Chef Karen Davison's Top Cookbooks for Beginners

Beginner chefs, though at the same initial phase in their cooking career, invariably proceed to undertake varying, unique routes because they possess specific infatuations, interests, and aspirations within the kitchen. 

Just as there are different ambitions and fascinations found in nearly every beginner chef, bear in mind that volume upon volume of cookbooks is available to commence the process. It is just a matter of working out what your desires are and which book you want to make a beeline for. 

Karen Davison, a professional chef in Plano, Texas, who specializes in fine dining and has an extensive background in homestyle cooking, presents her ultimate list of exceptional cookbooks that all beginner chefs can learn plenty from.

The Joy of Cooking

Published 88 years ago in its first edition, Irma Rombauer’s cookbook is a must-read for any beginner chef who is curious about the basics of cooking, Karen Davison states. Earlier this year, the book was revised by Rombaeur’s great-grandson John Becker and his wife Megan Scott, effectively quelling concerns of being an antiquated resource. With upwards of 4,500 recipes, including popcorn and emu fillets, combined with helpful charts and diagrams, there is more than enough to get you started.

Small Victories

For those beginner chefs who are fixated on portion sizes, Julia Turshen’s cookbook has a number of recipes that focus on serving dishes in smaller pieces, according to Karen Davison. While it might seem like a humdrum experience, her recipes are also classified as lessons, as she highlights an abundance of tips that allow you to create your own version of the meals. Follow her guidance and you will discover that even the most complex dishes are achievable and are a confidence boosting exercise for any beginner chef. 

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science

A 958-page tome may be discouraging, but J. Kenji López-Alt has delved into the science behind the cooking, Karen Davison says. Do not be alarmed, because the recipes are approachable and the instructions are detailed. A total of six pages, for instance, focuses on the act of boiling an egg, going so far as to feature a graph that charts boiling point versus altitude. Inquiring beginner chefs will certainly find it an entertaining, equally useful, cookbook that will make future meals appear in a whole new scientific style.

12 Recipes

Many beginner chefs first got the urge to cook by observing a family member or friend in the kitchen, even if they never bothered to retain any information, Karen Davison notes. Cal Peternell wrote this cookbook for his eldest son and readers can become an extended relative of sorts by picking it up. In its pages, they will see indispensable wisdom that will assist them around the kitchen, whether that is the ability spot signs of burning garlic or how to react when the fire alarm sends you into a tailspin. Also, there are relaxing recipes for the classic dishes, such as spaghetti and meatballs, chocolate cake, and more. 

The Flavor Bible

Some beginner chefs will greatly appreciate, obsess over flavors and ingredients in the kitchen, looking for new recipes on a single dish. The Flavor Bible, written by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg, is an enthralling cookbook that has a plethora of recipes that empower chefs to concoct their own fantastic flavors. Were you to have some Swiss chard that you wanted to utilize in a recipe that wasn’t the conventional formula (sautéed with lemon and garlic), simply go to the chard section and voila; culinary artistry, compatible ingredients and a world of flavors that will fulfill your palate.