The best cookbooks from restaurants
Even at the highest level, the best food is often the most personal, as you'll come to understand when perusing Anita Lo's debut cookbook. The story here, in essays and recipes, explains why the fusion fare works so well at her West Village restaurant, Annisa. Lo is a product of the world, a seasoned traveler who was raised outside Detroit by a Malaysian mom and German stepdad, with the help, for a while, of a Hungarian nun. The book offers a taste of her polyglot perspective, and smart ideas for translating it to a home kitchen.
David Kaplan and his cohorts paved the way for a new wave of craft-cocktailing at their critical East Village mainstay, and this booze compendium sheds light on their most highly sought after creations—including a classic Boulevardier and an original, gin-martini-riffing Joy Division. Beyond the densely-packed pages of cocktails (there are 500 drinks featured), at-home bartenders can geek out over hyperspecific tips on how to stock a home bar, ranging from tools to type of ice.
Drinks titans Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry may be well-known for their innovative graphic novel menus—drinks interspersed with illustrated comics—but this new 100-cocktail tome written with friend Ben Schaffer allows the bar's fans and budding mixologists to replicate the boozy creations. Beyond secret how-to's for the iconic punches, cobblers and cordials, the book traces the Irish duo's meteoric rise starting from their early days at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast through the Dead Rabbit's "World's Best Bar" accolade at this year's Tales of the Cocktail.
Dominique Ansel captured the nation's confectionary imagination with a single fluffy cronut. But beyond the hypestorm of that it-dish, the Paris-trained chef heads up a four-star kitchen and one of the city's most lauded bakeries. In this book, opened with a foreword by fellow toque Daniel Boulud, you'll get a look into Ansel's doughy obsession—there are prose pieces and photographs that showcase the craft—before diving into tough-cookie recipes like that beloved doughnut-croissant hybrid and a puffed-up kouign-amann.
Since 2004, this Carroll Gardens eatery owned by Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo has attracted everyone from families to cool-hunting gourmands and celebrities. In this glossy tome, the restaurant's entire menu is rejiggered into recipe form for the at-home chef. Try your hand at small bites like cremini mushroom and truffled-crostini or main plates like meaty sausage with brown butter and housemade cavatelli pasta. The pages are rife with simple tips and tricks (how to make fresh pasta, how to tie braciola) that will guide even the most novice kitchen hand through each dish.
For more than two decades, Danny Meyer's Gramercy Tavern has symbolized the highest pinnacle of local, farm-to-table cooking and dining. Chef-partner Michael Anthony shares that pioneering ethos here, alongside 125 recipes, a history chronicled by Meyer and photographs offering a look behind the scenes of the storied restaurant, including a section on the iconic floral arrangements by Roberta Bendavid. Flip through the pages for a year's worth of seasonal fare, with summertime chilled zucchini, autumn pole beans and chorizo, and hefty roasted pork for cold-weather months.
What does a superchef like Jean-Georges Vongerichten serve to family and friends on his day off? He cooks the sort of simple, vibrant food you'll find on the menu at his celebrated restaurant ABC Kitchen, and homey dishes from his native Alsace, France. There might be Korean barbecue on the table, too, inspired by his wife, Marja. This handsome book also recounts some of the chef's childhood food memories, including waking to the "smells of choucroute" and earning his nickname, "Palate."
Despite helming one of the most sought after fine dining restaurants in the urban jungle, Eleven Madison Park chef Daniel Humm and general manager Will Guidara take a pastoral point of view for this farm-adventuring cookbook. The duo trekked through 50 New York farms to examine centuries-old agrarian techniques and ingredients—including apples, celery root and foie gras—before concocting 150 original recipes to which they can be applied. Some require time and labor-intensive techniques, but what would an Eleven Madison Park cookbook be without a challenge?
It wasn't a stretch to get even the most high-end toques to contribute to this timely compendium of reinvented comfort foods—it seems everyone's going back to basics these days. The book features top chefs from around the country sharing the backstory on dishes that make them feel good. To wit: Accompanying a recipe for Eric Ripert's lobster croque-monsieur is a moving morsel from the Le Bernardin chef: "It always reminds me of my grandmother."
Prolific toque David Chang joined forces with then New York Times food writer Peter Meehan for this 2009 release that combines both recipes for the cult ramen and a colorful narrative about the three-time James Beard Award winner's path to superstardom, including the trials and tribulations leading to it. The recipes, geared toward more advanced cooks, include dishes from Momofuku, Ssam Bar and Ko. For those reading in 2015, it's a strikingly foretelling story—with Chang's empire continuing to expand its borders to this day.