The Chef's Library: Michael Voltaggio + Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
When he answers the phone, Michael Voltaggio is somewhere on the East Coast, cooking at an event with chefs from all over the world. You can hear the clash and chaos of the kitchen in the background, and Voltaggio shouts out: "Hey guys! What's the name of that book? The one with all the charts, and you can look up an ingredient and it'll tell you all the flavors that go with it?" He pauses for a second, then says "Culinary Artistry! That's it!"
Voltaggio says the book, written by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, served as inspiration to him as an up and coming chef, because it gave a number of options for flavor combinations for all kinds of ingredients. "It's full of charts, and it has famous chefs' recipes in it. It lists ingredients and gives you possibilities for other flavors that go with those ingredients. And it tells you how these chefs think about ingredients."
Another watershed book for Voltaggio was The French Laundry Cookbook. "I think it changed cookbooks. It changed the way everyone thought about food. I think it's become the most important cookbook of a generation."
And of course, a shout out for the old school: "I love my old copy of The Joy Of Cooking. [Irma S Rombauer] was doing cooking that was really modern -- she was so far ahead of her time."
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