Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 James Beard Foundation Book Awards, presented to the best cookbooks and other non-fiction food or beverage-related books published in the United States.
Baking and Desserts
Tava: Eastern European Baking and Desserts from Romania & Beyond by Irina Georgescu
Tava is a meticulously researched baking book celebrating centuries of diversity and overlapping cultures that form today’s cuisine in Romania. The author’s aim is to also share the story of those dishes that have come to represent the identity of different cultural communities across the country. Tava means tray in Romanian, a metaphor for how a whole culinary landscape is presented to the reader.
You will find Armenian pakhlava, Saxon plum pies, Swabian poppyseed crescents, Jewish fritters, and Hungarian langoși alongside plăcinte pies, alivenci corn cake, strudels and fruit dumplings. Rice or pearl barley puddings, donuts and gingerbread biscuits come with their own story, while chocolate mousses, meringues in custard sauce and coffee ice cream introduce you to the glamour of famous Romanian and Eastern European pastry shops.
The book is written with integrity and respect towards this rich heritage connecting the past with a present which can be encountered by the reader when travelling in Romania. The recipes are easy to follow, beautifully photographed, and tempt the reader to embrace the unfamiliar as much as the familiar, while enjoying their comforting and homely feel.
Beverage with Recipes
The Bartender’s Manifesto: How to Think, Drink, and Create Cocktails Like a Pro by Toby Maloney and Emma Janzen
Take a raucous romp through the essential stages of fashioning cocktails and learn the hows and whys of bartending with acclaimed mixologist Toby Maloney and the team from The Violet Hour. When the pioneering cocktail bar opened in Chicago in 2007, it set a high standard with an innovative training program that teaches not just how to replicate classic cocktail recipes flawlessly, but how to embrace ingenuity, make smart decisions, and create original, inspired recipes from rote. Like cooks who can peer into their pantry and whip up dinner on the fly, no recipe needed, those who follow the methods in The Bartender’s Manifesto will have the technical foundation and confidence to take their cocktail skills to the next level and fabricate a drink from any ingredients at hand.
Beverage without Recipes
Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth by Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay
Authors and experts Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay personally undertook the challenge of visiting 35 artisanal sake breweries in Japan, the US, and Canada to interview makers and document every stage of the sake brewing process. Nancy’s celebrated journalistic background combined with Michael’s sake sommelier experience have led to an engaging and informative look at the world of sake.
The Perfect Loaf: The Craft and Science of Sourdough Breads, Sweets, and More: A Baking Book by Maurizio Leo
Maurizio Leo’s blog The Perfect Loaf is the go-to destination on the internet for beginner sourdough bakers. He now brings his impeccably detailed techniques, foolproof recipes, and generous teaching style to a groundbreaking debut cookbook that delves into the absolute fundamentals of sourdough—plus the tools and confidence to explore beyond.
Beginner bakers will have their hands held the entire way, with troubleshooting sections and numerous sidebars answering almost every question they may have—like how to store a sourdough starter long-term, how bakers’ percentages actually work, and a visual guide to common “bread fails” and how to remedy them. Seasoned bakers will relish deep dives into the science behind baking processes and expert information on how to build their “baker’s intuition” and level up by experimenting with hydration, ingredient ratios, freshly milled grains, and specialty flours. Whether you’re new to bread baking or a pro, The Perfect Loaf will be your indispensable guide in the kitchen.
Food Issues and Advocacy
Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America by Psyche A. Williams-Forson
Psyche A. Williams-Forson is one of our leading thinkers about food in America. In Eating While Black, she offers her knowledge and experience to illuminate how anti-Black racism operates in the practice and culture of eating. She shows how mass media, nutrition science, economics, and public policy drive entrenched opinions among both Black and non-Black Americans about what is healthful and right to eat. Distorted views of how and what Black people eat are pervasive, bolstering the belief that they must be corrected and regulated. What is at stake is nothing less than whether Americans can learn to embrace nonracist understandings and practices in relation to food.
Sustainable culture—what keeps a community alive and thriving—is essential to Black peoples’ fight for access and equity, and food is central to this fight. Starkly exposing the rampant shaming and policing around how Black people eat, Williams-Forson contemplates food’s role in cultural transmission, belonging, homemaking, and survival. Black people’s relationships to food have historically been connected to extreme forms of control and scarcity—as well as to stunning creativity and ingenuity. In advancing dialogue about eating and race, this book urges us to think and talk about food in new ways in order to improve American society on both personal and structural levels.
The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress by Andy Baraghani
Andy Baraghani peeled hundreds of onions at Chez Panisse as a teenage intern, honed his perfectly balanced salad–making skills at Estela in New York, and developed recipes in the test kitchens of Saveur, Tasting Table, and Bon Appétit. It took him all those years to figure out the cook he wanted to be: a cook who is true to his Persian heritage, a fresh-vegetable lover, a citrus superfan, and an always-hungry world traveler. In The Cook You Want to Be, Baraghani shows home cooks on how to hone their own cooking styles by teaching the techniques and unexpected flavor combinations that maximize flavor in minimal time.
