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For your gift inspiration: local chefs’ favorite cookbooks


Cookbooks make great gifts, whether they’re eye candy for armchair cooks or a vital resource for serious ones.

For inspiration, we’ve asked local chefs — a baker’s dozen of them — to recommend their favorite cookbooks and to tell us why. Here’s what they had to say.

Abra Berens, Granor Farm

“For the Table” by Anna Stockwell (Harry N. Abrams)“Anna Stockwell is one of the smartest voices in the room and she has translated those smarts to easy to understand and deliciously inspiring recipes.”

Warda Bouguettaya, Warda Patisserie“Falastin” by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley (Ten Speed Press)My favorite cookbook of the moment is “Falastin.” The dishes are divine and look gorgeous, but what makes this cookbook a must are the stories and rich heritage of Palestinian cuisine told through the lens of Tamimi.”

Rodger Bowser, Zingerman’s Delicatessen“Ruffage” by Abra Berens (Chronicle Books)“Some might say I'm a bit biased because Abra used to work in the Deli kitchen with me, but I think she did a really great job in this book of coming up with recipes for vegetables that most people don't usually cook with. It's a great book!

Joe Giacomino: Grey Ghost, Basan, Second Best“The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie: Recipes, Techniques, and Wisdom from the Hoosier Mama Pie Company” by Paula Haney and Allison Scott (Agate Midway)“I discovered this pie shop close to my old neighborhood in Chicago. Upon leaving Chicago and moving to Detroit to open Grey Ghost, I brought a copy to my new home. I often reference it for pie inspiration on a Sunday afternoon.”

Ederique Goudia; Make Food Not Waste, Taste the Diaspora, In the Business of Food“The Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou” by Melissa M. Martin (Artisan)“For anyone interested in a less traditional holiday meal, I highly suggest ‘The Mosquito Supper Club.’ Not only is it filled with delicious Cajun recipes, it gives a beautiful look into Cajun history, life and tradition and the foodways of those living in south Louisiana. This cookbook includes recipes that are considered traditional holiday fare for us south Louisianians, like rice dressing, pecan pie and gumbo."

Maxcel Hardy; Jed’s Detroit, Coop Detroit“Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen” by Jon Gray, Pierre Serrao and Lester Walker, with Osayi Endolyn (Artisan)“This book was named one of the “Best Cookbook of 2022” by Barnes & Noble. This is more than a cookbook; it's a celebration of the Black diaspora and our connection to the food we love. I love that the book highlights art, interviews and amazing recipes. This cookbook tells a story while introducing you to a new world in your own kitchen.”

Doug Hewitt Jr., Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails“The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux” by Paul Virant and Kate Leahy (Ten Speed Press)“A great book for any home cook who would love to dive into the art of pickling and preserving the harvest of the Midwest. A great way to enjoy local ingredients year-round.”

Chef Ji Hye Kim, Miss Kim“Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home” by Eric Kim (Clarkson Potter)“This book is full of smart and charming recipes, as well as wonderful essays that share insight into Korean American food and families. This is a great book for a cook newly exploring Korean food. The recipes are friendly, both with technique and pantry, without sacrificing flavor. It is a great snapshot of how a Korean American would be cooking and eating, sometimes finding an easy workaround for a complicated Korean dish (like sheet-pan bibimbap) and sometimes introducing the Korean pantry to American classics (e.g., gochugaru shrimp and grits). The beautifully written essays provide context for the recipes that will only enhance the cooking and eating pleasure. Love this book!”

Anthony Lombardo; SheWolf Pastificio & Bar“The Sopranos Family Cookbook” by Artie Bucco and Allen Rucker (Grand Central Publishing)“Great Italian American classics!”

Kiki Louya, Chef/Activist“Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora Reem Assil (Ten Speed Press)“My favorite cookbook of this year has been “Arabiyya” by Reem Assil because it’s more than just a collection of recipes. Inspired by Reem’s own Syrian and Palestinian heritage, “Arabiyya” also shares stories of exile and activism within the Arab diaspora. Through food comes togetherness, and, in “Arabiyya,” it is also the nexus for social change.

James Rigato, Mabel Gray“Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials” by Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, et al. (Clarkson Potter)“Written by a husband-wife duo. They operate Don Angie in New York City, one of my favorite restaurants in the country. Delicious and easy-to-duplicate recipes celebrating Italian American food history. Fantastic cookbook!”

Amanda Saab, Amanda’s Plate“Bravetart” by Stella Parks (W.W. Norton & Co.)“My all-time fave is 'Bravetart.' This has more complicated recipes of all-American favorites. My favorite is the Oreo recipe."

Sarah Welch, Marrow“The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs” by Andrew Dornenburg (Little Brown and Co.)“It’s an awesome reference for when you have ingredients to use and no real idea of what to pair with them.”