Eating for Beginners: An Education in the Pleasures of Food from Chefs, Farmers, and One Picky Kid


Melanie Rehak - 2010
    Since reading the likes of Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and Wendell Berry, she’d tried to eat thoughtfully as well. But after the birth of her son, Jules, she wanted to know more: What mattered most, organic or local? Who were these local farmers? Was it possible to be an ethical consumer and still revel in the delights of food? And why wouldn’t Jules eat anything, organic or not?Eating for Beginners details the year she spent discovering how to be an eater and a parent in today’s increasingly complicated world. She joined the kitchen staff at Applewood, a small restaurant owned by a young couple committed to using locally grown food, and worked on some of the farms that supplied it. Between prepping the nightly menu, milking goats, and sorting beans, Rehak gained an understanding of her own about what to eat and why. (It didn’t hurt that, along the way, even the most dedicated organic farmers admitted that their children sometimes ate McDonald's.) And as we follow her on her quest to find the pleasure in doing the right thing—and become a better cook in the bargain—we too will make our peace with food.

Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger


Nigel Slater - 2003
    Toast is Nigel Slater's truly extraordinary story of a childhood remembered through food. In each chapter, as he takes readers on a tour of the contents of his family's pantry - rice pudding, tinned ham, cream soda, mince pies, lemon drops, bourbon biscuits - we are transported...

Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family


Patricia Volk - 2001
    Volk’s family fed New York City for one hundred years, from 1888 when her great-grandfather introduced pastrami to America until 1988, when her father closed his garment center restaurant. All along, food was pretty much at the center of their lives. But as seductively as Volk evokes the food, Stuffed is at heart a paean to her quirky, vibrant relatives: her grandmother with the “best legs in Atlantic City”; her grandfather, who invented the wrecking ball; her larger-than-life father, who sculpted snow thrones when other dads were struggling with snowmen. Writing with great freshness and humor, Patricia Volk will leave you hungering to sit down to dinner with her robust family–both for the spectacle and for the food.

Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America


Jonathan Dixon - 2011
    But for those who make the decision, the difference between the dream and reality can be gigantic—especially at the top cooking school in the country. For the first time in the Culinary Institute of America’s history, a book will give readers the firsthand experience of being a full-time student facing all of the challenges of the legendary course in its entirety.On the eve of his thirty-eighth birthday and after shuffling through a series of unsatisfying jobs, Jonathan Dixon enrolled in the CIA (on a scholarship) to pursue his passion for cooking. In Beaten, Seared, and Sauced he tells hilarious and harrowing stories of life at the CIA as he and his classmates navigate the institution’s many rules and customs under the watchful and critical eyes of their instructors. Each part of the curriculum is covered, from knife skills and stock making to the high-pressure cooking tests and the daunting wine course (the undoing of many a student). Dixon also details his externship in the kitchen of Danny Meyer’s Tabla, giving readers a look into the inner workings of a celebrated New York City restaurant. With the benefit of his age to give perspective to his experience, Dixon delivers a gripping day-to-day chronicle of his transformation from amateur to professional. From the daily tongue-lashings in class to learning the ropes—fast—at a top NYC kitchen, Beaten, Seared, and Sauced is a fascinating and intimate first-person view of one of America’s most famous culinary institutions and one of the world’s most coveted jobs.

Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything


Simon Majumdar - 2009
    As he wondered how to escape his career, he rediscovered a list of goals he had scrawled out years before, the last of which said: Go everywhere, eat everything. With that, he had found his mission -- a yearlong search for the delicious, and curious, and the curiously delicious, which he names "Eat My Globe" and memorably chronicles in these pages.In Majumdar's world, food is everything. Like every member of his family, he has a savant's memory for meals, with instant recall of dishes eaten decades before. Simon's unstoppable wit and passion for all things edible (especially those things that once had eyes, and a face, and a mom and a pop) makes this an armchair traveler's and foodie's delight -- Majumdar does all the heavy lifting, eats the heavy foods (and suffers the weighty consequences), so you don't have to. He jets to thirty countries in just over twelve months, diving mouth-first into local cuisines and cultures as different as those of Japan and Iceland. His journey takes him from China, where he consumes one of his "Top Ten Worst Eats," stir-fried rat, to the United States, where he glories in our greatest sandwiches: the delectable treasures of Katz's Delicatessen in Manhattan, BBQ in Kansas and Texas, the still-rich po' boys of post-Katrina New Orleans.The meat of the story -- besides the peerless ham in Spain, the celebrated steaks of Argentina, the best of Munich's wursts as well as their descendants, the famous hot dogs of Chicago -- is the friends that Simon makes as he eats. They are as passionate about food as he is and are eager to welcome him to their homes and tables, share their choicest meals, and reveal their local secrets. Also a poignant memoir, "Eat My Globe" is a life told through food and spiced with Majumdar's remembrances of foods past, including those from his colorful childhood. (Raised in Northern England, he is the son of a fiery Welsh nurse and a distinguished Bengali surgeon.) A captivating look at one man's passion for food, family, and unique life experiences, Eat My Globe will make you laugh -- while it makes you hungry. It is sure to satiate any gastronome obsessed with globetrotting -- for now.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise


