Books are always a great go-to when looking for gifts that are equally thoughtful and useful. That said, if there's someone in your life who loves spending time in the kitchen, what better present to offer them this year than a chef-approved cookbook?
You've got cool coffee table books for creative types who love a text that doubles as home decor, but if there's someone on your list who's a culinary guru (perhaps one of your holiday hostesses this year?) there's probably no type of reading material they'll appreciate more than a cookbook they'll want to flip through and experiment with for years to come. And if you're not well-versed in the best ones out there, you're in luck: Some of Los Angeles' top women chefs have some truly great options to suggest.
Lauren Lemos, who co-owns coveted sandwich spot of Wax Paper with husband Peter, and Ria Dolly Barbosa, who's woman-ing the ship over at Paramount Coffee Project love both giving and receiving cookbooks as gifts (and both happen to be fans of LA's culinary-focused bookshop Now Serving — where you can find a wealth of them to choose from). They both have their faves for personal use and recommending to others on account of being either accessible, inspirational, or totally sentimental. Ahead, find their picks for cookbooks to give this year, if you happen to be shopping for anyone who's into the joy cooking.
A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price
Much like Lemos and her husband, this cookbook was penned by a married couple — which is probably why it's on her list. "These two traveled the world together, eating their way through countries, collecting menus and recipes," she says. "It’s a dreamy vintage blast from the past and a huge inspiration for [our new restaurant] Lingua Franca!" That said, this one's an especially great pick if you're shopping for any couples who love to mix it up in the kitchen together.
Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
"Anthony Bourdain was a huge inspiration to us and to all, and what society now considers to be the modern food culture started with him," Lemos states. The late chef and TV host had a huge impact on everyone, but especially those who have worked in kitchens or who have an affinity for the culinary world. And with this text, you can not only learn some essential French bistro techniques, but also enjoy his signature storytelling: raw, witty, and full of his unique charm.
Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts
Speaking of Bourdain, this cookbook from Frédéric Morin and David McMillan, the chefs of renowned Montreal eatery Joe Beef, has his stamp of approval, as well as that of Lemos. "They’re the epitome of comfort food and hospitality," she explains. In here, you'll find hearty, rustic French-by-way-of-Canada dishes like winter pot-au-feu or buffalo bison tartare plus a ton of great tips and even a cocktail recipe or two."
Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table by Suzanne Goin
A classic for many chefs — especially those who live in Southern California, where author/chef Suzanne Goin is based — this book is sectioned off by seasons, as it features dishes highlighted with seasonal produce and flavors. As Barbosa explains, "It showcases Californian Cuisine beautifully with recipes that are easy to follow."
Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian American Cooking For Big Nights, Week Nights and Every Day by J.J. Johnson and Alexander Smalls
"Just like the title explains, there is a recipe for every occasion but unlike anything you've made in your kitchen, it has really fun recipes full of bold and bright flavors," says Barbosa of this cookbook, penned by NYC-based Afro-Asian chef J.J. Johnson. Expect to find creative yet surprisingly accessible dishes like grilled watermelon salad with cornbread croutons or beef short ribs with peanut puree.
Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan
As a chef whose calling card is a nod to her Filipino culture, Barbosa sees this cookbook as a classic. "Written by one of the early pioneers of the Filipino food movement, this cookbook is a wonderful mix of traditional-meets-modern and has helped shape the outlook of our culinary landscape," she says. The book is great for even those who just have a budding interest in this type of food, as it includes a brief history, a highlight on key ingredients, and of course quintessential dishes like kinilaw and adobo.