Being a chef isn’t just about throwing together masterpieces in the kitchen. Chances are, if you’ve seen the personal library of a chef, you’ve been blown away by the sheer number of volumes peering back at you. A good chef spends their time deepening their knowledge and understanding of the craft, and books are an invaluable source of information for this. Reading is fundamental for this industry – and it’s good to start making reading new tomes a habit. Below are a few volumes to give budding young chef aspirants some newfound knowledge and inspiration along the way.
The Professional Chef, The Culinary Institute of America
Published by the Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef has been lauded as the modern bible for good reason. Jam-packed with detailed recipes, step-by-step techniques, food hygiene and safety guidance, kitchen operations and more, The Professional Chef is a go to handbook that can teach you everything you need to know for a strong culinary foundation in cooking and kitchen operations. It’s been mentioned as a must-have by industry leaders such as Bourdain and Bocuse and should be sitting proudly on the bookshelf of anyone who has a passion for food.
The Making of a Chef, Michael Ruhlman
If you’re looking for an authentic glimpse into what it’s really like to study culinary arts – look no further. Making of a Chef gives you an honest, humble and unapologetic look into student life at The Culinary Institute of America. From camaraderie with fellow batch mates, disciplinarian instructors and the often Sisyphean tasks carried out in order to master a skill – Ruhlman covers it all in his book which sees him go from a journalist looking for a story to someone finding his way in the world of culinary education and falling in love with the toil of the trade.
Another legend of culinary literature, the Larousse is one, if not the most, comprehensive culinary encyclopedias you can get your hands on. Filled with detailed entries on all imaginable aspects of classical French cuisine, it’s also filled with over 3800 recipes, photographs and detailed techniques. Regarded as one of the most fundamental pieces of literature to have regarding French cuisine, the Larousse can prove to be a worthwhile reference book to anyone choosing to foray into culinary arts.
Kitchen Confidential, Antony Bourdain
The late Antony Bourdain remained his unapologetic self and entranced us with his bad boy ways and foul mouth as he transitioned from the restaurant scene into the culinary limelight. His memoir, Kitchen Confidential, gives readers the full story of Bourdain’s journey with food – beginning with his first gig as a dishwasher to his rising stardom. Brash, blunt and brutally honest, Kitchen Confidential isn’t ashamed to share the darker side of the culinary world with the reader, while still being fueled by an unrelenting passion for food throughout.
White Heat, Marco Pierre White
Coming to the original bad boy of cooking, White Heat is regarded as one of the most influential cookbooks of the last century. White, the first enfant terrible of the culinary world, rose to prominence with his almost otherworldly hold over cuisine, working his way up from a humble hotel in Leeds to three Michelin stars – which he later gave back – at the age of just 33. Known for his temper, tendency to kick out uncooperating diners and unfiltered opinions, White captures the recipes which shaped modern gastronomy in between gritty black and white photographs that were perhaps the first glimpse we got into the sheer magical chaos of a professional kitchen.