Great Chefs & Cooks
Ina Garten—Every single recipe I have ever made from her cookbooks has turned out well. I own all of her cookbooks, but my favorite remains to be the original Barefoot Contessa. If I had a patronas, it would be Ina Garten—instead of scaring off the dementors, it would feed them delicious food and send them away happy and satisfied, never to attemp the sucking of human souls ever again.
Ree Drummond—I love all of the Pioneer Woman cookbooks. The recipes are easy to follow, always flavorful, and the ingredients are easy to come by. I have yet to find a recipe that has failed. My only complaint is her heavy handed use of cilantro…cilantro is gross.
Jamie Deen—I love southern cooking. I love accessible ingredients. I love simple and satisfying recipes. Jamie Deen is a great cook, just like his mama, but his recipes are slightly more modern and a bit healthier. If you do not have a copy of his cookbook, Jamie Deen’s Good Food, I highly recommend buying one. I have found so many terrific recipes in its pages.
Giada deLaurentis—I hemmed and hawed over including her on this list. I LOVE her first two cookbooks, Everyday Italian and Everyday Pasta, and have found so many all-time favorite recipes within them. However, her later cookbooks are a hit or miss for me. Some of the flavor combinations she presents are just bizarre, but I’m not really into the kind of California cuisine into which she has evolved.
Nigella Lawson—Reading her cookbooks is beyond entertaining and almost always makes me hungry. My favorite cookbook is Nigella Christmas. I use so many recipes year-round, not just for the holidays.
Jamie Oliver—Jamie’s Food Revolution is a fantastic cookbook for beginners. I keep returning to it every time I need a simple, wholesome meal.
Gina & Patrick Neely—It really is a shame that they got divorced and no longer produce joint cookbooks together. I love their down-home style of southern cuisine. Their recipe for coleslaw is the best I’ve ever found. You can’t go wrong with any of their cookbooks.
Deb Pearlman—Her first cookbook, Smitten Kitchen, is excellent. The jury is still out on her second, as I have yet to try any recipes provided.
Jacques Pepin—He is incredibly talented, not just in the kitchen, but as an artist. His cookbooks are as beautiful to look at as they are informative. Plus, he’s adorable.
Julia Child—All hail the culinary goddess supreme! If I need to explain this to you, get the hell off my website.
Paula Deen—She may be controversial, but she’s a damn good cook. On a recent visit to Savannah, I picked up a copy of her most recent cookbook, At the Southern Table with Paula Deen, which has so many delicious recipes. One thing I don’t like, however, is many of her recipes are repeated throughout her cookbooks.
Chrissy Teigen—A supermodel who cooks? And eats? Hell, yes! Her cookbook, Cravings, is for real. Every single recipe is a grand slam home run. I think her Thai recipes may help me conquer my fear of preparing Asian food (I love her chicken lettuce wraps!). And for the record, her macaroni and cheese recipe is the best. Period. I am so excited for her second cookbook coming out this September.
Lucinda Scala Quinn—I debated whether or not to put her on this list for one simple, petty reason: She comes across as an arrogant food snob in some of her recipe commentary. It bugs the crap out of me that she mocks people who like hard-shell tacos, and her anecdote about chastising her son because he used jarred pesto instead of making his own is beyond obnoxious. With that being said, her recipes are pretty damn good. I have found some great ones is all three of her Mad Hungry cookbooks.
Martha Stewart—I go back and forth with her. I love her Everyday Food cookbooks, but I often find that the recipes in her magazine are too complicated with too many expensive or uncommon ingredients.
The Very Best Cookbooks