At Bon Appétit, Baraghani created a bevy of viral recipes—from Tahini Ranch to Fall-Apart Caramelized Cabbage—that became household staples. Here, he follows up with more umami-rich dishes, beautiful and restaurant-worthy meals (that take half the time), and well-known dishes recast in utterly delicious ways. Among his debut cookbook’s 100 recipes, new surefire hits include Caramelized Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter Harissa; Sticky, Spicy Basil Shrimp; and Tangy Pomegranate-Chicken. Cooks will find inspiration to riff on, quick meals for hurried weeknights, condiments galore, and memorable meals to impress dinner guests. In essays throughout the book, Baraghani shares convictions (why everyone must make his beloved Persian egg dish, kuku sabzi) and lessons to live by (the importance of salting fish before cooking it).
Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico: A Cookbook by Rick Martínez
Join Rick Martínez on a once-in-a-lifetime culinary journey throughout México that begins in Mexico City and continues through 32 states, in 156 cities, and across 20,000 incredibly delicious miles. In Mi Cocina, Rick shares deeply personal recipes as he re-creates the dishes and specialties he tasted throughout his journey. Inspired by his travels, the recipes are based on his taste memories and experiences. True to his spirit and reflective of his deep connections with people and places, these dishes will revitalize your pantry and transform your cooking repertoire.
Highlighting the diversity, richness, and complexity of Mexican cuisine, he includes recipes like herb and cheese meatballs bathed in a smoky, spicy chipotle sauce from Oaxaca called Albóndigas en Chipotle; northern México’s grilled Carne Asada that he stuffs into a grilled quesadilla for full-on cheesy-meaty food euphoria; and tender sweet corn tamales packed with succulent shrimp, chiles, and roasted tomatoes from Sinaloa on the west coast. Rick’s poignant essays throughout lend context–both personal and cultural–to quilt together a story that is rich and beautiful, touching and insightful.
Savor: A Chef’s Hunger for More by Fatima Ali with Tarajia Morrell
Fatima Ali won the hearts of viewers as the Fan Favorite of Bravo’s Top Chef in season fifteen. Twenty-nine years old, she was a dynamic, boundary-breaking chef and a bright new voice for change in the food world. After the taping wrapped and before the show aired, Fati was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. Not one to ever slow down or admit defeat, the star chef vowed to spend her final year traveling the world, eating delicious food, and making memories with her loved ones. But when her condition abruptly worsened, her plans were sidelined. She pivoted, determined to make her final days count as she worked to tell the story of a brown girl chef who set out to make a name for herself, her food, and her culture.
Including writing from Fatima during her last months and contributions by her mother, Farezeh, and her collaborator, Tarajia Morrell, this deftly woven account is an inspiring ode to the food, family, and countries Fatima loved so much. Alternating between past and present, readers are transported back to Pakistan and the childhoods of both Fatima and Farezeh, each deeply affected by cultural barriers that shaped the course of their lives. From the rustic stalls of the outdoor markets of Karachi to the kitchen and dining room of Meadowood, the acclaimed three-star Michelin restaurant where she apprenticed, Fati reflects on her life and her identity as a chef, a daughter, and a queer woman butting up against traditional views.
Reference, History, and Scholarship
Slaves for Peanuts: A Story of Conquest, Liberation, and a Crop That Changed History by Jori Lewis
Americans consume over 1.5 billion pounds of peanut products every year. But few of us know the peanut’s tumultuous history, or its intimate connection to slavery and freedom.
Lyrical and powerful, Slaves for Peanuts deftly weaves together the natural and human history of a crop that transformed the lives of millions. Author Jori Lewis reveals how demand for peanut oil in Europe ensured that slavery in Africa would persist well into the twentieth century, long after the European powers had official banned it in the territories they controlled.
Delving deep into West African and European archives, Lewis recreates a world on the coast of Africa that is breathtakingly real and unlike anything modern readers have experienced. Slaves for Peanuts is told through the eyes of a set of richly detailed characters—from an African-born French missionary harboring fugitive slaves, to the leader of a Wolof state navigating the politics of French imperialism—who challenge our most basic assumptions of the motives and people who supported human bondage.
Restaurant and Professional
Bludso’s BBQ Cookbook: A Family Affair in Smoke and Soul by Kevin Bludso with Noah Galuten
Kevin Bludso was born and raised in Compton, California, by a Black Panther–supporting mother and a police officer father. To stay out of trouble, he spent his summers in Corsicana, Texas, where he was schooled on the art of barbecue and worked long, hot hours on the pits at his granny’s legendary BBQ stand. In 2008, Kevin opened his own Bludso’s BBQ, a small walk-up stand in the heart of Compton that has led to multiple locations in California, Texas, and even Australia.
