Mastering the Art of French Cooking

by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle and Julia Child

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Recommended by

Roopa Gulati

Chef, food writer and broadcaster

I used both volumes of this book as part of the training schedule for trainee chefs while I was working at the Taj Hotel in Delhi. We spent hours simmering demi glace, getting the bouillabaisse and rouille just-so - often starting again when we missed the mark. The pages from this book soon fell out from overuse (and from getting too close to the stockpot) and had to be rebound in utilitarian hardback cover. But all the recipes have stood the test of time, the yellowing pages a recognition of our teamwork, the successes, occasional failures, and fond memories of my five years at the hotel.

Erin Jeanne McDowell

Cook, food writer and food stylist

This is the first cookbook I read like a novel - from cover to cover. In addition to learning so many basic techniques that helped me in every aspect of my cooking life, I loved the way Julia wrote her methods - she didn't mince words, but she knew exactly when to delve deeper. In fact, it was even better than a novel, because every recipe was a whole story - and I wasn't sad when it ended, because I then needed to go back and start cooking.

Dan Lepard

Baker and food writer

Arguably taught generations of cooks how to appreciate the detail and skills found in traditional French cooking, explained in outrageous detail with recipes that ran for many pages. It was the first recipe book I bought in 1991 when I started cooking, and it both fascinated and alarmed me about what preparation of good traditional French food involves. Still charming and inspiring cooks today.

Annabel Langbein

Author and celebrity cook

These days I find this food too rich and too fiddly, but these two volumes were the first cookbooks I owned, gifted to me by my mother when I was just 14. She knew I was a cook well before I did. The lobster thermidor is a well-marked page from my days as a lobster fisher – I think it has 23 ingredients and seven different steps, and about as many calories as you need in a whole week!

Kate Young

Blogger and cookbook author

A predictable choice, I know, but Child’s instructions are precise, detailed and foolproof. The book is so clearly a labour of love; meticulously tested, and such a brilliant manual for learning the basics of French cuisine. I have learnt so much from it over the years.

Robyn Metcalfe

Founder and Director, Food+City

What can be said about this classic? This is the foundational book for anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals for classic cuisine. Who else would describe an omelette as “a smooth, gently swelling, golden oval that is tender and creamy inside.” ?

Merry White

Food anthropologist

As a young caterer, I relied heavily on her - and she came to my rescue often, knowing it was me when I called as I was always in tears. The Charlotte Malakov au chocolat was a crowd pleaser. She was the real deal.

Jennifer Armentrout

Editor-in-Chief, Fine Cooking Magazine

As newlyweds in the 60’s, my parents basically taught themselves how to cook by working their way through this book. If not for Julia Child and her co-authors, I would have grown up a lot less well fed.

Annie Bell

Food writer

This is the ultimate 'how to', no other cookbook seeking to instruct comes close to the meticulous and methodical approach. It is a lifetime achievement. I am forever referring back to this book.

Janice Longone

Culinary historian

Julia Child (and television) clearly completely changed American cooking and entertaining. Julia was witty, gracious, very generous and professional. We all owe her a debt of gratitude.

Natasha MacAller


This tome taught my Mom to venture beyond boiling water, making toast and baking frozen chicken pot pies. Julia's book inspired me many years and another career later to become a chef.

Vicky Hayward

Food writer

Quite apart from the in-depth recipes that make the book a classic, I turn to it for inspiration from the leisurely in-between thoughts about balancing flavours and combining dishes.

Anna Francese Gass

Chef, recipe tester and author

We all bow to the throne of JC. Her easy approach to French cooking inspired me to go to culinary school and learn how to cook professionally. I make her Quiche Lorraine monthy!

Makiko Itoh

Blogger of Just Hungry and Just Bento

This really is the ultimate French cookbook for American cooks. I have tons of other books on French cuisine, but still go back to Julia for her clear, intelligent directions.

Beverly LeBlanc


The very detailed, precise methods can seem old-fashioned now, but the recipes are fail-proof and authentic.

Betty Fussell


A model of translating the highest professional techniques into terms a home cook can do and want to do.

