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Be a Chef

By Mike Smoody

To cook is to be human. In Michael Pollan's book listed below, you'll learn that our big brains may be the result of eating cooked food. So feed that big brain of yours and start cooking. In this list you'll find plenty of advice on how to cook and why; inspiration and entertaining tales from some of the world's top chefs; and most important of all, the pleasure of cooking in a great selection of movies and novels that will whet your appetite and warm your soul.

  • How to Cook Everything : 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food

    2008 by Mark Bittman

    He's not kidding. In this comprehensive, easy-to-read cookbook, esteemed chef Mark Bittman teaches the fundamentals. He anticipates your every question and quells your every fear in this straightforward, conversational and absolutely essential cookbook.

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  • Blue Plate Special : An Autobiography of My Appetites

    2013 by Kate Christensen

    Book lovers and food lovers will appreciate Christensen's memoir which tastefully pairs her love of writing and food. Set within the context of a troubled childhood and the changing social landscape of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Blue Plate Special is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, but it will leave you stronger in both.

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  • East Side Sushi

    2016 by Anthony Lucero

    In this inspirational film, Diana Elizabeth Torres shines as Juana, a Mexican-American single mother who aspires to be a sushi chef. Against race, gender, and cultural obstacles, Juana strives to achieve her slice of the American dream.

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  • Cooked : A Natural History of Transformation

    2013 by Michael Pollan

    Popular food journalist Michael Pollan writes another rousing defense of home cooked meals. His message is clear—to cook is to be human. Not only has cooking had a lasting evolutionary impact on our species, Pollan argues it can also transform our lives for the better.

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  • Melissa's 50 Best Plants on the Planet : The Most Nutrient-Dense Fruits and Vegetables, in 150 Recipes

    2013 by Cathy Thomas

    Of course eating isn't all about pleasure, we want to be healthy too! Cathy Thomas's guide to the most nutritious plants is written for the beginner and contains many helpful hints, e.g. snap peas support heart health and kiwis aid digestion. Filled with useful tips and delicious recipes, this book is perfect for the health-conscious chef.

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  • No Reservations : Around the World on an Empty Stomach

    2007 by Anthony Bourdain

    As far as personalities are concerned, Bourdain's is the biggest in the culinary world. With such hits as Kitchen Confidential and the perennially popular No Reservations, no list of culinary celebrities is complete without him. If you are a fan of his show, you'll want to check out this great book which takes you behind the scenes.

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  • Tortilla Soup

    2002 by Maria Ripoll

    Food stands at the center of the Naranjo's lives. But the head of the family, Martin Naranjo, once a brilliant master chef, has lost his ability to taste. The spirited Naranjo daughters struggle to escape their elderly father's authoritarian disposition while remaining faithful to their love for him. Sparks and drama fly around the dinner table in this heart-warming film.

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  • Blood, Bones, & Butter : The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

    2011 by Gabrielle Hamilton

    Gabrielle Hamilton recounts her escape from a dysfunctional childhood to her success as the head chef of one of New York City's most popular restaurants, Prune. Her unique, eccentric restaurant turns comfort food into gourmet dining. Read her work if you'd like to learn about her truly dramatic rise in the culinary world.

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  • Chef

    2014 by Jon Favreau

    This highly entertaining film tells the story of a down -on-his-luck man from L.A. who opens a food truck. The humorous and touching story is topped off with an all-star cast.

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  • The Book of Salt

    2003 by Monique T Truong

    Comparable to Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate and Joanne Harris's Chocolat in its luscious depiction of food, Truong's novel tells the story of a Vietnamese chef in 1930s Paris. Binh, a chef to literary great Gertrude Stein, narrates a story of love and food.

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