The dill and parmesan crayfish featured in Viva Magazine Volume One. Photo / Babiche Martens

The Cookbooks Everyone Should Own, According To 21 Top Chefs

These tomes stand in hardcover in the homes of some of New Zealand's best cooks

Atelier Crenn: Metamorphosis of Taste by Dominique Crenn
“My favourite cookbook at the moment is Atelier Crenn: Metamorphosis of Taste by Dominique Crenn, who is a 3 Michelin-starred chef in San Francisco. Her work is exquisite but her cooking is thoughtful and approachable. Recently, I started a project with my restaurant teams where I purchased them all a book that they have to cook one element from each week and present it to the team — the idea being that we will learn from the greats around the globe, not by final dishes that they make but by elements, which show their different approaches to cooking and techniques.” — Nick Honeyman, Paris Butter

Brindisa: The True Food of Spain by Monika Linton
“[My] favourite cookbook (for today, anyway) is Brindisa: The True Food of Spain by Monika Linton. It's definitive in terms of Spanish cuisine, from classic regional dishes to more modern expressions. It's not just recipes, but history, techniques, ingredients and context, as well as beautiful images photographed by New Zealand export Pippa Drummond.” Dariush Lolaiy, Cazador

Chicken and Charcoal: Yakitori, Yardbird, Hong Kong by Matt Abergel
“A vivid cookbook on my favourite meat and ways of cooking over hot embers. Yardbird is where I trained and has had a huge impact on my career as a cook. The book contains signature recipes with detailed explanations of how they source, butcher and cook the birds with no need for fancy equipment. Fire up the grill and enjoy. This book will appeal to home cooks and many professional chefs alike.” — John Yip, Omni

East Meets Vegan: The Best of Asian Home Cooking, Plant-Based and Delicious by Sasha Gill
“There are a few books that I like to refer to for insight and inspiration, but a must-read book, for me, given East is pan-Asian vegetarian, is East Meets Vegan: The Best of Asian Home Cooking, Plant-Based and Delicious by Sasha Gill. It’s a wonderful cookbook for the bright, bold flavours of Asian cuisine without any animal products.” — Harmeet Singh Nanda, East

Eating Well Everyday by Peter Gordon
"I’m possibly a bit biased but I really do use Peter Gordon’s Eating Well Everyday cookbook a lot. We’ve always had a similar style of cooking and I love how it brings restaurant flavours into simple everyday recipes people can cook at home. In fact, the current Zimbabwe squash dish we have on the menu at Homeland is inspired by his baked eggplant recipe. In the book it’s stuffed with lamb and mozzarella, but in the restaurant we put mushrooms, buffalo feta, spinach and pumpkin seeds, and people seem to love it.”  — Naga Sunkara, Homeland

Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara
“I was blown away when I first read Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara and it’s still one I refer to regularly to this day. The cookbook is a tribute to the acclaimed New York restaurant, and I remember first flicking through it 10 years ago and thinking it was absolute perfection with its interesting, sophisticated recipes. Although the presentation of the dishes is not something I really follow these days in our Nourish Group restaurants, it’s inspiring and helpful to have this catalogue of flavour combinations and textures as a point of reference.” — Gareth Stewart, Nourish Group restaurants including Euro, Andiamo, Jervois Steak House, Pravda, Shed 5

Finding Fire: Cooking at its Most Elemental by Lennox Hastie
"Inspired after eating at Firedoor in Sydney, I bought chef Lennox Hastie's cookbook Finding Fire. There is something primal and unique about going back to the most basic ways to cook but it’s also quite complex to master cooking on the open flame. A lot of the recipes are tweaked in the book to suit the home cook and I can’t wait to try some out with our 10-year-old daughter, Zoya, who was my dining companion when we first went to Firedoor." — Sid Sahrawat, Cassia, Sidart, Sid at the French Cafe

Italian Food by Elizabeth David
"I love this book as it was written in 1954 through the eyes of someone who was not only interested in the food, but the people, the origins of the recipes, seasonality and the necessity of food. It exposes a deep and rich culture that makes Italian food what it is today. I was lucky enough to read this book while in Puglia picking olives a few years ago and it has inspired me ever since." — Jonathan Thevenard, Pici

Larder by Robin Gill
"I love this cookbook. The recipes are based around age-old techniques, from curing to smoking and fermentation. These clever preparations like vegan kimchi, goose ham and bread miso are a must for any passionate cook. You get a real sense of farm-to-table and provenance, and there's zero-waste throughout. These ideas and practices are more important than ever before, and what I really love is that I can adapt these recipes with my own personal style." — Gavin Doyle, Soul Bar and Bistro

Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking by Fergus Henderson
Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson shows you how to use every part of an animal and minimise waste. It gives new respect to the product, and as a chef, provides a new challenge to make the best of what is generally considered a less-than-desirable cut." — Jason Kim, Gochu