Ruth Reichl - 2005
    She also knows that as the most important food critic in the country, you need to be anonymous when reviewing some of the most high-profile establishments in the biggest restaurant town in the world--a charge she took very seriously, taking on the guise of a series of eccentric personalities. In Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl reveals the comic absurdity, artifice, and excellence to be found in the sumptuously appointed stages of the epicurean world and gives us--along with some of her favorite recipes and reviews--her remarkable reflections on how one's outer appearance can influence one's inner character, expectations, and appetites, not to mention the quality of service one receives.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch -- Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods


Jennifer Reese - 2011
    She had never before considered making her own peanut butter and pita bread, let alone curing her own prosciutto or raising turkeys. And though it sounded logical that "doing it yourself" would cost less, she had her doubts. So Reese began a series of kitchen-related experiments, taking into account the competing demands of everyday contemporary American family life as she answers some timely questions: When is homemade better? Cheaper? Are backyard eggs a more ethical choice than store-bought? Will grinding and stuffing your own sausage ruin your week? Is it possible to make an edible maraschino cherry? Some of Reese's discoveries will surprise you: Although you should make your hot dog buns, guacamole, and yogurt, you should probably buy your hamburger buns, potato chips, and rice pudding. Tired? Buy your mayonnaise. Inspired? Make it. With its fresh voice and delightful humor, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter gives 120 recipes with eminently practical yet deliciously fun "Make or buy" recommendations. Reese is relentlessly entertaining as she relates her food and animal husbandry adventures, which amuse and perplex as well as nourish and sustain her family. Her tales include living with a backyard full of cheerful chickens, muttering ducks, and adorable baby goats; countertops laden with lacto-fermenting pickles; and closets full of mellowing cheeses. Here's the full picture of what is involved in a truly homemade life -- with the good news that you shouldn't try to make everything yourself -- and how to get the most out of your time in the kitchen.

Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life


Kim Severson - 2010
     Somewhere between the lessons her mother taught her as a child and the ones she is now trying to teach her own daughter, Kim Severson stumbled. She lost sight of what mattered, of who she was and who she wanted to be, and of how she wanted to live her life. It took a series of women cooks to reteach her the life lessons she forgot-and some she had never learned in the first place. Some as small as a spoonful, and others so big they saved her life, the best lessons she found were delivered in the kitchen. Told in Severson's frank, often funny, always perceptive style, "Spoon Fed" weaves together the stories of eight important cooks with the lessons they taught her-lessons that seemed to come right when she needed them most. We follow Kim's journey from an awkward adolescent to an adult who channeled her passions into failing relationships, alcohol, and professional ambition, almost losing herself in the process. Finally as Severson finds sobriety and starts a family of her own, we see her mature into a strong, successful woman, as we learn alongside her. An emotionally rich, multilayered memoir and an inspirational, illuminating series of profiles of the most influential women in the world of food, " Spoon Fed " is Severson's story and the story of the women who came before her-and ultimately, a testament to the wisdom that can be found in the kitchen.

The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove


Cathy Erway - 2010
    An underpaid, twenty-something executive assistant in New York City, she was struggling to make ends meet when she decided to embark on a Walden- esque retreat from the high-priced eateries that drained her wallet. Though she was living in the nation's culinary capital, she decided to swear off all restaurant food. The Art of Eating In chronicles the delectable results of her twenty-four-month experiment, with thirty original recipes included. What began as a way to save money left Erway with a new appreciation for the simple pleasure of sharing a meal with friends at home, the subtleties of home-cooked flavors, and whether her ingredients were ethically grown. She also explored the anti-restaurant underground of supper clubs and cook-offs, and immersed herself in an array of alternative eating lifestyles from freeganism and dumpster-diving to picking tasty greens on a wild edible tour in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Culminating in a binge that leaves her with a foodie hangover, The Art of Eating In is a journey to savor. Watch a Video

More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen


Laurie Colwin - 1993
    In this delightful mix of recipes, advice, and anecdotes, she writes about often overlooked food items such as beets, pears, black beans, and chutney. With down-to-earth charm and wit, Colwin also discusses the many pleasures and problems of cooking at home in essays such as "Desserts That Quiver," "Turkey Angst," and "Catering on One Dollar a Head." As informative as it is entertaining, More Home Cooking is a delicious treat for anyone who loves to spend time in the kitchen.

Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire


Barbara Lynch - 2017
    She earned a daredevil reputation for boosting vehicles (even a city bus), petty theft, drinking and doing drugs, and narrowly escaping arrest—haunted all the while by a painful buried trauma.Out of Line describes Lynch’s remarkable process of self-invention, including her encounters with colorful characters of the food world, and vividly evokes the magic of creation in the kitchen. It is also a love letter to South Boston and its vanishing culture, governed by Irish Catholic mothers and its own code of honor. Through her story, Lynch explores how the past—both what we strive to escape from and what we remain true to—can strengthen and expand who we are.

Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter


Phoebe Damrosch - 2007
    Before long she was a captain at the New York City four-star restaurant Per Se, the culinary creation of master chef Thomas Keller.Service Included is the story of her experiences there: her obsession with food, her love affair with a sommelier, and her observations of the highly competitive and frenetic world of fine dining.

Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker


Gesine Bullock-Prado - 2009
    The only solace she found was in her secret hobby: baking. With every sugary, buttery confection to emerge from her oven, Gesine took one step away from her glittery, empty existence—and one step closer to her true destiny. Before long, she and her husband left the trappings of their Hollywood lifestyle behind, ending up in Vermont, where they started the gem known as Gesine Confectionary. And they never looked back. Confections of a Closet Master Baker follows Gesine's journey from sugar-obsessed child to miserable, awkward Hollywood insider to reluctant master baker. Chock-full of eccentric characters, beautifully detailed descriptions of her baking process, ceaselessly funny renditions of Hollywood nonsense, and recipes, the ingredients of her story will appeal to anyone who has ever considered leaving the life they know and completely starting over.

The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart


Emily Nunn - 2017
    After a few glasses of wine, heartbroken and lost, Emily, an avid cook and professional food writer, poured her heart out on Facebook. The next morning she woke up with a terrible hangover and a feeling she'd made a terrible mistake, only to discover she had more friends than she knew, many of whom invited her to come visit and cook with them while she put her life back together. Thus began the Comfort Food Tour.Searching for a way forward, Emily travels the country, cooking and staying with relatives and friends, among them renowned chefs Mark Bittman and Ina Garten. She also travels back to revisit scenes from her dysfunctional Southern upbringing, dominated by her dramatic, unpredictable mother and her silent, disengaged father. Her wonderfully idiosyncratic aunts and uncles and cousins come to life in these pages, all part of the rich Southern story in which past and present are indistinguishable, food is a source of connection and identity, and a good story is often preferred to a not-so-pleasant truth. But truth, pleasant or not, is what Emily Nunn craves, and with it comes an acceptance of the losses she has endured, and a sense of hope for the future.In the salty snap of a single Virginia ham biscuit, in the sour tang of Grandmother's Lemon Cake, Nunn experiences the healing power of comfort food, and offers up dozens of recipes for the wonderful meals that saved her life. With the biting humor of David Sedaris and the emotional honesty of Cheryl Strayed, Nunn delivers a moving account of her descent into darkness and her gradual, hard-won return to the living.

32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line


Eric Ripert - 2016
    The winner of four James Beard Awards, co-owner and chef of a world-renowned restaurant, and recipient of countless Michelin stars, Ripert embodies elegance and culinary perfection. But before the accolades, before he even knew how to make a proper hollandaise sauce, Eric Ripert was a lonely young boy in the south of France whose life was falling apart.Ripert's parents divorced when he was six, separating him from the father he idolized and replacing him with a cold, bullying stepfather who insisted that Ripert be sent away to boarding school. A few years later, Ripert's father died on a hiking trip. Through these tough times, the one thing that gave Ripert comfort was food. Told that boys had no place in the kitchen, Ripert would instead watch from the doorway as his mother rolled couscous by hand or his grandmother pressed out the buttery dough for the treat he loved above all others, tarte aux pommes. When an eccentric local chef took him under his wing, an eleven-year-old Ripert realized that food was more than just an escape: It was his calling. That passion would carry him through the drudgery of culinary school and into the high-pressure world of Paris's most elite restaurants, where Ripert discovered that learning to cook was the easy part--surviving the line was the battle.Taking us from Eric Ripert's childhood in the south of France and the mountains of Andorra into the demanding kitchens of such legendary Parisian chefs as Joel Robuchon and Dominique Bouchet, until, at the age of twenty-four, Ripert made his way to the United States, 32 Yolks is the tender and richly told story of how one of our greatest living chefs found himself--and his home--in the kitchen.Praise for Eric Ripert's 32 Yolks"Passionate, poetical . . . What makes 32 Yolks compelling is the honesty and laudable humility Ripert brings to the telling."--Chicago Tribune"With a vulnerability and honesty that is breathtaking . . . Ripert takes us into the mind of a boy with thoughts so sweet they will cause you to weep. He also lets us into the mind of the man he is today, revealing all the golden cracks and chips that made him more valuable to those around him."--The Wall Street Journal"Eric Ripert makes magic with 32 Yolks."--Vanity Fair"32 Yolks may not be what you'd expect from a charming, Emmy-winning cooking show host and cookbook author. In the book, there are, of course, scenes of elaborate meals both eaten and prepared. . . . But Ripert's story is, for the most part, one of profound loss."--Los Angeles Times "This book demonstrates just how amazing Eric's life has been both inside and outside of the kitchen. It makes total sense now to see him become one of the greatest chefs in the world today. This is a portrait of a chef as a young man."--David Chang