7 classic cookbooks: inspiration for a foodie

There are some cookbooks which we use for recipes to cook from. Then there are cookbooks, which define attitudes to cooking, that dig deep into ingredients and how they play with one another, simplify the mysteries of a cuisine and remain timeless. We asked Matt and Susi - the driving force behind JH’s food to share their inspirational cookbooks with us.


White Heat - Marco Pierre White (1990)

The book: This book broke the image of a traditional cookbook. Part cookbook and part memoir, with unusual photography by Bob Carlos Clarke - something completely unheard of in the 90’s. It is cited today as having influenced the careers of several celebrity and Michelin starred chefs and one of the most influential recipe books in the past 20 years.

Matt says: “White Heat was a groundbreaker with amazing photography from Bob Carlos, especially the plate work. If you look hard enough in the pictures of service, you can see other great chefs like Stephen Terry and Gordon Ramsay learning their trade!”

Moro: The Cookbook - Samantha & Samuel Clarke (2001)

The book: Set out to explore the food of Spain, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, the Clarks introduced traditions and flavours previously unheard of in the UK, through their restaurant Moro and their subsequent cookbook.

Susi says: “I find this book so refreshing in its approach to a cuisine with such vibrant flavours”

Thai Food - David Thompson (2002)

The book: A comprehensive guide to Thai cuisine in English, Thai Food offers not only recipes but also an in-depth understanding of ingredients, a guide on availability and substitutions and an insight on the role of food in culture and customs.

Made in Italy, Food & Stories - Giorgio Locatelli (2008)

The book: Innovative restaurant dishes and family favorites all feature in this in-depth cookbook. The anecdotes interspersed with recipes make great reading and the recipes spanning from antipasti to desserts allow readers to achieve restaurant results at home.

Matt says: “Thai Food and Made in Italy are like Bibles of their cuisine, such in-depth information, not just within the recipes but the ingredients that are used and why.”

Ottolenghi The Cookbook - Yotam Ottolenghi & Sammi Tamimi (2008)

The book: Less meat, more vegetables, rich flavours, unconventional cooking style are all phrases one could use to describe this book. With this book, Ottolenghi established himself as a champion of fresh, honest and bold cooking.

Matt says: “I just love this book for the fresh ideas it brought into cooking”

Susi also recommends Nopi (2015) and Jerusalem (2012) - both by Ottolenghi. “Nopi is a cookbook written with Ramael Scully and has recipes from their restaurant Nopi in London, which has a distinctive Asian twist to Ottolenghi’s style. I love it for the amalgamation of flavours from Middle to Far East.  Jerusalem with Sammi Tamimi is about cooking from both - Arab and Jewish sides of Jerusalem and I love the many ingredients it has introduced me to.”

Today's Special, A new take  on bistro food - Anthony Demetre (2008)

The book: Modern bistro style food - new techniques and old recipes. So simple and delicious that you’d want to cook them over and over.

Matt says: “Arbutus was the restaurant owned by Anthony Demetre, it showcased humble ingredients by using classic French techniques at affordable prices. One of my favourite recipes ever is in Today's Special - the crispy pig head terrine. I have made this at home on more than one occasion. It is a labour of love and the effort put in is rewarded with a really beautiful dish!”

Rick Stein: Far Eastern Odyssey (2009)

The book: Travelling across Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Srilanka and Bangaladesh, the book fully captures the well known classics It also treads off the beaten track with entries from local markets, rice farms and visits to traditional homes for family recipes.

Susi says: “I love Rick Stein’s style. Not only are his cookbooks great for recipes, they’re also excellent guides for foodies. They are filled with recommendations of restaurants you can visit. I used this book extensively during my travels in Thailand”


If you eat at one of the JH sites, then we’re sure you must have spotted some of these influences on our menus. Share your favorites with us. Dishes or books - both welcome! Tweet to us at @justhospitality