For over 40 years, my love for reading cookbooks has grown. As a young child, I would sit with my Great-Grandmother, Nanie Raynes, as she would read to me countless numbers of cookbooks from cover to cover. As an extra special reward, she and I would prepare a recipe or work on a project together. I loved her so much; she inspired me to be the creative person that I am today.
As a hospitality professional, my passion continues by reading and collecting copious amounts of books. These include all types of culinary and lifestyle books from those about the art of entertaining and décor to cookbooks reflecting different heritages and traditions. “What can I say, I can’t resist a good cookbook!” Nevertheless, my cookbooks (about 3,000 or so) have always energized and influenced me to craft new ideas. Since sharing is so important to me, I wanted to create this article for you to get inspired, too.
Here are a few of my new favorites that are available now to get you started!
Starting with Ingredients
Quintessential Recipes for the Way We Really Cook
By Aliza Green
Photography by Steve Legato
Running Press Book Publishers; 1024 pages; hardcover; $39.95
Not since Joy of Cooking have I found such a complete reference guide filled with hundreds of recipes and instructions that is easy and fun to read. The introduction to Starting with Ingredients immediately drew me into the book, followed by an incredibly organized table of contents that is cleverly done as well – with each of its 100 chapters having its own table of contents. The section covering Quince, an amazing sweet fruit, was alone worth purchasing the book for. Green’s knowledge of ingredients and the origins of dishes, combined with her creative recipes have been brought together in one irresistible book.
Gathering Together to Share and Savor Your Favorite Tastes
By Dina Cheney
Photography by Charles Schiller
DK Publishing; 256 pages; hardcover; $22
A blend of a how-to-guide for entertaining and a collection of exquisite gourmet menus – Tasting Club covers it all, and there is no cooking involved! Dina Cheney, a cooking teacher and tasting host, has written Tasting Club for those who love gourmet cuisine but lack the time, skill, or desire to host dinner with an elaborate menu.
Tasting Club focuses on fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow tasting menus featuring simple to complex pairings. Superb photographs throughout each chapter provide beautiful examples of presenting menu items. Tasting Club is as much of a product information source as it is a source for putting together a tasting of wonderful items – a very nice combination!
Big Small Plates
By Cindy Pawlcyn with Pablo Jacinto & Erasto Jacinto
Photography by Laurie Smith
Ten Speed Press; 384 pages; hardcover; $35
With two cookbooks under her belt, including her James Beard Award winning Mustards Grill Cookbook, Cindy Pawlcyn gives cooks everywhere a new reason to return to the kitchen. Big Small Plates focuses on creating small dishes with only the freshest ingredients. In my business with “small plates” still being so popular, I fell in love with this book! It shows innovative ways of putting together a menu of different tapas-style dishes…creating delicious and eye-catching big small plates. This will especially appeal to experienced cooks.
By Darina Allen
Photography by Kyle Books; 304 pages; hardcover; $35
As the International Association of Culinary Professionals “Cooking Teacher of The Year”, Darina Allen has successfully written a wonderful instructional cookbook for both experienced and novice hosts. Easy Entertaining covers the basics of hosting a bash and outlines fabulous style and menu ideas for a variety of occasions. More than 250 unique recipes (I loved the Spring Nettle Soup, page 226) and menu suggestions can be found along with Allen’s well-written advice. I highly recommend this book to hosts of all levels of experience, but especially to novice entertainers.
Food Network Favorites
Recipes from Our All-Star Chefs
By Food Network and Jennifer Darling as Editor
Food Photography by Mark Ferri, Robert Jacobs, Craig Mathews
Food Network; 264 pages, hardcover; $29.95
I am a Food Network “JUNKIE!” As a hospitality specialist, I feel that Food Network has made cooking, food presentation and entertaining accessible to everyone. It has given my clients the confidence and inspiration to ask us professionals to do more interesting work. I first picked up Food Network Favorites because I was curious to see if the book offered as much as the television shows…and it does…it delivers!
Food Network Favorites, showcasing 110 favorite recipes from 11 featured celebrity chefs, is highly recommended. From Michael Chiarello’s “Segmenting the Citrus” to Paula Dean’s “Stuffing the Shrimp” to Rachel Ray’s “Quick Peaches & Golden Raisins Cobbler!”— you will treasure this cookbook for years to come.
About A Legendary Event
Formed in 1997, A Legendary Event has grown into a multi-million dollar full-service event enterprise, handling more than 2,500 events a year. Known for his Midas touch, President and Owner Tony Conway is admired by top CEOs, celebrities and politicians for his attention to detail and penchant for providing fresh, trend-setting and uniquely presented fare, always with the client in mind. A Legendary Event is located in Atlanta and can be reached at (404) 869-8858. For more information, please visit www.alegendaryevent.com.