The Fat Duck Cookbook: A great book by Heston Blumenthal, the chef behind the 3 michelin star Fat Duck restaurant outside of London. It's lavishly illustrated with explanations behind the science and techniques.
Modernist Cuisine: What I'm calling the "bible of molecular gastronomy", this behemoth set of 5 volumes has anything and everything you ever wanted to know about modernist cuisine. It also has in depth explanations of traditional cooking techniques and is quite simply a great resource to learn how to cook good food, period. An essential for the professional.
Modernist Cuisine at Home: A scaled back version of the original Modern Cuisine adapted for the home cook and kitchen. It includes great explanations of the science and technique, but what is most useful is the smaller spiral bound book that includes just the recipes.
Alinea: The debut cookbook by Grant Achatz from Alinea in Chicago, rated the top restaurant in all of America. I was fortunate enough to dine here in 2008 and had the most memorable meal in my lifetime so far. The book contains stunning photography and thoughtful essays from Achatz and other food authors like Jeffrey Steingarten.
Under Pressure: Solid cookbook by Thomas Keller focused around the art and science of sous vide cooking. The recipes are extremely advanced and involved, and while the home cook may not complete entire recipes, great ideas here and there can be borrowed to elevate your cooking.
Eleven Madison Park: The cookbook from the famous Eleven Madison Park in NYC. There are over 125 recipes grouped by seasons. The cookbook is reflective of the restaurant's philosophy - marrying modern culinary techniques with classical French cuisine. The sections towards the end of the book summarizing recipes for purees, sauces, ice creams, sorbets, etc are particularly useful.
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