August 30, 2016
Posted in: Culinary Arts

There's no better way to get in the mind of a chef than with a book written by one.
If you’re a culinary student, you may want to spend as much time as possible in the kitchen, working on your craft. And while perfecting your spicing or getting your grilling technique down pat are essential to becoming a great chef, your learning should go beyond your pots and pans. Reading is a great way to expose yourselves to the ideas and techniques of culinary gurus and see how you can adapt your own approach. Here are five books you might want to consider checking out from the library:

“Reading is a great way to continue your growth as a chef.”

1. “The Flavor Bible” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
If the title isn’t clear enough, this is the definitive book for understanding how to cook with true flavor. The bulk of the book discusses classic ingredients, perfect for finding complementary pairings. The flavors also span the globe, from Germany to West Africa and beyond. Dornenburg and Page present in-depth detail, including each flavor’s origin and composition. You’ll no doubt use this resource any time you need a bit of inspiration.

2. “On Food and Cooking” by Harold McGee
Since the early 1980s, Harold McGee has been one of America’s premiere writers on food chemistry, cooking and culinary history. In this now-famous book from 1984, McGee offers scientific insight into cooking, including how ingredients interact and the importance of accurate temperature. If you really want to understand cooking as a science, without being overwhelmed by technical jargon, this is the most accessible guide you’ll find.

3. “The Tummy Trilogy” by Calvin Trillin
Much like McGee, Calvin Trillin is one of the most beloved American food writers. This collection combines his three biggest books released in the last 40-plus years: “American Fried,” “Alice, Let’s Eat” and “Third Helpings.” Across every chapter, Trillin exudes a passion for simple meals like cheeseburgers and Buffalo wings. More succinct than other writers, Trillin demonstrates a kind of joy that should exist in diners and chefs alike for simple, life-affirming flavors.

Reading is a great way to continue your growth as a chef.

Reading is a great way to continue your growth as a chef.

4. “The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef” by Marco Pierre White
As the youngest chef to ever win three Michelin stars, Marco Pierre White knows what it takes to become a truly inspired culinarian. In this memoir, he touches on his many ups and downs, like when he returned his three stars. He also shares hilarious stories with famed chefs like Mario Batali and Gordon Ramsay. This is the tome for anyone who wants to understand the work and devotion that goes into being a chef.

5. “Great Chefs of France” by Anthony Blake and Quentin Crewe
In this book from 1978, the duo of Blake and Crewe accomplished something truly important: They were able to gather together ideas from all of France’s three-Michelin-star chefs. Over the span of this mostly light read, each chef is followed around over the course of a day, providing keen insight into how they cook and their thoughts on food. It’s a great chance to learn at the feet at some of the most thoughtful and influential chefs in modern history.