Best Cookbooks: Seven Titles for Aspiring Chefs

Cookbooks are an excellent resource for aspiring chefs who are looking to learn cooking techniques or build their recipe repertoire, but narrowing down the hundreds of available titles to the best cookbooks can be challenging. If you're unsure of where to start, here are seven titles every cook should have at their fingertips.

'In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart'
This cookbook by Alice Waters includes detailed explanations of essential kitchen skills, including how to properly roast vegetables, make bread and fillet a fish. Considered indispensable by many, the 50 recipes from Alice and her friends will teach the aspiring chef how to make the most of seasonal produce with simple, flavorful dishes like Moroccan-Style Braised Vegetables, Chicken Noodle Soup with Dill and Apple Gallette.

'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'
Julia Child's 1983 cookbook is a classic for a reason: It is the only cookbook to explain how to create authentic French dishes in American kitchens, using American ingredients. Bursting with 524 recipes, over 100 instructive drawings and detailed notes on the essential techniques of French cooking, it's an indispensable addition to the library of any aspiring chef.

'The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook'
Deb Perelman's cookbook — of the same name as her blog — features more than 100 approachable and delicious recipes developed with the home cook in mind. Every recipe was tested to yield delicious results and is accompanied by a full-color photograph taken by Perelman herself. It's a great choice for vegetarian cooks, or anyone looking for delicious ways to utilize fresh produce, as 85 of the 105 recipes do not include meat. The cookbook reached the no. 2 spot on the New York Times bestseller list, was named one of Cooking Light magazine's "Top 100 Cookbooks of the Last 25 Years" and won the IACP Julia Child First Book Award. With recipes for everything from Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels to Mushroom Bourguignon — and a full complement of cocktails — it's a must-have.

'The Science of Good Cooking'
This carefully researched cookbook from Cook's Illustrated uses food science to unpack and explain 50 basic cooking concepts every chef should know, then builds upon those concepts with 50 fun cooking experiments and 400 classic Cook's Illustrated recipes. The end result is a better understanding of what works, what doesn't and, most importantly, why.

'Baking: From My Home to Yours'
Dorie Greenspan is the author of nine cookbook titles, but this is arguably one of her best. In it, she shares recipes for a bevvy of sweets, from homey classics like Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins to a dramatic black-and-white chocolate cake. Seeing as Dorie has written recipes for some of the world's most accomplished chefs — Pierre Hermé, Daniel Boulud and Julia Child, to name a few — you can feel confident adding this cookbook to your collection.

'James Beard's American Cookery'
James Beard's most recent cookbook features all of his learning distilled into one 896-page book, with 1,500 of his favorite recipes and lots of cooking advice. With recipes spanning everything from Sausage Rolls to Sweet Potato Pie, it's an indispensable addition to the library of any aspiring chef.

'Joy of Cooking'
The 75th anniversary printing of this classic cookbook features 500 new recipes, along with 4,000 beloved dishes that have been reworked and updated for today's home cook. First published in 1975 by Irma Rombauer, this book has taught millions of cooks kitchen fundamentals and essential American recipes. Today, it remains one of the best cookbooks in history. This revision includes a chapter titled "Know Your Ingredients," which is like a mini-encyclopedia within a book, along with recipes for everything from quick and easy dishes to impressive feasts like Beef Wellington and Crown Roast of Pork.

These seven titles are some of the best cookbooks for aspiring chefs, but building a personal reference library of recipe and technique books is a continual process, so it's best to think of the books above as a good start rather than a complete list.

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