Menjar (How to Eat and Drink Well), by Francesc Eiximenis, which dates back to 1383. Both London’s Jason Atherton and Houston’s Chris Shepherd picked The French Laundry Cookbook by the renowned Thomas Keller, who, in turn, picked Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point. Blue Hill’s Dan Barber picked Margaret Visser’s Much Depends on Dinner, not so much a cookbook as a history of food — “each ingredient emerges with its own enthralling history,” writes Barber — while Irishman Richard Corrigan goes for a cookbook by rock musician-turned-chef Graham Garrett; it’s appropriately titled Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls. The Chef’s Library also offers detailed directories — organizing books by geographic cuisine, for instance — making this both a handy guide and a steady catalyst for kitchen inspiration.
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