10 Best French Cookbooks Right Now
We believe cooking is meant for everybody. Anyone who’s a little creative and always adds that secret ingredient, love, has the potential to turn into a brilliant chef. Cooking is about passion, creativity, sometimes about intuition, a lot of times about timing, but, mostly, it’s something you can learn and perfect.
Cooking is an art. And whether practicing in the privacy of your own kitchen or as a busy professional, everyone needs to work to stay at the top of their game.
We’re here to help you do that. We have invested a lot of time researching content to bring you the best tools, tips, tricks and advice. But when it comes to culinary art, where else can we look than that pinnacle of world cuisine the French kitchen.
Here, class meets artistry. An infinite palette of tastes, intricate combinations of ingredients, and detailed plating are just of a few of the most important traits of French cuisine, all of which have been put together into a top selection of the best French cuisine cook books.
We’ve taken into consideration the favorite books of some of our favorite chefs out there, including Eric Ripert, Daniel Rose, Corey Chow, Gérald Barthélémy, François Payard, Nicholas Stefanelli and Eric and Bruce Bromberg, some of which are well renowned chefs, owners of Michelin-starred restaurants, and influential authors and food critics.
While some of our suggestions are encyclopedias meant to be followed literally to the letter, others are modern reinterpretations with step-by-step recipes for improving your overall cooking. You may even find our choices to be inspiring and choose one as an addition to your kitchen and library. And since the kitchen is the place where lifestyle rules are set, a great book that inspires your cooking can be good enough reason to upping those rules.
Cheers to improving our lifestyle!
1. Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia, Completely Revised and Updated
No cooking career will get off the ground without one of the most essential cook books out there, the French cooking bible, Le Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia. For cuisine enthusiasts, it’s important to master the art of cooking, but when love for cooking turns into the desire to know as much as you can, the Larousse Gastronomique is the must-have tool for turning you into a professional.
It goes without saying that the World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia, Completely Revised and Updated does not only offer à la carte recipes, it also teaches readers and chefs important aspects of the history of French cuisine, terminology, ingredients, equipment, culinary biographies, as well as the proper way to use cooking techniques.
Now imagine all those reviews and summaries written by authors on book covers. When it comes to Larousse Gastronomique, “indispensable” and “a great classic” are just a few.
If I were allowed only one reference book in my library, Larousse Gastronomique would be it, without question.Julia Child
Since its publication in 1983, Le Larousse Gastronomique has been one of the most crucial and necessary resources for culinary knowledge. The culinary landscape has gone through fundamental changes in the past 10 to 20 years, and the Larousse has been reviewed and updated, leading the way in progressive methods and techniques, such as molecular gastronomy.
The 21st-century edition of Le Larousse Gastronomique is enhanced with 3,800 recipes featuring dishes from all over the world, 400 reportage photos of the most prestigious restaurants today, and behind-the-scenes access to the kitchens responsible for the finest food. And, of course, it includes biographies of chefs whose influence and contribution to worldwide improvement of cooking needs to be known, whose views and dedication have changed the way we see gastronomy today.
Don’t miss out on this epic tale of fine cuisine.
2. The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery: For Connoisseurs, Chefs, Epicures Complete With 2,973 Recipes
Regarded as a suitable partner to the Larousse Gastronomique, the Escoffier Cookbook provides a “how-to” method of techniques which help improve cooking. Aimed at those who have already mastered their way around basic and not-so-basic cooking, the Escoffier is here to teach you the steps for perfecting dishes.
Classic cookbooks come with recipes, quantities, and ingredients for putting together a certain dish. But the Escoffier aims to perfect your technique, making it a must-have for professionals.
Originally published in 1903, it features over 2,500 short recipes and summarized, comprehensive, intelligible content aimed to propel you from better to best.
3. Le Répertoire De La Cuisine: The World Renowned Classic Used by the Experts
Le Répertoire De La Cuisine: The World Renowned Classic Used by the Experts has a title that speaks for itself: a classic for experts.
Written by an Escoffier student back in 1914, Le Répertoire contains a lot of the recipes and techniques featured in that school. But as students will have it, this can be seen as the “how-to” manual of a disciple following his mentor and it’s therefore suitable as a brief reference for professional cooks rather than beginners. If you’re looking for a complete encyclopedia, you’re not going to find it here.
Instead, if you’re hoping to find a brief guide, a problem-solver and a source of inspiration in portable size, Le Répertoire De La Cuisine is the one for you.
4. Paul Bocuse: The Complete Recipes + Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking
Paul Bocuse needs no introduction. But to all foodies out there taking baby steps toward their cooking career, we’ll take a moment to spotlight this star of the culinary walk of fame.
Paul Bocuse is regarded as the father of modern French cuisine, and a beacon for the culinary world over the past 50 years. In 2011, the Culinary Institute of America named him Chef of the Century. There are three Michelin stars and the Legion of Honor in his name.
We can even say Paul Bocuse owns French cuisine, and he’s had all the time in the world to prove it. In this book, he shares 500 traditional recipes to hook any beginner on the artistry of cooking, but that are appealing enough to attract a more experienced and confident chef.
