Six Thoughtful New Cookbooks

Elevate your home chef skills with these diverse guides

More than how-to guides, cookbooks tell stories—whether it’s once-lost traditions or modern-day innovations. In these recently published cookbooks, readers can learn secret family recipes, inventive plant-based dishes, clever fermented fare and much more. And, beyond the delicious dishes, each of these creative books tell a unique tale—from a love letter to Detroit, to a thoughtful approach to dining solo—that will simultaneously elevate your kitchen skills.

A Very Serious Cookbook: Contra Wildair

The humor and ingenuity of the duo behind beloved New York City restaurants Contra and Wildair translates onto every single page in their debut cookbook, A Very Serious Cookbook: Contra Wildair ($50). Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske cook hyper-seasonally, with undeniable skill, wit and a bit of humility. There’s nothing stuffy about their food—or their love of natural wine—and it has rewarded them and will reward readers.

Smith & Deli-cious: Food From Our Deli (That Happens to be Vegan)

The brains behind Melbourne’s Smith & Daughters and Smith & Deli, Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse have put out a second cookbook. Smith & Deli-cious: Food From Our Deli (That Happens to be Vegan) ($23) is an aptly named guide to all kinds of impressive and unexpected plant-based dishes. From shepherd’s pie to plakopsy, larb, brownies and more, the recipes evoke the warmth and comfort of home, but are concurrently super-inventive. With helpful guides to basics (like stock and sauces) and the Smith & Deli story (about a Fitzroy favorite with queues streaming out the door), it’s a comprehensive book that spans cuisines, cultures and flavors—and might even satisfy avid non-vegans.

Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One

Anita Lo, a Michelin-starred chef, penned a self-deprecating guide to eating alone. It’s not a list of restaurants accommodating a table for one, rather Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One ($18) is a cookbook filled with recipes perfectly sized for the person preparing them. She feels, after realizing that working odd hours often forced her to dine solo, that the process should be empowering and not loathed.

4 Detroit: Four Chefs. Four Courses. Four Seasons.

Unlike traditional cookbooks, 4 Detroit: Four Chefs. Four Courses. Four Seasons. ($46) contains more than recipes and pretty photography—there’s also illustrations, maps and even poetry. With recipes from Gold Cash Gold, Takoi, Supino and others, every one of the 272 pages celebrates Detroit with relish. Even better, $5 from the sale of every book goes to Gleaners Community Food Bank in the city.

Japan: The Cookbook

Japan: The Cookbook ($34) includes 400 recipes from one of the world’s most respected food cultures—written and collected by food writer Nancy Singleton Hachisu. At almost 500 pages, the book is expansive and sprawls from first to last course by region. Ultimately, the collection forms a comprehensive guide to the nation’s brilliant culinary history.

The Noma Guide to Fermentation 

Penned by René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Noma, and David Zilber, head of the restaurant’s fermentation program, The Noma Guide to Fermentation ($26) is a book as beautiful as it is informative. Fermenting is a vital part of the culinary world and continues to grow because of its health benefits and complex flavors. Using more than 500 step-by-step recipes and illustrations, the pair give readers exclusive insight into Noma’s famed kitchen, their fermentation practices and the end products—and, with a bit of practice (plus access to great ingredients), anyone can follow along and ferment, too.

Images courtesy of respective publishers