Which is the best cookbook ever published? Is there such a thing as the best cookbook? What are the favourite cookbooks of chefs? Or bloggers? Or authors who’ve written cookbooks or books about food?
That is the question that a new project by Jon Croft, a food book publisher at Absolute Press and Matthew Cockerill, co-founder of Open Access Publisher, BioMed Central, try to answer with a newly launched website/app called 1000 Cookbooks.
By doing so they have come up with the ultimate list of the top 1000 cookbooks. It has been termed as the ‘Spotify for Food’ in the Bookseller website after a soft launch at the Frankfurt bookfair last week.
1000 Cookbooks asked over 400 people from chefs to authors, bloggers and food professionals to list their 10 favourite English-language recipe books of all time. From this list, they have curated the top 1000 recipe books of all time.
Among those who voted are chefs like Fergus Henderson, Tom Kerridge, Jason Atherton, Virgilio Martinez, Wylie Dufresne and Ruth Rogers and food writers like Allan Jenkins, Ruth Reichl, Amanda Hesser, Tim Hayward, Dan Lepard and Bill Buford.
The book that tops the list is Nose to Tail Eating, the classic book by chef Fergus Henderson. The second favourite is Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, the book that inspired the film Julie and Julia. Third on the list is Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson and Lindey Bareham. French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David is fourth while the legendary White Heat by Marco Pierre White is in fifth place.
The French Laundry, Larousse Gastronomique, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Thai Food and the Joy of Cooking conclude the top 10 list.
So what is Jason Atherton’s favourite books? It is no surprise that his list includes books by some of the best chefs in the world. These include Benu, El Bulli and White Heat. There is one book in common with our list (see disclosure below), the Complete Robuchon.
What about Tom Kerridge? He also likes books by top chefs including Alinea, the Fat Duck Cookbook, the Grand Livre de Cuisine (also in our list) and White Heat among others.
Wylie Dufrense has chosen Mastering the Art of French Cooking, White Heat and Essential Cuisine among others while Virgilio Martinez included Alinea, La Guide Culinaire and Astrance.
Authors, unsurprisingly listed different books. Tim Hayward nominated among others the River Cottage Meat Book and Charcuterie while Amanda Hesser, founder of Food52 lists the Pie and Pastry Bible, Thai Food and the Italian Baker. Former New York Times critic and author Ruth Reichl voted for the Joy of Cooking, a book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David and and the classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan.
You can find out the whole list on the website. You will also be able to search books by categories such as world cuisines and by era. Maybe the most interesting part is the Popular section where you can see the different choices made by authors/editors, bloggers, chefs, food professionals. You will also be surprised at the regional differences of voters, in particular between European and North American contributors.
Moreover, you can also view which are men’s favourite books and which are women’s favourites. You may be surprised to note that there are only three books in common in the top ten for men and for women.
The aim behind the website is to help people discover the books and recipes which will help them build their knowledge, expand their repertoire and delight their family and friends.
The creators of this website and application have promised that the list will be updated as they receive more votes. In the meantime, enjoy browsing and be inspired to try new cookbooks. That is the joy of this website.
(Disclosure: I was also one of the voters and my choice of books in no particular order were the following: The Silver Spoon, The Complete Robuchon, Made in Sicily, Never Trust a Skinny Italian chef, Grand Livre de Cuisine, Cooking with the Masterchef, 1080 Recipes, Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well).
Look out for an interview with one of the founders of 1000 Cookbooks Matthew Cockerill in the coming days.