Back-to-Culinary-School Recommended Reading

We all remember the dreaded summer reading list while growing up—a sure way to interrupt your plans at the beach, pool or park! But now, doesn’t the change in season start to get inspiring? How about a different kind of recommended reading list; one that will actually prepare you for a culinary career? Here are our top three picks from the ICC Library so you will be ready to get in the kitchen and pursue your culinary education!

Letters to a Young Chef

Our number one top most requested book of all time is the slim volume by Daniel Boulud – Letters to a Young Chef. While the highly regarded Michelin-starred chef could easily have penned another glossy cookbook or your standard memoir he instead wrote a series of short, accessible essays filled with incredibly practical advice, indispensable to anyone who wants to work in a kitchen. From taste to ego to life after restaurants, Chef Boulud has condensed his years of knowledge into a fun and easy to read book. Pick this up if you want a quick and inspiring overview of the life of a chef.

The Flavor Bible

While the student favorite may be Boulud, our Chef Instructors undoubtedly have a favorite as well! The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg is recommended by nearly every instructor here from Chef Ben to Chef Jose to Chef Natalia! Why? It covers literally every flavor – sorted in a wide range of different ways. If you find a beautiful piece of striped bass but aren’t sure how you want to season it, flip to the ingredient guide to see multiple styles, some you may have never tried before. Likewise, if you are interested in learning how to cook a new style of cuisine, just turn to that section and find a full list of commonly used ingredients and flavor affinities. The entire book is interspersed with flavor advice and inspiration from well known chefs. Warning – after borrowing once from the library you may end up making the purchase and giving this essential guide permanent real estate on your kitchen counter!

The Third Plate

Meanwhile, if you are interested in the future of food and taking a deep dive into sustainability, food origins and the farm to table movement, look no further than the excellent book by our alumni Dan Barber, The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. If you have ever wondered how Blue Hill came to be so highly regarded and successful, this book will give you some insight into Chef Barber’s philosophy in both the farm and the kitchen. Divided into soil, land, sea and seed, Chef goes through the history of agriculture, how it is changing and why it must change. If this sounds like a dry read, it is definitely not! Chef Barber is a brilliant writer who finds incredible characters and interesting stories to illustrate all his concepts.

All of these books and many more are available in the ICC Library! Students & Alumni are welcome to stop by to borrow a copy and see what else is new.