Simple enough to prepare at home with fresh and available ingredients, the book features recipes for main dishes as well as desserts, covering everything from soups and soufflés to terrines, fish, meat, vegetables, and sweets, going through ideal cooking times for different types of meat, conversion tables, and the most common culinary terms.
As essential in your library as the books you grew up with, The Complete Recipes by Paul Bocuse could be your go-to if you’re expecting guests over for a weekend and are looking for something special, or if you’re experienced but have a taste for classic flavor.
Aimed at the home cook, Bocuse did his part in turning basically anyone into a food lover and a gastronomy enthusiast.
Without further ado, let’s talk about another book by “the most legendary chef in France”, as The Strategist describes him. It is simply inconceivable to talk about worldwide cuisine, especially French, without mentioning this grand master.
Chef Corey Chow says Bocuse is the reason he ended up in the kitchen.
I was reading the recipes like you would read a novel.Chef Corey Chow
And in our humble opinion, that’s artistry right there.
Now, French Cooking is more of a niche cookbook and it does come at a price. But while some famous cookbooks are not necessarily affordable, they are compulsory for skilled chefs looking to evolve.
What’s remarkable about Paul Bocuse’s approach to cuisine is the seasonal market-driven food, and how he adds a twist to the traditional.
5. Michel Guérard’s Cuisine Minceur
Michel Guérard’s book is quite a challenge – as in any subject, there are some books meant pour les connaisseurs: not only are they less mainstream but they may be hard to find.
Cuisine Minceur is out of print and the only way to get your hands on a copy is to buy it second-hand or photocopy it.
“Cuisine minceur” is a term coined by Guérard meaning “spa food”, a lighter style of cooking. And that’s exactly what this book delivers: it rebuilds French recipes with alternative ingredients, replacing butter with yogurt and other tricks that teach you how to balance flavor and the healthiest of nutrients.
6. The French Laundry Cookbook
Written by chef and owner of the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, endorsed by the NY Times as “the most exciting place to eat in the United States”, Thomas Keller is a perfectionist, an author, and a creator of refined cooking courses.
He has mastered, and he teaches, innovative techniques that help you think outside the box in order to enhance flavors and shape to create better dishes.
With 150 recipes that don’t leave anything out, from the secrets of cooking great fish to breakthrough ideas for coffee and doughnuts and everything else in between, The French Laundry Cookbook is “as close to dining perfection as it gets”.
7. Bistronomy: Recipes from the Best New Paris Bistros
Today’s cooking needs a twist: it needs more comfort, more fun, and less formality, which is a great way for young chefs to get inventive. Everyone needs to make a living, and cooking is something to easily fall in love with. But in small spaces, in small kitchens, and with few to no staff, chefs must become creative.
Bistronomy is a take on French food reimagined according to today’s needs. It proves that fine artistry does not need expensive tools, but it does need creativity and passion, and it is something anyone can enjoy. Just as a trip to a hidden bistro in Paris will make you fall head over heels for French food, Bistronomy will get you hooked on 21st century cooking.
8. Alexandre Gauthier: Chef, La Grenouillère
French cooking is a lot about mentorship, and Chef, La Grenouillère provides that and combines traditional ways of doing things with the opportunities we have today.
Modern cuisine is bold and sometimes audacious, and, mixed with a class in French cuisine, the outcome is a compilation of grand mastery and the courage of doing less with more. Going wild in the kitchen. Expressing oneself through every possible means. In short, it’s (cooking) art today.
9. Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Our list wouldn’t be complete without America’s favourite French cook book, Julia Child’s take on French cuisine, featured on the New York Times’ bestseller list, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Aimed at beginners and experts alike, Child’s book, with the participation of Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, unlike classic cookbooks which present a variety of dishes, manages to create a sequence of themes spicing them up with variety. Here you’ll find famous recipes creatively elaborated, which can help anyone turn into a pro.
Highly regarded by Thomas Keller himself, Julia Child revolutionized cooking with her broad vision, adding technique to good foundations, and has made everyone aware of the pleasures of dining.
10. Grand Livre De Cuisine
Alain Ducasse is famous even among people with no cooking skills whatsoever. Alain Ducasse has 21 Michelin stars under his belt and is without question one of the best chefs in the entire world. He is also author of Le Grande Livre de Cuisine.
Consider it the gastronomy bible because it delivers a cooking masterclass at its highest.
It’s the last on our list simply because of its price. This may be a book beyond your price for something to complete your library. But if you are a top chef or enough of a fan to understand the importance of Le Grande Livre de Cuisine, then there’s no explaining to be done.
Price may also refer to its scarcity since this volume is no longer in print. It’s a grand encyclopedia, like the Larousse and the Escoffier, but this volume adds modern twists and takes to traditionally styled recipes. And they come from the perspective of Alain Ducasse.
Enjoying food is probably the main thing that brings people together, regardless of culture, taste, and upbringing. If done right, it’s a form of art that everyone loves, that anyone can bring a twist to and shape to their own likes and styles. But since influencing cuisine is bound by certain fundamentals, we must learn a thing or two from the masters of it all: the French.
Find what you love and learn how to twist it according to your taste, style, place, and creativity. And hopefully, with the help of our recommendations above.
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