The Truffle Underground
Hunters plant poisoned meatballs to eliminate rival truffle-hunting dogs. Farmers patrol their fields with rifles and fear losing trade secrets to spies. Naive buyers and even knowledgeable experts are duped by liars and counterfeits. Beneath the gloss of star chefs and crystal-laden tables, the truffle supply chain is touched by theft, secrecy, sabotage, and fraud. Deeply reported and elegantly written, The Truffle Underground is a page-turning exposé that documents the dark, sometimes deadly crimes at each level of the truffle’s path from ground to plate, digging deep into an industry that traffics in scarcity, seduction, and cash. Through it all, a question lingers: What, other than money, draws people to these dirt-covered jewels?
Save Me the Plums
A New York Times Bestseller, Save Me the Plums is the memoir of Ruth Reichl, the trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic, who took the job (and the risk) of a lifetime when she entered the high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as Editor-in-chief of Gourmet. Readers will meet legendary chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert, idiosyncratic writers like David Foster Wallace, and a colorful group of editors and art directors who, under Reichl’s leadership, transformed stately Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication in the golden age of print media—the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.
Notes from a Young Black Chef
Kwame Onwuachi has lived many lives. He was raised in four cities on two continents. He had launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars that he made from selling candy on the subway, yet he’d been told he would never make it on television because his cooking wasn’t “Southern” enough. And by the time he was twenty-seven, he’d opened—and closed—one of the most talked-about restaurants in America. Now, in Notes From a Young Black Chef, an inspiring memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, Onwuachi shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age, from leaving the Bronx for rural Nigeria, to competing on Top Chef, to becoming the James Beard Award-winning executive chef at Kith/Kin and owner of the Philly Wing Fry franchise in Washington, D.C.
An off-road search for the perfect taco in the Yucatán peninsula. Foraging for sea rocket and sandpaper figs on Sydney’s beaches. And, in the Arctic Circle, a tour of a lone fisherman’s secret cache of possibly the world’s finest sea urchins. In Hungry, food critic Jeff Gordinier chronicles four years spent traveling with René Redzepi, the renowned chef of Noma, called the best restaurant in the world, in search of the most tantalizing flavors Earth has to offer. Hungry is a memoir, a travelogue, a portrait of a chef, and a chronicle of the moment when daredevil cooking became the most exciting and groundbreaking form of artistry.
An acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford leaves his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by Mario Batali. Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade, before journeying further afield, to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor.
From the Booker Prize-nominated author of Three Strong Women comes an elegant, hypnotic new novel about a legendary French female chef–the facts of her life, the nearly ineffable qualities of her cooking, and the obsessive, sometimes destructive desire for purity of taste and experience that shaped her. Told from the perspective of her former assistant (and unrequited lover), now an aged chef himself, here is the story of a woman’s quest to the front of the kitchen—and the extraordinary journey she takes along the way.
Blood, Bones & Butter
You’ll travel with Gabrielle Hamilton to the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand. You’ll inhale the fragrances of the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where Hamilton was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality. You’ll visit the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family. And finally, you’ll arrive in her own kitchen at Prune, the acclaimed NYC restaurant she opened. A New York Times bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book, Blood, Bones & Butter is one chef’s unconventional journey through her life’s many kitchens and adventures.
Burn the Ice
Traditional ramen shops opened in Oklahoma City. Craft cocktail speakeasies appeared in Boise. Poke bowls sprung up in Omaha. Entire neighborhoods, like Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and cities like Austin, were suddenly unrecognizable to long-term residents, their names becoming shorthand for the so-called hipster movement. It seemed, for a moment, like a glorious renaissance of eating and drinking in America. And then it was over. In Burn the Ice, James Beard Award-winning food journalist Kevin Alexander traces an exhilarating golden age in American dining, telling a story that’s at once timeless and cutting-edge, about unbridled creativity and ravenous ambition.
After parting ways with a new job, a new city, and a long-term relationship in the span of a year, Camas Davis found herself unemployed, single, and existentially lost. So when a friend told her about an American woman living in Gascony, France who ran a cooking school and took in strays in exchange for painting fences and making beds, it sounded like just what Camas needed. Upon her arrival, she met a family of Gascon pig farmers and butchers, who were willing to take Camas under their wing, inviting her to work alongside them in their slaughterhouse and cutting room. In the process, they inducted her into their way of life, which prizes pleasure, compassion, community, and authenticity, forcing Camas to question everything she’d believed about life, death, and dinner.
The Best Cook in the World
Part cookbook, part memoir, The Best Cook in the World is Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg’s tribute to the South, his family and, especially, to his extraordinary mother. This New York Times bestseller is brimming with irresistible stories and recipes from across generations. They come, skillet by skillet, from Bragg’s ancestors, from feasts and near famine, from funerals and celebrations, and from a thousand tales of family lore as rich and as sumptuous as the dishes they inspired. Deeply personal and unfailingly mouthwatering, The Best Cook in the World is a book to be savored.
Ritz and Escoffier
In a tale replete with scandal and opulence, Luke Barr, author of the New York Times-bestselling Provence, 1970, transports readers to turn-of-the-century London and Paris to discover how celebrated hotelier César Ritz (yes, that Ritz) and famed chef Auguste Escoffier joined forces at the Savoy Hotel to spawn the modern luxury hotel and restaurant, signaling a new social order and the rise of the middle class. Barr deftly re-creates the thrilling Belle Epoque era just before World War I, when British aristocracy was at its peak, women began dining out unaccompanied by men, and American nouveaux riches and gauche industrialists convened in London to show off their wealth. Fine dining would never be the same—or more intriguing.
Looking for a book to savor? Then feast your eyes on this list of new and delicious titles. On the menu: An investigation of the (literally) underground (and underhanded) world of truffle trafficking. The trials and triumphs of an underestimated, overachieving chef prodigy. A global quest for the world’s most wondrous flavors. And more! We’re serving up everything from culinary exposés to memoirs to mysteries. Sure, some of them have recipes–but each of these food books is far from a cookbook. Dig in.
Featured Image: Kwame Onwuachi on Top Chef