The one cookbook you can't live without.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
If you all out there are like me, you own way too many cookbooks and continue to buy more all the time. With all the cookbooks I have, I still find myself refering to the same 3-4 90% of the time. The one I use most is probably "Sauces" by James Peterson. He does a great job in one book that could easily fill two or three volumes. I haven't found a better reference cook devoted to one subject. It is also a history lesson in sauce making that I find to be fascinating. As a reference book I challenge you to find a classical sauce that he doesn't cover. Even if I don't use his recipes often it gives me a starting point to create many of my own interptations of many of the great classical sauces. So, what is the one book you couldn't do without?
Joined May 29, 1999
"whats cooking at moodys diner"
from oyster stew to 100 good cookies, a great little book.
"delmonicos cook book"
has every recipe ever written to its date, around 1887.
"battinas best desserts"
great ideas.
"dendoovens restaurant and hotel dessert book"
indespencable for the professional pastry chef at any level.
(cookbooks are like flowers, you can't love just one. or is it potatoe chips, you can't have just one.)

[This message has been edited by m brown (edited November 04, 1999).]
Joined Jul 6, 1999
A long time ago when I opened my first restaurant a friend gave me a book called "Alices Restaurant"
This became my bible. Not particularly for the recipes but for the great attitude this chef had for food.Nothing could get too bad with that book by my side. I lost it and learnt to cope!!
I have read all Alice Waters books and they are a constant source of inspiration but none like that first one.
Elizabeth David is great and The passionfruit tart from "Quaglinos" is to die for, or so my customers reckon.
Joined May 29, 1999
To look at, the Charlie Trotter Dessert
book is wonderful. Nancy's book is great to use, and the Cake Bible is a wonderful easy to follow cake guide.
so many books..........
Joined Oct 28, 1999
I consider the Culinary Handbook (Charles Fellows, 1897) my bible. It is 4000+ recipes strong, with little room for the novice. It is fundamentally a guide versus a true collection of recipes. It was later revisited by Jeff Smith/Craig Wollum in 1991. The author is probably one of the most understated contributors of contemporary cuisine; his philosophy is "I'm in America, I cook American food." He was in Chicago at the turn of the century, in the heart of it all. He was a friend and colleague of Charles Ranhoffer (Delmonico's) and it is in the same class as The Epicurean. I found an original copy after searching every used book store for a 100 mile radius for years; I finally got it from an antiquarian book dealer in Portland, OR.
The things we'll do for books....
Joined May 29, 1999
Jim, I thought I was the only antique freak refurring to books pre 1900's for some of the best ideas!The Epicurean is a book I found at a local shop and have been in awe of it ever since.

As far as having your ideas stolen, I have had interviews with news papers and they gave my quotations to better known chefs. maddening but flattering just the same, when you put something of worth out there it's nice to know it can stand alone without you.
Maybe send a light hearted note to the chef taking credit, and recount the origins of the formula. Focus on the fun of the situation.
Best of Luck to you.
Joined Oct 28, 1999
M Brown... I am a huge fan of the antiquarian cook book genre. I would like to share a quick story, if I may, about my copy of the Epicurean.
I cook in a little town in Delaware. Just after moving here, my wife (the baker) and I (the chef) were at our little pub working and some wary travelers came in for some pie. The pecan pie was hot out of the oven, so we told them it would be a while and we struck up a conversation. We found that they, too, had just moved into town. Well, we became good friends, as they too, were avid gourmets. They always would tell us about their great-uncle's cook book and that they had some proof copies of it. It never really peaked my interest until, one day, I put 2 + 2 together. You see the man's great uncle was Charles Ranhoffer!!! Well, needless to say when I actually said something, they quite frankly gave me a "I told you so" look. Sometime after that, I opened another restaurant in town. Well, as a gift from them for this event, I was given a signed copy of the Epicurean!
I would have to say that this book sits proudly on the shelf with the Charles Fellows books. It is a real show piece.
Well, I thought you wold like to hear the story of my brush with the Epicurean.
Joined May 29, 1999
I think I paid $50 for the monster.
I don't have any stories except that people look at me like I have 3 heads for having such an "old" cookbook.
Joined Aug 18, 1999
I have a huge collection and no one favorite as I tend to go through 'periods'. Petersons books are wonderful for reference but for actual cooking I tend to wander from Charlie Palmer to Susanna Foo with Bobby Flay and Jean-Georges on alternate weeks, etc. I have just bought Michael Ginor's "Foie gras..." which has the most incredible recipes from chefs all over the world. Some of them are crazy but I shall certainly be using the book over Christmas and New Year. Ariane Daguin's "Glorious Game" is another treasure trove which is already becoming a book I cannot live without.
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