Features & Stories

Which books from the 1000 Cookbooks top 20 would you like to see on ckbk?

Back in 2015, our 1000 Cookbooks project began compiling cookbook recommendations from leading chefs, authors, and other food experts. To date, we have received nearly 10,000 individual cookbook recommendations, which form the basis of an authoritative ranking of the best and most-influential cookbooks of all time.

Now, following the introduction of ckbk’s à la carte collection, we are able to offer numerous iconic titles that were previously unavailable because of licensing restrictions.

We already have six of the Top 20 most-recommended books available as à la carte titles (some territorial restrictions apply, but all should be globally available soon) . Read more about these books below, then complete the poll at the bottom of the page to help us determine which of the remaining Top 20 books should be added to ckbk next.

Books already available as à la carte options on ckbk

The French Laundry Cookbook

Thomas Keller’s restaurant, The French Laundry, in Yountville CA, sits at the pinnacle of the US culinary landscape, and this book is similarly fêted as one of the most influential chef cookbooks of all time. Perhaps unusually for a book from a three Michelin-starred restaurant, it is resolutely not a coffee-table book but is designed to be cooked from.

Cookbook author Dan Toombs notes in his recommendation: “I think I’ve made every recipe in the book, some many times…” Some of the best-known inventions include Smoked Salmon Cornets and Oysters and Pearls, which features tapioca as an unexpectedly effective secret ingredient. Elsewhere, classic French recipes such as Pot au Feu and Île Flottante have been impressively refined and reinterpreted.

Roast Chicken & Other Stories

Chef Simon Hopkinson rose to fame in the 1990s as chef of Michelin-starred London restaurant Bibendum. This book was co-written with Lindsey Bareham and is arranged alphabetically by ingredient (anchovy, chicken, veal…).

Recipes for simple classics such as Eggs Florentine, Chocolate Tart, and Spiced Aubergine Salad are refreshingly un-cheffy. As with Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat, this book has no photographs, relying instead on the strength of the writing to tempt you into the kitchen.


Co-written by Israel-born Yotam Ottolenghi and Palestinian chef Sami Tamimi, Jerusalem is filled with colorful, flavorful Middle Eastern dishes, ranging from local staples such as Hummus (the subject of much passionate debate) and Falafel to Instagram-friendly recipes such as Red Pepper & Baked Egg Galettes and Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake.

Chef Sophie Tyrell, who recommended the book, says: “[There are] lots of ingredients and some recipes take a bit of time to prepare but it’s worth it. When your taste buds need reviving, cook from this book.”


Drawn from Ottolenghi’s ‘The New Vegetarian’ column for the Guardian, Plenty was perfectly in tune with the times when it was published in 2010 and it became an instant classic. It remains an essential cookbook. Whether you’re a meat-eater or not, as journalist Felicity Spector notes in her recommendation: “The sheer abundance of glorious vegetable dishes makes this [book] impossible to resist.”

Top recipes include Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce, Black Pepper Tofu, and Castelluccio Lentils with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola.

How to Eat

Nigella Lawson’s first book, published back in 1998, leaves aside glossy food photography in favor of sumptuous prose. Its 560 pages include bombproof trusted basics (her chocolate Birthday Cake recipe is a surefire winner) and an impressive collection of more-unusual but brilliant recipes, such as her justly famous Coca-Cola Braised and Glazed Ham.

In her recommendation, food writer Hattie Ellis writes: “The cookbook broke conventions by showing food to be part of life, and that you could write about [food and cooking] without donning a straitjacket of recipe ‘rules’. There’s such a joy of eating in the book and such a strong sense of how eating is central to home.”

The River Cafe Cook Book

The River Cafe, the restaurant/canteen beside the Thames in Hammersmith, run by Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray, opened its doors 35 years ago. Since then, the restaurant has launched the careers of many influential chefs and published several more cookbooks.

This first iconic book (‘the blue one’) includes dishes that put the restaurant on the culinary map, such as the infamously tricky Chocolate Nemesis, as well as Tuscan vegetable soup Ribollita, which Moro chef Samantha Clark cites as a favorite dish from the time she spent in the kitchens of the River Cafe.


Related posts

You can now get add-on access to iconic cookbooks, in addition to ckbk’s growing subscription collection, for one-off payment.

It is hard to overstate the impact of Yotam Ottlolenghi’s influence on how we now cook and eat. His cookbooks are available as ‘à la carte’ options on ckbk.

Richard Olney’s Ten Vineyard Lunches explores the regional cooking of France through the prism of a wine glass.