As a child, I loved to cook and it was a lot of fun. It started out cooking pizza using dough in a circular tube and rubbing cheap pizza sauce and cheese. 35 years later, I am now cooking sous-vide and playing with molecular gastronomy.
Being self-taught requires inspiration, hard work, and a desire to accept failure and try again. Cookbooks are a great source of inspiration for home cooks but don’t be discouraged if a recipe from book doesn’t turn out the first time. A failed recipe attempt is still cheaper than culinary school.
Here are some of my recent additions and favorites:
Momofuku – David Chang David’s book is approachable and with familiar foods. His techniques will allow you to learn how to make every day ramen into a culinary delight. I love this book because I am 1/2 Asian I would eat everything in his book and learning these techniques have already helped me at home.
Alinea – Grant Achatz Grant’s book is a masterpiece of visual imagery, use of science to create food and art, and masterful cooking. Some of the recipes are extremely friendly and while others are more advanced, you can still draw inspiration from this book and from this style of cooking.
On The Line – Eric Ripert Eric’s book is the one book that transformed my cooking immediately. His approach to using fresh ingredients and highlighting them with complex flavors is much harder than it looks. His book is extremely usable by almost any level of cook and is not intimidating to read or learn from. I will buy a second copy to keep in my library since I have used the first copy so often.
Poly-Science Sous Vide Cookbook – Thomas Keller When I bought my PolyScience immersion circulator the best bonus was the cookbook from Thomas Keller. Well written and it gives you a solid foundation on the food, but also the food safety of cooking in this method.
Ideas In Food – Aki Kamozawa & H. Alexander Talbot Aki and Alexander put their heart and soul into this book. This book is so helpful and insightful they must have done a ton of work. The quality of work shows, and if you buy this book you will have a better understanding of how common every day foods are cooked, and with a level of refinement. The bread and the egg sections, to name a couple, have so much information that you can use immediately. Within days of receiving this book I have made at least 5 recipes and they all work.
You must inspire yourself to gather information and implement into your cooking, but these cookbooks will add to your creativity and knowledge. There are many more beautiful and worthy cookbooks, but these are my favorite.