A Food Writer's List of 10 Essential Food Books
Second, Cooking Dirty: A Story of Life, Sex, Love and Death in the Kitchen by Jason Sheehan. Sheehan is the restaurant critic for Westword, our sister paper in Denver. He's a fantastic writer: I read his reviews every week even though I've never been to Denver and don't foresee a trip there any time soon. His memoir is a hilarious and, yeah, profane (notice a trend in my tastes?) look at his career as a cook in some truly seedy joints and his eventual transition into being a restaurant critic.
But 'tis the season for making lists -- and holiday shopping. So if you're looking for a book or two or ten to give to the foodie in your life, here's a list of what have been the ten essential books in my own development as a food writer.
These books are the best of both worlds: Not only are they vital references for the reviews I write, but they are also the sort of books I can pick up again and again knowing that, even if I browse only a few pages, I'll learn something new.
The Professional Chef: This is the textbook at the Culinary Institute of America, and it's priced like a textbook ($70). But for the money you get a reference guide, an instruction manual on kitchen technique and a cookbook. As a writer, I find the first 300 or so pages the most useful. There you'll find full-color photographs illustrating (to provide just a couple of examples) the different cuts of meat or the different species of fish.