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Coffeetable Cookbooks


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I am doing some research for a friend and could use some guidance. They have asked me to find for them samples of good restaurant cookbooks -- the coffee table variety for armchair readers, collectors and gourmet cooks. The cuisine is not an important. Just looking for which ones out there are good

suggestions?

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Aquavit is a very nice looking coffee table-style book as well as a great cookbook. Babbo, while not the size of a typical coffee table book is a great restaurant cookbook and full of terrific pictures and recipes.

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I don't know if I have ever seen a "coffee table" type restaurant cookbook. I have a Luchow's and a Mama Leone's, but they are just regular cookbooks.

My contribution to the list is a big, colorful, informative, interesting book called "Culinaria" The United Statres - A Culinary Discovery. It covers all the regions in the US and the breakdowns in those regions, as well as the major holidays and such interestings things like snacks, hot dogs, diners, icecream, supermarkets, etc. It has a lot of recipes, but it is more than a cookbook. It is like an encyclopedia of American food. I can't do it justice in these few words, but it is an amazing book.

It does cover ONE restaurant! --- Delmonicos, in NYC.

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Curious - why specifically Restaurant cookbooks?

Slighty restaurant-specific (Maxims) would be the Dali Cookbook

Yes, I was wondering and thinking much the same - the books that come to mind, though not strictly restaurant-y, are Monet's Table and the Toulouse one whose name escapes me at the moment (will look when I get home). Oh. Oh, I see, for a restaurant that wants a book. Well, still - I think there's value in looking at really handsome productions like those for style and so on. Ultimately, you want to do something that will express the style and feel of the restaurant itself, even if it deliberately violates tacit conventions established by other restaurant books. (Well - I guess I mean that's what I'd want if it were me. :wink: )

Oh! one that I think is really well done, albeit a bit obscure, is Chef Chu's.

Should be getting the Waldorf-Astoria one any day now - will report if it's of interest. (And I think I have one or two others, though it isn't my main focus.)

You don't say where you are, so I dont know if this is an option for you, but if I were involved in such a project I'd high-tail it to Kitchen Arts & Letters or [insert name of comparable local emporium here] and scope out the genre.

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Interesting. This is for a restaurant here that wants a book done on them. I am helping them research what makes a good restaurant book.. what would attract you to one...

Ah, than it all makes sense, now...

I suppose the Dali one is so stunning because along with pictures of Maxim's and its service, there is his artwork.

Then there is Anne Willan's From My Chateau Kitchen. Technically not a restaurant, but I think it does what a good coffeetable/cookbook needs to do - it introduces you with wonderfully lush pictures to a place you wish you were and to food you wish to try.

Let's face it, that is what a restaurant would want in production of a coffeetable-style cookbook, no? You want to be drawn into the establishment even though you might be on the otherside of the world. You want to eat there and share in its wonderment.

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Ripert's "A Return to Cooking" (though it's MORE than a coffee table book)

can you talk a bit more about MORE :smile:

I tend to think of "coffee table books" as books that are visually appealing but not necessarily a book one would read cover to cover. "A Return to Cooking" is gorgeous with it's artwork by Valentino Cortazar and the photography of the chef and his cuisine. But it's also captivating to read the recipes, how they were conceived and developed and there are countless anecdotes from Ripert's life in the kitchen. It's really the perfect book!

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Ripert's "A Return to Cooking" (though it's MORE than a coffee table book)

can you talk a bit more about MORE :smile:

I tend to think of "coffee table books" as books that are visually appealing but not necessarily a book one would read cover to cover. "A Return to Cooking" is gorgeous with it's artwork by Valentino Cortazar and the photography of the chef and his cuisine. But it's also captivating to read the recipes, how they were conceived and developed and there are countless anecdotes from Ripert's life in the kitchen. It's really the perfect book!

I am glad I asked. I am not sure what they want. This is going to help me ask the right questions

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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the books that come to mind, though not strictly restaurant-y, are Monet's Table and the Toulouse one whose name escapes me at the moment (will look when I get home).

OK. Monet's Table is by Claire Jones, Simon & Schuster 1989; the Toulouse book is called The Art of Cuisine, by Alfred Joyant, Holt Rhinehart 1966, reprinted Henry Holt 1995. As I said, not tied to specific restaurants, but powerfully evocative of region and period and style. Oh, and here's an oddity from that department - it isn't even a cookbook but it oozes "branding" and recognizable style: The Iron Gate. I'm not quite sure how you would classify it - it's a private issue in honor of the 25th anniversary of "21," and it's almost like a yearbook - full of literary and artistic contributions/tributes from the celebrities who hung out there as of 1950. Actually, I guess it's more of a glorified magazine (including the quantity of advertising), but again it really evokes style, time and place.

Sorry - I'm afraid this part is not very helpful, because I don't know where you'd find a copy (I've never seen another) - but it's a cool thing I'd fogotten I had, and having rediscovered it I couldn't resist telling about it. :cool:

(And now it will be hard to resist sitting down and reading it cover to cover, instead of getting on with my work.)

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I agree with Ripert's Return to Cooking and the French Laundry. And if it's not blasphemy to say so in the same post, I would suggest Flavors by Rocco. If we're talking just coffee table appeal, there is a lot of spirit and personality in it. I disagree with the reading part. I think coffee table books should have some interesting reading as well and I'm enjoying actually reading Rocco's book. Too many times we just flip through the recipes and don't really read it like a book. There's a lot more than recipes in all three books mentioned here. If it's just about pictures, I'm more likely to pic up Chocolat or the Grand Finales books. But we are talking restaurant books here, aren't we?

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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As a great example of a restaurant book that reflects the style of the restaurant, I'd suggest The Balthazar Cookbook. It might be slightly on the small size to qualify as a 'proper' coffee table book, but it's beautifully produced and I think it captures the spirit of the restaurant perfectly. Makes me want to go and eat there whenever I pick it up!

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I would definitely recommend Charlie Palmer's recently published "Aureole Food" - an unusually beautiful book with recipes that can be followed as a whole or in segments. Not only is this an enjoyable book to look at and read but the dozen or so recipes I have made so far all came out as planned without problem.

Ruth Friedman

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Bourdain described the French Laundry as food porn. I refer to Margaret Braun's Cakewalk book as my "hardcore patisserie porn" :raz: .

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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