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee
“Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking teaches you how and why things happen when cooking. It's a very beneficial book for cooks wanting to come up with their own recipes or improve family recipes as it helps you become a better cook by understanding how to select the best ingredients, how to work with ingredients better and what techniques achieve what results and why. It's home cook-friendly kitchen science.” — Ed Verner, Pasture

On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox
“My number one cookbook is On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox. The book really celebrates and nurtures vegetables, highlighting that eating and sourcing locally and seasonally is the best way to go. I take ideas and methods from different recipes and apply them with what vegetables we have in season here.” — Anna Weir, Daphnes

Ostro by Julia Busuttil Nishimura
“This is a wonderful, homely cookbook by Julia Busuttil Nishimura. On our days off I enjoy cooking simple food that is comforting and generous in spirit, with lots of vegetables and protein to keep our diet in check. It’s a great, uncomplicated cookbook that brings together a broad range of cuisines and culinary influences using seasonal produce. I love how Julia clearly explains the processes of her recipes. My go-to book when hosting friends over for long dinners.” — Jamie Yeon, Omni

Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition by Gerald Hirigoyen
“I love the simplicity of Gerald Hirigoyen’s Pintxos and how the ingredients are easy to source in Aotearoa. It's not really about cooking but putting things together; it's more of an idea-sparker than a recipe book. You'll find small but impressive flavours and combinations from finger food to sharing plates for parties. This cookbook is perfect for the lazy cook with great taste and little time.” — Matt Ross, Candela

The Cook’s Companion: The Complete Book of Ingredients and Recipes by Stephanie Alexander
“Stephanie Alexander's The Cook’s Companion is a terrific reference book for everything from artichokes to walnuts and probably a few x, y, and z’s too. When I moved to Melbourne in 1981, Stephanie was the queen of restaurants in many ways and she has continued to showcase produce in Australia. She’s a lovely woman and is always keen to share her knowledge, and this book is a contemporary encyclopaedia of all things edible.” — Peter Gordon, Homeland

The Flavour Thesaurus: Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook by Niki Segnit
“This is the food book I pick up more than anything else. It’s a staple for anyone who enjoys cooking, full of useful and creative flavour combinations and ideas. It turns what could have been a dense, information-heavy book into a humorous, engaging read.” — Johnny Price, Ada

The Great New Zealand Baking Book: All the Favourites We Know and Love from Sixty of Our Finest Bakers
“The essential cookbook in my home is The Great New Zealand Baking Book. My wife and I have 3 kids aged 6-11, and we basically use this book every weekend for baking. The recipes are simple and they work; it's the modern Edmonds Cookery Book. The book is fun, the kids really enjoy reading the recipes and weighing off ingredients; it’s perfect for getting kids into cooking. The book is used so much at home that the spine is broken. My wife, Cara, and I both have recipes in there (unbiased recommendation, of course) but the funny thing is we never cook our recipes anymore because the other ones in there are just too good.” — Ben Bayly, Ahi

The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook by Danny Bowien and Chris Ying
“One of my favourite dining experiences in New York was at Danny Bowien's Mission Chinese in the Lower East Side. When The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook by Danny Bowien and Chris Ying was released I made every single recipe in it, from his mouth-numbing chicken wings and mapo tofu, to all the addictive dressings you stumble upon in most dishes. This book is full of the tastiest, most insanely flavour-packed, dangerously addictive dishes you are ever likely to find, while also telling a story about a chef doing everything wrong and it ending up brilliantly right. Thank me later.” — Elie Assaf, Williams Eatery

The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
“My [go-to book] is The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It was first published in the late 90s and was well ahead of its time. Now a true classic for any home kitchen, what I find special about this book is how Deborah’s intimate understanding of vegetables is articulated through a playful and descriptive choice of words.” — Tom Hishon, Kingi, Orphans Kitchen, Daily Bread

Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
“My favourite recipe book at the moment is called Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. This book is like a bible for cooking and baking with the 12 families from the edible plant kingdom. Not only does it gift us an enormous array of gorgeous recipes (over 300 in fact), but it also contains in-depth yet easy-to-digest information about a lot of the ingredients used. Deborah's recipes are straightforward and unfussy, but truly delicious. I've made a bunch of salads from this book (and I've used some of the dressing recipes over and over) as well as the chickpea and tomato soup with garlic-rubbed bread and beet greens, and the anise shortbreads with orange flower water — all were a great success!” — Jordan Rondel, The Caker

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook oeuvre
“Anything by Yotam Ottolenghi is a must-have. The only serious cooking I do at home is during summer on my trusty Everdure BBQ. Protein choice comes pretty easily to me, but when it comes to the side dishes, flicking through Yotam's Plenty or Ottolenghi: The Cookbook always inspires a fresh take on grilled and roast vege.” — Kyle Street, Culprit

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