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The Four Essential Cooks I Turn to Again and Again

I have a cookbook collection that numbers well over 1,000 volumes. Seriously. And I use them. Not every single one every day, it’s true. But I read all of them—for inspiration, for facts, for specific recipes, for styles, for ingredient information, fo…

I have a cookbook collection that numbers well over 1,000 volumes. Seriously. And I use them. Not every single one every day, it’s true. But I read all of them—for inspiration, for facts, for specific recipes, for styles, for ingredient information, for techniques, and just for fun. But there are a handful of books and writers that I go back to constantly. These are the ones I call “The Essentials.”

The Essentials are the friends I can’t do without. Whether it’s for the philosophy of food, or the basics of making a vinaigrette, these are my daily go-tos. I’ve been in professional kitchens my whole adult life, but these writers are as helpful and necessary to me as they are to someone just starting to cook at home. Though I believe that technique is essential when preparing food, there are other things that are equally essential. And my “essentials” remind us what those other things are.

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