Jenny Hartin

Cookbook critic

A classic that you can re-read over and over and never tire of cooking from.

Myrna & Lou Donato

Bookstore owners

Nothing else needs to be said about this book. Julia ws one of the best.

Ken Hom


A real gem of a cookery book as it hooked me on French food and cooking.

Matthew Fort

Food writer and critic

A masterpiece, not least for the the lucid elegance of its instructions.

Lauraine Jacobs

Author and columnist

The absolute classic with more detail on technique than any other book.

Liz Williams

Founder of SoFAB

The book that is so full of technique that can be duplicated at home.

Sarah Tuck

Food and travel writer, photographer and stylist

Demystifying classic French cooking, old school and fabulous

Fred Smith

Beef at Flat Iron

A fantastic reference.

Kasey Wilson

Food & travel writer, broadcaster and author

Braised Sweetbreads!

Jennifer Chandler

Cookbook author and restaurateur

THE classic!

Jeremy Cherfas

Producer and host of Eat This Podcast


Paul Robinson

Food writer, stylist and photographer

Nikki Werner

Food writer

Clay Williams

Photographer and blogger

Ruth Reichl

Writer, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine

Theo Randall

Chef/Patron of Theo Randall at the InterContinental

Clark Wolf

Consultant and writer

John Ashburne

Writer, editor and photographer

Marvin J. Taylor

Director, Fales Library and Special Collections

Adaobi Okonkwo

Blogger of dobbyssignature

Russ Parsons

Food columnist of LA Times

Linda Pelaccio

Culinary historian

Vikas Khanna

Chef, restaurateur, food writer

Darina Allen

Owner and Founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School

Andrew F. Smith

Food historian

Alejandro Junger

Medical Director, Creator of the Clean Program

Lindsey Shere

Pastry chef

Joan Nathan

Cookbook author and food journalist

Valentina Harris

Author and Chef

Marion Nestle

Academic, food activist and author

Emily Luchetti

Chief Pastry Officer Big Night Restaurant Group

Marissa Nicosia

Assistant Professor at Penn State Abington

Alison Swan Parente

Co-founder of School of Artisan Food

Willie Lebus

Director Bibendum Wine

Celia Sack

Proprietress of Omnivore Books

Amanda Feifer

Fermentation blogger and educator

Bronte Aurell

Co-owner of ScandiKitchen

Jennifer Bushman

Culinary Consultant, Route to Market LLC

Chris Fischer

Chef and farmer

Tracey Ryder

Co-founder of Edible Communities

Amber Wilson

Writer, Photographer and Recipe Developer

Gary Allen

Food writer and historian

Alexander Lobrano

Author, Hungry for Paris

Robert McCullough

Publisher of Appetite

Barbara Seelig-Brown

Cookbook Author and Host of the TV show Stress Free Cooking

Cathy Strange

Whole Foods Market Global Cheese Buyer

Barbara Haber

Author and food historian

Jamie Schler

Blogger, Life’s a Feast and Plated Stories

Sue Carter

Oenophile and Home Cook

Melissa Clark

Food Columnist, The New York Times

Harold McGee

Author and lecturer

Charles Shere

Writer and composer

Janet Floyd

Professor of American Literature & Culture

Ruth Rogers

American born British Chef who owns and runs the Michelin Star Italian restaurant, The River Cafe

Bridget Henisch

Medieval food historian

Paul Kahan

Executive Chef and Partner

Lidia Bastianich

Restaurateur, chef and author

Cathy Barrow

Author of the food blog Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen

Wylie Dufresne

Former chef and owner of wd-50 and Alder restaurants

Jeremy Lee

Executive Chef Patron, Quo Vadis, Soho

Fiona Cairns


Tim Hayward

Writer and broadcaster

Sheila Dillon

Food journalist

Pascale Beale

Owner and Founder of Pascale’s Kitchen

David Dale


Joanne Weir

Chef, cookbook author and television personality

Darrell Corti

President Corti Brothers

Lisa Marley

Founder of Cocoa Box

Ellen Schrecker

Professor of American History and author

David Joachim

Food writer