In today’s food culture, ingredient-focused or “farm-to-table” cuisine has become so commonplace that many young chefs can’t remember a time before it existed. Before the dawn of Instagram, food blogs and YouTube videos, a generation of chefs willed this movement into existence through a series of earth-shattering cookbooks. Those books—most importantly, Cooking the Nouvelle Cuisine in America and the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook—reshaped the culinary landscape and have since paved the way for such famous chefs as Thomas Keller and Mark Ladner.
Other chefs may name other books as the ones that defined their careers, but for the students who ask about my formation as a cook, I always recommend they read these two texts. While it’s important to stay up-to-date on modern trends in food, learning about the roots of contemporary American cooking can both further young chefs’ understanding of current kitchen culture and spark their personal creativity.
Read on to learn more about California cuisine and the "American culinary revolution."