Chefs' Favorite Books

Plus, a few life tips

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With temperatures cooling down, there's nothing better than cozying up to a good book by the fire. But picking a new book is always a challenge. So we've asked some of our favorite experts from the food world to share their favorite reads. If you're looking for a new book this fall, look no further. Here's your fall reading list—plus, some tips—as curated by industry experts.

Bruce and Eric Bromberg, Chefs & Co-Owners, Blue Ribbon Restaurants

The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine, by Rudolph Chelminski

"Amazing insight into the world of high pressure stated in the Michelin-starred restaurant world. Incredibly well written. A must-read if you are a food-focused person." —Eric

Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia, by Librairie Larousse 

"For us, the most indispensable cookbook ever. Just open to any page and delve in!" —Eric & Bruce


① "Always cook like it's your last meal." -Bruce & Eric

② "Never try to make money; always try to make people happy." -Bruce & Eric

Marc Vetri, Chef & Owner, Vetri Family 

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth

The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, by Dan Barber


"My career has been faced with a million obstacles, and I always face them straight on. Some people tend to follow the rule 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' Instead, I choose to say, ...'If it ain't broke, smash the f***ing thing and break it! Then do it better!' As my father told me when I was barely a teenager, if the whole world goes left, you'll go right!"

Alex McCrery & Jenny Goodman, Cofounders, Tilit

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, by Danny Meyer

"There is arguably no better hospitality culture role model that Jenny and I could aspire to emulate than Danny Meyer." —Alex

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh

"The idea of investing in the product over marketing is something that resonated with us mostly in the early days of Tilit." —Alex & Jenny


① "Focus. The message was tiled into the wall of the first restaurant I worked in almost 20 years ago and still carries with me today." —Alex

② "Hindsight is twenty-twenty. Learn from your mistakes and move on!" —Jenny

Daniel Boulud, Chef & Restaurateur, Daniel Restaurants

Croque-en-bouche, by Fanny Deschamps 

"One of France's finest chefs—Alain Chapel's book came out when I was 25, and I read it on my way to America. It helped me stay grounded through the years and served as a reminder of Lyon's rich culinary heritage."

United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, by David Kamp

"It's not so much about gastronomy as it's about understanding the overall business and cultural impact food has had on the country."


① "Find a good mentor who challenges you, continues to make you challenge yourself and helps you take the next leap."

② "Draw from a cuisine rooted in tradition and apply your creativity and personality to adapt it to the present."

For more tips, be on the lookout for Boulud's Letters to a Young Chef, coming out this October. It shares the story of his successful career and the critical advice he learned along the way.

Jeff Carcara, CEO, Barteca Restaurant Group 

The Truth about Employee Engagement, by Patrick Lencioni

"Anything by Patrick Lencioni, in my opinion, is a must-read. His writing style and 'leadership fables' are easy to read. It pulls you into what you believe are real-life examples. This particular fable is set in a restaurant and makes it that much more relatable. I would also recommend two of his other books: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Ideal Team Player." 

Delivering Happiness: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, by Tony Hsieh

"The history of Zappos and the story of how they've defined their company values makes for a really good book—all rooted in great customer service and culture building."


① "A very wise CEO I once worked with told me to always 'ask the next question.' The idea is to drill down until you get to the root of your question. Never settle for a passive answer."

② "I wish I would have started reading earlier in my career, period. No one book is going to give you the answer or change life completely. Each book will give you a tool or two that helps you develop your leadership style and the way you work."

Photo: Courtesy of Barteca

Nick Reader, CEO/Cofounder, PDQ

Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear, by James Zug and Paul Assaiante

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, by Chris Fussell, David Silverman, Stanley A. McChrystal and Tantum Collins


① "The two things that we control every day are our effort and attitude, so wake up and make sure you are the best at both."

② "Mistakes are good as long as you learn from them. Be sure to share them, so people are willing to take chances and the entire organization learns from them."


Mark Hinchliffe, Junior Partner, Smith/President, Fishbird

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails, by Sarah Bakewell

Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang


"I think Madeleine L'Engle once defined science fiction as 'everything,' and I view things the same way. The stories we tell ourselves about the world: They're all made up. Which means that our imagination becomes the most powerful tool that we have. We're all living inside of the expression of someone's imagination, and we don't have much time on this planet. So, this is an invitation to use our time to create things that liberate us, that empower us, that sustain us. And right now, as a collective, humans are severely lacking in that department. Which makes artists ever more important, especially those whose voices have not yet been heard."

Photo: Andrew Holtz