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The Best Cookbooks of the Year

Janice B., Librarian,
7 of the award winning books

The International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Awards honor authors, publishers, and other contributors behind the best cookbooks published each year. Awards were presented in a variety of categories at an annual conference on February 26, 2018.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking may sound unappetizing, but not to the judges of this year’s IACP cookbook contest. Samin Nosrat’s publication won three awards: Cookbook of the Year, the Julia Child First Book Award, and the award for American cuisine. While cooking at the Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, CA, Nosrat realized that salt, fat, acid, and heat are the fundamental elements to good food. She encourages readers to use their own senses and judgment more so than measuring cups to create the best taste, texture, and tanginess.

The Baking Award was presented to Candy Is Magic: Real Ingredients by Jami Curl. Written by the owner of a Portland, Oregon candy company, this cookbook offers flavorful recipes requiring no expensive equipment, and also presents instructions for party decorations and ornaments.

The Chefs & Restaurants award was presented to Cheers to the Publican, Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall by Paul Kahan and Cosmo Goss with Rachel Holtzman. Photos, recipes, and storytelling are provided by an acclaimed Chicago chef.

Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake! by Deanna F. Cook, won the award for Children, Youth & Family. Designed for children ages 8-12, this cookbook gives step by step instructions with photos for baking both sweet and savory treats.

The Compilations award was presented to The Blue Apron Cookbook: 165 Essential Recipes and Lessons for a Lifetime of Home Cooking by the Blue Apron Culinary Team. The well-known meal-delivery service offers 165 simple, delicious and original recipes.

The Culinary Travel award was presented to Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar by Michael Harlan Turkell. This cookbook presents recipes featuring vinegar from leading chefs in North America, France, Italy, Austria, and Japan.

Scraps, Wilt & Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty by Mads Refslund won the award for Food Matters. The author, a Danish restaurateur, presents recipes using scraps from vegetables, fruits, and animal protein, making use of food that would otherwise go to waste.

The plain covers notwithstanding, Karen Mordechai’s Simple Fare: Spring and Summer and Simple Fare: Fall and Winter, won the award for Food Photography & Styling. The seasonal recipes are depicted with outstanding photographs by the author.

Mordechai, Karen, author, photographer.

Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark, won the General award, which is presented for multiple-subject cookbooks, including all-purpose cookbooks, personal recipe collections, and books that reach a general audience.

Another Portland, Oregon chef was honored, this time with the Health & Special Diet award. Recipes for every meal of the day are presented in The Book of Greens: A Cook's Compendium of 40 Varieties, from Arugula to Watercress, with More than 175 Recipes by Jenn Louis and Kathleen Squires.

The International award was presented to King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World, which includes more than 170 recipes from Israel to Italy to India and beyond. Author Joan Nathan is an award winning authority on Jewish cooking.

Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life by Emily Kaiser Thelin won the award for Literary Food Writing. This is a biographical cookbook about a legendary food authority, and it includes more than 50 of her best recipes.

The Reference & Technical award was given to Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums That Forever Changed Flavor by Maricel E. Presilla. This visual reference includes health benefits of nearly 200 varieties of peppers and also includes 40 pan-Latin recipes.

The Single Subject award was presented to a work on a perennial favorite topic. Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop by Dana Cree presents over 100 recipes and also explains the science behind how air and sugars affect texture and flavor.

The Design Award is given to books with special layout and typography. F*ck, That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well by Action Bronson is a rapper’s guide to food, chefs, food makers, regions, neighborhoods, and restaurants.

The Jane Grigson Award is presented for distinguished scholarship in the quality of research and presentation. The winner—Modernist Bread by Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya — includes history, bread from around the world, techniques, and recipes.

Myhrvold, Nathan, author, photographer.

Peter Liem’s Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region won the Wine, Beer & Spirits award. Liem, an American who lives in Champagne, France, takes the reader on a “lazy balloon ride over the whole Champagne landscape, all of its hill and vineyards, and the wonderful people who work them.”

The Cookbook People’s Choice award was presented to Barton Seaver for American Seafood: Heritage, Culture & Cookery from Sea to Shining Sea. This award was determined by popular vote from among finalists in each award category.

In addition to awards for recently published cookbooks, the IACP presents Culinary Classics awards to honor books that have been published at least five years ago, but no earlier than 1945. These titles have significantly altered the way we think about food and contributed to the field of culinary literature. The 2018 recipients follow:

Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells is a 1989 publication on French cooking.

Wells, Patricia.

Leah Chase’s The Dooky Chase Cookbook from 1990, presents creole cooking from her restaurant which became a meeting place for music and entertainment, civil rights, and culture in New Orleans.

The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries De Groot is also about French cooking and was published in 1973.

Irene Kuo’s The Key to Chinese Cooking was published in 1977.

The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, was published in 1992. For more than twenty years, the author hosted the American Public Media program, The Splendid Table. In regard to this book she states, “Ask an Italian where to take only one meal in Italy, and, after recommending his mother’s house, he will more than likely send you to Emilia-Romagna.”