6 Milwaukee Chefs on Their Absolute Favorite Cookbook

Six local chefs share which tomes are inspiring their approach to the craft.

1) Lisa Kirkpatrick, Goodkind

Food 52 Genius Desserts by Kristen Miglore

Based on Miglore’s recipe column on food52.com that sniffs out the most defining dessert recipes, this book “offers a bunch of cool tricks and really great recipes. And some creative twists, like a cacio e pepe [cheese and pepper] shortbread. I don’t necessarily fall into the type of person who has to have the latest cookbook. But this one got me good.”

2) Justin Aprahamian, Sanford Restaurant

The Faviken Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson

At Faviken Magasinet, the Swedish restaurant given life by chef/author Nilsson, they harvest and preserve all their own food.

“They are so keyed into the seasons and the natural evolution of flavors. I’ve noticed that from using birch at certain times of the year. We made a birch tea we’re using in a birch sorbet, and have a charred birch broth in a quail dish. Another thing we’ve become incredibly fond of is using fruits in their green/ unripe stage. Right now we’re pairing green gooseberries with crispy head cheese, sorrel, walnuts and turnips.”

3) Gregory León, Amilinda

On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox

León has taken Fox’s sophisticated ingredient-based approach to cooking meatless and broadened it for Amilinda’s omnivorous menu.

“We’re really intrigued by this book. We’re using his black olive caramel recipe as a garnish on a fish dish; we’ve also used it on vegetarian dishes. What we like is the flexibility of the recipes and how they’re used” – like carrot juice cavatelli.

4) Jonna Froelich, 2894 Main in East Troy

Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

“When I’m working on a dish and I know it’s not right, Nosrat has a succinct way to ‘break down’ that dish. For people who are recipe-oriented, they get freaked out by that simple approach. But the book helps you take the leap to think more about the ingredients, not recipes, which makes cooking more fun. It’s also a light, breezy read.”

5) Thi Cao, formerly of Buckley’s

The Mezze Cookbook: Sharing Plates from the Middle East by Salma Hage

The “phenomenal” book’s regional treatment of Middle Eastern mezze (small plates) has helped the chef, known for western European and Asian cooking, to broaden his scope.

“The flavor combinations, the use of spices and nuts, and instead of flour, they use grains. The book shows that you can’t stay complacent with your cooking. It’s opening me up to new ideas.”

6) Kristen Schwab, DanDan

All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China by Carolyn Phillips

“My most-used cookbook,” says the chef de cuisine of this American-Chinese place. “There are old printed tickets tucked inside and dog-eared pages. It’s helped me understand flavor combinations and to make our chile oils and the doughs for our dumplings.”

“Cookbook Muses” appears in the January 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop or find the issue on newsstands, starting Dec. 31.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.