In this honest and engaging cookbook, Kevin teaches you everything you need to know about BBQ: choosing, seasoning, trimming, and cleaning your pit, how to select your brisket, ribs, and sausages, plus all the rubs and sauces you could need. Kevin also shares 90 delicious recipes for main meats such as BBQ Lamb Leg, Spicy Curried Oxtails, Buffalo Rib Tips, Blackened Catfish, and Grilled Mojo Shrimp; sides such as Creole Cabbage, Pinto Beans, and Down Home Mac & Cheese; and even desserts such as Mom’s Banana Pudding, Buttermilk Pie, and Kevin’s famous Hennessy on the Rocks, along with the mouthwatering photographs to accompany them. But The Bludso Family Cookbook is also a story about Kevin’s family and community. It’s a love letter to the often misunderstood city of Compton, and the story of how Kevin has fed and supported his own community while teaching everyone the art of barbecue.
The Wok: Recipes and Techniques by J. Kenji López-Alt
Whether stir-frying, deep frying, steaming, simmering, or braising, the wok is the most versatile pan in the kitchen. Once you master the basics—the mechanics of a stir-fry, and how to get smoky wok hei at home—you’re ready to cook home-style and restaurant-style dishes from across Asia and the United States, including Kung Pao Chicken, Pad Thai, and San Francisco–Style Garlic Noodles. López-Alt also breaks down the science behind beloved Beef Chow Fun, fried rice, dumplings, tempura vegetables or seafood, and dashi-simmered dishes.
Featuring more than 200 recipes—including simple no-cook sides—explanations of knife skills and how to stock a pantry, and more than 1,000 color photographs, The Wok provides endless ideas for brightening up dinner.
I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef by Vishwesh Bhatt
A Vishwesh Bhatt dish conjures an evolving American South. Peanut Masala–Stuffed Baby Eggplant alongside fried okra, tossed in tangy chaat masala. Collard-Wrapped Catfish with a spicy Peanut Pesto. These much-loved dishes are stars on the menu at Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi, where Bhatt has been the executive chef since 2009, earning him Best Chef: South (2019 James Beard Awards) and induction into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans, and Chefs in 2022. His food draws from his Indian heritage and is unpretentious, inventive, and incredibly delicious.
I Am From Here organizes 130 recipes by ingredient, emphasizing staples, spices, and vegetables that are as beloved on the Indian subcontinent as they are in the American South. Summer means okra, tomatoes, corn, and peas. Winter brings sweet potatoes and greens: mustards, collards, kale, and spinach. Rice is a constant throughout.
Bhatt vividly recounts the special meals cooked by his mother and grandmothers—vegetarian comfort food such as Khichadi, custardy rice pudding, and Stewed Gujarati-Style Black-Eyed Peas—and presents them alongside dishes he’s shared with friends, colleagues, and family across the decades. Recipes run the gamut from uncomplicated roast chicken and Citrus-Herb Rice Salad to dinner party–worthy Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Tandoori Spices.
The Vegan Chinese Kitchen: Recipes and Modern Stories from a Thousand-Year-Old Tradition: A Cookbook by Hannah Che
When Hannah Che decided to become a vegan, she worried that it would separate her from the traditions and food that her Chinese family celebrated. But that was before she learned about zhai cai, the plant-based Chinese cuisine that emphasizes umami-rich ingredients and can be traced back over centuries to Buddhist temple kitchens.
In The Vegan Chinese Kitchen, through gorgeous photography, stories, and recipes, Hannah Che shows us the magic of this highly developed and creative tradition in which nearly every dish in the Chinese repertoire can be replicated in a meatless way, such as Blistered Dry-Fried String Beans or Sweet and Sour Tofu. You’ll also find recipes that are naturally plant-based and as irresistible as they are nourishing, such as flaky scallion pancakes, corn stir-fried with peppers and pine nuts, or pea shoots braised in a velvety mushroom broth made with sesame-oil roux.
Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic, 100% Delicious by Joanna Hu and Armelle Habib
As immigrants with Chinese heritage, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu spent their formative years living between (at least) two cultures and wondering how they fitted in. Food was a huge part of this journey; should they cling to the traditional comfort of their parents’ varied culinary heritage, attempt to assimilate wholly by learning to love mashed potatoes, or forge a new path where flavor and the freedom to choose trumped authenticity? They went with option three.
Chinese-ish celebrates the confident blending of culture and identity through food—take what you love and reject what doesn’t work for you. You’ll find a bounty of inauthentic Chinese-influenced dishes from all over South-East Asia, including all the best rice and noodle dishes, wontons, and dumplings. There are also plenty of tips and shortcuts to demystify any tricky-sounding techniques, and a reassuring list of pantry staples and where to find them.
Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook by Illyanna Maisonet
Illyanna Maisonet spent years documenting her family’s Puerto Rican recipes and preserving the island’s disappearing foodways through rigorous, often bilingual research. In Diasporican, she shares over 90 recipes, some of which were passed down from her grandmother and mother—classics such as Tostones, Pernil, and Arroz con Gandules, as well as Pinchos with BBQ Guava Sauce, Rabbit Fricassee with Chayote, and Flan de Queso.
In this visual record of Puerto Rican food, ingredients, and techniques, Illyanna traces the island’s flavour traditions to the Taino, Spanish, African, and even United States’ cultures that created it. These dishes, shaped by geography, immigration, and colonization, reflect the ingenuity and diversity of their people. Filled with travel and food photography, Diasporican reveals how food connects us to family, history, conflict, and migration.