Professional cookbooks will teach you foundational techniques that will change the way you cook. These cookbooks are the training ground for chefs. They are packed full of cooking techniques. Some of the recipes are made for large batches. For the home cook, studying the techniques in the pages of these books is just as important as the recipes.
The Professional Chef – Culinary Institute of America: The 1230 pages of The Professional Chef is packed full of all things culinary. This is one of the standard textbooks used at the Culinary Institute of America. The main issue for the home cook in using this book is that a lot of the recipes are larger quantities. However, for a cook who wants to start at the beginning and learn proper technique, this book has it all.
Professional Cooking – Wayne Gisslen: The first culinary class that I took at my local community college used the Gisslen book as the text. It is a required textbook for many culinary classes. It is packed full of basic techniques that will serve as a springboard to your learning.
On Cooking – Sarah Labensky: Along with the Gisslen text, On Cooking was also used in a few classes that I took at my local community college. If you are looking for a book that will teach you fundamental techniques, On Cooking is a great place to start. As with many of the other books written for the trade, some of the recipes are large batch.
Advanced Bread and Pastry – Michel Suas: This book is for someone who truly wants to learn how to bake. It teaches you fundamental techniques that will help you become a great home baker. Some of the recipes are large, however, the book has so many baking techniques that I believe it is a great addition to any cookbook library.
The Professional Pastry Chef – Bo Friberg: I have two copies of this book in my cookbook library. One I purchased and the other came to me as a gift. Instead of exchanging it, I kept it. I love this book so much that I couldn’t give up the second copy.
The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef – Bo Friberg: This is a must have as a companion to The Professional Pastry Chef which covers breads, cakes, pastries, and desserts. The advanced version is heavier on decorated cakes, desserts, and chocolate work.
The French Laundry – Thomas Keller: I’ve never cooked a single recipe from The French Laundry. To be honest, it intimidates me. However, I recommend this book because you will learn a lot from Thomas Keller without ever cooking a single recipe – without a doubt.
The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery – Auguste Escoffier: This book was written by Escoffier who was known as “the king of chefs and the chef of kings.” He changed the way that restaurants operated by streamlining processes and menu. He also developed the concept of the 5 mother sauces.
New Larousse Gastronomique – Hamlyn: – An updated version of the culinary encyclopedia originally edited by Prosper Montagne in 1938. This encyclopedia is filled with technique as well as recipes. It will teach you about ingredients as well as equipment.
Becoming a Chef – Andrew Dornenburg: Even though this book is focused on those who are interested in a career in culinary, it is a great read for the home cook. Some of the most beloved chef’s share their path to becoming a chef and opening a restaurant. Their passion for the culinary world is an inspiration for would be chefs and home cooks alike.
Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques – Joni Wright: – This book is great because it has step by step photographs that are really helpful. There is a lot of information about techniques for the beginner cook. The book has a lot of photos so it is easy to grasp exactly what should be done in a recipe or technique.