If you want to teach yourself a skill - read a book.
And don't just read it, write down the points that stand out to you, make a list and put those things into practice. I really believe that a culinary diploma doesn't make a chef, yes it can help you get what you want in the industry a little faster, but knowledge and discipline will make you stand out. I like to find chefs that create things with classic technique so I can perfect the basics, and books written by culinary masters that stretch creativity to new levels.
Anyways, here is a quick list of my current favorites - happy reading!
1. Patisserie - Mastering the art of French Pastry - By Christophe Felder
This book is excellent. It walks you through all of the basics of classic desserts. It covers cookies, cakes, mousses, chocolate work, petite fours, macarons, truffles and all types of creams and fillings. Each recipe is broken down step by step with photos of each process.
Great reference book for both industry professionals and home cooks.
2. Bar Tartine -Techniques and Recipes - By Cortney Burns & Nicolaus Balla
Bar Tartine is the book I grab if I need to add some flair to a dish. There's an entire chapter on how to make different powders from leek ash to bright green spring onion powder. The Author really digs into different preserving methods like pickling, canning, drying and fermenting as well as making flavored oils. The dishes in this book show the application of these methods and how to bring it together on a plate.
3. On Vegetables - Jeremy Fox
With the vegetarian and vegan trend so popular these days I think we owe it to our customers to actually put some effort into making something tasty. For a lot of chefs hearing your allergy table is vegan/vegetarian it can be a challenge to come up with something that's more than just a boring salad or a plate of grilled vegetables. Jeremy fox takes you on an adventure through the garden with punchy flavors and dishes that are both tasty and fun to make. This book actually blew my mind on what I thought about vegetarian cooking, I promise you wont even miss the meat.
4. Atelier Crenn - Metamorphosis of Taste - Dominique Crenn
Did you know Dominique Crenn received her third Michelin star this year? This is the woman that inspires me the most. Her book takes you through her daily routine at the restaurant, starting at 9 am each day and only closing up after the last guest has gone. Her menu is inspired by poetry, each dish complements her writing. Chef Crenn sheds new light on creativity and the use of food as a form of art. If you want to get inspired I highly suggest this book.
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