Chefs’ Favorite Cookbooks to Add to Your Collection

When you’re a foodie, getting a glimpse at a chef’s cookbook collection is like a private viewing in the studio of a master artist. Eager for the inside dish, we asked five Scouted chefs to share the reference books they reach for time and again for inspiration, to learn new techniques, and to hone their craft. Tie on your apron, adjust your toque, and crack open one of these epicure-approved cookbooks to channel your inner Wolfgang Puck.

Justin Devillier, chef and owner of Justine and La Petite Grocery in New Orleans, Louisiana, and author of The New Orleans Kitchen

Chef Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen by Paul Prudhomme. “This is a must-have for classic Louisiana cooking. Very technique driven and authentic.”

Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli. “A masterpiece of hands-on, whole hog butchery, salumi, and pasta making. This cookbook is full of simplistic Italian flavors.”

Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham. “Living in New Orleans, I have fallen in love with the food of Vietnam through our local Vietnamese community. This book is my go-to when I want to learn the recipes and flavors of this cuisine.”

Justine and La Petite Grocery appear in The Scout Guide New Orleans.

Zack Mills, chef and partner of True Chesapeake Oyster Co. in Baltimore, Maryland

Michael Mina: The Cookbook by Michael Mina and JoAnn Cianciulli. “I’m biased on this one because Michael is my mentor, but the recipes are amazing and there are a lot of approachable options for a cookbook geared towards fine restaurant dining.”

Jean-Louis: Cooking with the Seasons by Jean-Louis Palladin. “Jean-Louis is widely considered the father of high end, seasonal cuisine in Washington, D.C. The book is full of fun French techniques and the chapters are broken out by season which is something I love in cookbooks.”

Patrick O’Connell’s Refined American Cuisine by Patrick O’Connell. “This book focuses on seasonal, local ingredients and refined plays of chef Patrick’s childhood favorites. I consider this book and the restaurant itself huge influences on my cooking.”

Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin. “The best way to describe this book is pure heart and soul. Tipton-Martin’s stories and recipes are ones that everyone should read.”

True Chesapeake Oyster Co. will appear in The Scout Guide Baltimore.

Tony Ridgway, chef and owner of Ridgway Bar & Grill, Tony’s Off Third, Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar, and Sukie’s Wine Shop, in Naples, Florida, and author of Kitchen Privileges.

All Manner of Food by Michael Field. “Not just for recipes, this book talks about food at length. Essays on food begin each chapter and I devoured those pages. I first used his chocolate orange mousse recipe in 1972, which is similar in technique to the one I still use today.”

The Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton. “I have always loved bread baking and use Bernard Clayton’s The Complete Book of Breads daily.”

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. “While not technically a cookbook, if you love food, you have likely owned and used this book for research. If not, perhaps you will find this book and read it. His knowledge takes us to the molecular and chemical levels of food products and cooking. The book’s subtitle says it all, ‘The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.’ I’m on my third copy, after two were loaned and never returned.”          

Ridgway Bar & Grill, Tony’s Off Third, Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar, and Sukie’s Wine Shop appear in The Scout Guide Naples.

Mark Tarbell, chef and owner of Tarbell’s Restaurant, Wine Bar, and Tavern, in Phoenix, Arizona.

La Technique by Jacques Pépin. “This was my first cookbook at age 15. It inspired me to become a chef and restaurateur.”

Beard on Bread by James Beard. “The simplest, most accurate, and easy-to-use cookbook for great American bread.”

With Bold Knife and Fork by M.F.K. Fisher. “Mary Frances Kennedy is one of the all-time greatest writers on the subject of food.”

Tarbell’s Restaurant appears in The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale.

Alexandra Gates, chef and owner of Restaurant Cochineal in Marfa, Texas.

The Book of Tapas by Simone and Ines Ortega. “ A very thorough representation of tapas—I love how the sections are ‘cold’ tapas or ‘hot’ tapas, for inspiration. My favorite part is the section of various well-known chefs’ inclusion of their recipes and menus.”

The Way of the Cocktail by Julia Momosé. “This book is beautiful and approachable. Julia has influenced me to include Japanese-inspired attention to detail at our restaurant, allowing for creativity and approachability in our bar and beyond. It reminds me of the Swiss way of doing things—thorough, detail-oriented, and efficient. The quiet concentration and elegance elevate without being snobby.”

The Art of Simple Food and The Art of Simple Food II by Alice Waters. “These cookbooks are amazing examples of seasonality, exemplifying how important it is to maintain locality in food to maximize flavor. Simplicity in cooking and allowing the food to speak for itself is my motto and method of madness every day in the kitchen.”

Restaurant Cochineal appears in The Scout Guide West Texas.