Professionals of all disciplines study, and chefs are no different, using cookbooks and culinary tomes for reference, information and inspiration. Take chef Peter Find of Hong Kong restaurant Heimat. The German native owns more than 800 cookbooks spanning a wide spectrum of cuisines and courses, which he has organised by colour in his home in Hong Kong, serving not only as inspiration by as a talking point for guests.
We spoke to Find and others chefs across Asia whose focus runs the gamut of international cuisines to find out which tomes have influenced the way they cook, and what books—long renowned or recently released—they would recommend to both budding chefs and seasoned professionals. From mastering the fundamentals, to specialising in specific cuisines, to taking your cooking to new heights, these are the food books beloved by some of the best in the food business.
Stephanie Wong, chef-founder, Roots Eatery, Hong Kong
Which cookbooks or food titles have been a constant go-to as a source of knowledge and/or inspiration?
Susur by Susur Lee and Frantzén by Björn Frantzen are two of my favourite books. Susur was introduced to me by a dear friend and chef mentor and is an incredibly amazing book because Lee was doing French x Chinese cuisine in the 1990s, back when fusion was not a thing! It really paved the way on how far the two cuisines could be intertwined and re-interpreted and is a constant inspiration for me to dig deeper into my “roots”.
Bjorn Frantzén is extra special because I discovered him during an Amber Hong Kong pop-up in 2013 in my banking days, when I didn’t know much about the cooking world. Frantzén really set the tone of how dining can be fine yet approachable but with intense, memorable and unique flavours.
Which books have changed the way you think about food or your approach to cooking?
The Daniel Humm and Will Guidara books. I Love New York and Eleven Madison Park were my earlier purchases and that’s where I learned how to make French sauces even before going to Paris! I Love New York is particularly memorable because it focuses so much on “local produce”, to know your farmers/suppliers and how to re-apply in classic yet modern dishes. That local concept really resonated with me in how most Chinese eat locally, via buying from wet markets.
Which food books would you recommend?
The Art of the Restaurateur by Nicolas Lander, The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, The Latin American Cookbook by Virgilio Martinez, and Portugal: The Cookbook by Leandro Carreira. The Art of Restaurateur and The Flavour Thesaurus are more knowledge-based and are great as building blocks, while the latter two country cuisine books are lesser featured cuisines that have so much history, depth and uniqueness to them.