‘Dazzling’ Cookbook Season

The LA TimesCookbook Watch” column separates out the high-profile chef books from those that work for the home chef from this season’s “dazzling cookbook lineup.” 

Six books for the Home Cook

The following are considered  “the most consistent, intelligent and creative” by the LA Times:

A16: Food + Wine

Appleman, Nate

  • Hardcover: $36; 278 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (September 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1580089070
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580089074

The LA Times calls this the “best of the bunch.” Of the six titles, this and the Jamie Oliver are on order the most widely and have the highest holds to copy ratios.


Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life

Oliver, Jamie

  • Hardcover: $37.50; 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (September 16, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1401322425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401322427

The LA Times calls Jamie’s book on cooking from his home garden “folksy, endearing”


A Platter of Figs

Tanis, David

  • Hardcover: $35
  • Publisher: Artisan (September 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1579653464
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579653460

This book has appeared on EarlyWord before (it was featured in the NYT Magazine). The other coast’s Times considers it “a lovely read. The recipes are nice too, although the book can be frustrating for those cooking for fewer than eight.” it’s on order by fewer libraries than the previous two titles.


The following three are considered “less reliable but often more inspiring” than the above titles:

Olives & Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets From Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Beyond

 Jenkins, Sara and Fox, Mindy

  • Hardcover: $36; 384 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1 edition (September 8, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 061867764X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618677641

Olives & Oranges is on order for half the libraries I checked. The libraries that have it on order are showing holds.


The River Cottage Family Cookbook

  • Hardcover: $32.50; 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (August 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1580089259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580089258

Holds are showing for the libraries that have it  on order.


Two Dudes, One Pan 

Shook, Jon and Dotolo, Vinny 

  • Paperback: #24.95; 240 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter (August 26, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0307382605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307382603

Owned widely, with some holds.


High-Profile Chef Books

The LA Times takes a dim view of high-end cookbooks, which require “special equipment and ingredients (liquid nitrogen canisters, toad skin melons).” If you check out food bloggers, however, you will see a lot of excitement about these books.

You may not want to spring for the $250 Big Fat Duck Cookbook, but consider the others as “dream books”, or for the chefs in your area.

In one of the libraries I worked in, we had a customer who checked out dozens of cookbooks each week. I said, “You must be a terrific cook!” 

“Oh, no,” she said, “I read them like fiction.”


Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide 

Keller, Thomas 

  • Hardcover: $76; 304 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan (October 15, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1579653510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579653514

Mike Rockliff, points out in his most recent Workman Update newsletter for librarians, (to get it, email mrockliff@workman.com with “Subscribe” in the subject line) that the “sous vide” technique is not necessarily out of the range of the home cook. The Wall Street Journal recently ran Trying Sous Vide at Home: A restaurant technique makes its way to consumers’ kitchens; Nathan Myhrvold’s 72-hour short ribs.” And, according to the NYT  Applebee’s (yes, really) is interested in adapting the technique. The Today Show will feature Keller on Nov. 18th, followed by CBS Early Show, and Weekend Today

Under Pressure is on order for a few libraries. The following titles are not on order for any of the libraries I checked:


A Day at elBulli: An Insight into the Ideas, Methods and Creativity of Ferran Adria

Adrià, Ferran

  • Hardcover: $49.95
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; (October 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0714848832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714848839



Achatz, Grant 

  • Hardcover: $60; 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (October 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1580089283
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580089289

Big Fat Duck Cookbook

Heston Blumenthal

  • Hardcover: $250; 532 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (November 11, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1596915501
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596915503

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