Connection: Cookbooks can be a fun way to interact with chefs that you might not (and probably don’t) otherwise have a chance to meet. Restaurants are expensive, they’re scattered across the world, and a lot of times the celebrity chefs that we know and love from tv/books/etc. aren’t even there. They’re running their businesses and making public appearances, not chopping garlic. Which I totally get but it sucks when you’re a fan who wants to connect with the person you admire. Enter the cookbook. They can offer a glimpse into the lives of these chefs, their style of cooking and manner of living.
Instruction: The best cookbooks will teach you not just to follow a certain recipe, but also to put a dish together on your own. They’ll go into the science behind the cooking, how to tell when the ingredient is done cooking, or what kinds of flavors go well together. Also: delicious recipes!
Inspiration: Cookbooks can offer a spring board to your own creative enterprises. When brainstorming for dinner, I’ll browse my book collection for ideas. You can also tweak recipes to suit your own preferences (this aspect of cookbook owning is actually really fun--I love thinking of ways to improve something).
But in addition to cookbooks, I also love books by chefs that aren't cookbooks, books by people who aren't chefs about food, and books in general. For the purposes of this blog, I'll stick to the former categories and talk about those individual tomes that I feel are worth sharing.