"Have You Hugged Your Baker Today?"

First Cookbooks

Do you ever wonder where a chef’s passion comes from?  Is he born with it?  Is it passed down from her mother’s apron strings?  Or was it from sheer necessity of having a mother who can’t boil water?  I polled a few of our chef’s to learn about the first cookbook or recipe that launched their culinary career:

Dan Blumenthal:

It should come as no surprise to learn that Dan pulled Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking from his family’s collection for his first read.  But I had to dig a little deeper to find the first recipe that spoke to him.  The answer: He found inspiration in the pages of Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin and Tsui Feng Lin which taught him to how to build layers of flavor in Hot Pepper Chicken.

Payton Warren:

Payton started cooking from an early age.  He can’t say for sure, but odds are he turned to the back of a Campbell’s Soup Can for an Asian Beef and Broccoli.  And while his family did not have a culinary library, he does remember flipping through a Better Home and Gardens annual.

Aven Whittington:

Although not a chef, Aven authors his culinary events with a knowledge of food that stems from pure curiosity, a little time on the line and hometown pride.  Aven leaned on Jacques Pepin’s La Technique for step-by-step pictorials on everything from how to chop an onion to how to truss a chicken.  But he says, “I have soft place in my heart for the New York Times cookbook by Craig Claiborne because he comes from my home town of Greenwood.”

<em>New York Times Cookbook</em> [Hardcover]