I read cookbooks like their novels; I own multiple cookbooks which I’ve pored over countless times despite having never cooked an actual recipe from them. You might think that strange but I love the weight of them, I love the seriousness of them, and I love the comfort of knowing that they’re filled with precise instructions which – if you follow them to the letter – will always give you your desired end result. You’re never in danger of getting an unsatisfying ending or a cliffhanger from a cookbook. Just imagine what the uproar would have been like around Islington if Ottolenghi had left off the final step of his no-churn raspberry ice cream.
Now, we all know that your favourite cookbooks of all time are the wonderfully well-used MOB Kitchen cookbooks that you’ve got on your kitchen counter, right? I also know that we've already recommended some brilliant restaurant cookbooks and vegan cookbooks to you before. But what about professional chefs out there? What do the best chefs in the country cook from when they’re in need of some divine dinner inspiration? Well, chefs are mortals and use cookbooks, too. A lot of them find inspiration in the pages of cookbooks focussed on cuisines divergent from their own areas of expertise while others find diving deeper into the work of their contemporaries to be a more fulfilling use of time.
Chefs love food more than most people love their children so you shouldn’t be all that surprised that the good majority of cooks and chefs out there are absolute cookbook fiends. I even spoke to one chef who admitted that she recently had to pry three pages of the cookbook they adore apart with a scalpel because there was so much soy sauce on it.
To find out which cookbooks are most worth your time, we asked a range of the UK’s top chefs to tell us about their favourite cookbooks of all time. Here’s what your favourite chef’s favourite cookbook is.