I love to read about food. I check out cookbooks ravenously, & have a copious collection of recipes that have caught my fancy (though I am less likely to actually cook than I am to drool over the pictures). As a sideline to my cookbook hobby, I like to read books by food writers, from restaurant critics to celebrity chefs, about their lives in & out of the kitchen. Some of these are biographies, some memoirs, some memoirs with recipes, & a couple are cookbooks with memoirs on the side.
No list would be complete without Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Bourdain is, of course, the star of No Reservations, the food travel show. Then there's the ubiquitous Gordon Ramsay, who has written Roasting in Hell's Kitchen: Temper Tantrums, F Words, and the Pursuit of Perfection; Sandra Lee, whose memoir is called Made from Scratch ; New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table; & Marcella Hazan's Amarcord: Marcella Remembers. Bloggers will also have their say-I really enjoyed Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life, & there's also Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen by Clotilde Dusoulier & The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond.
Less well known in the U.S. are Marco Pierre White (The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef), Alexis Soyer (The People's Chef: The Culinary Revolutions of Alexis Soyer), Niloufer Ichaporia King (My Bombay Kitchen: Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking), Bernard Loiseau (The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine), Madhur Jaffrey (Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India); & Nigel Slater (Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger).
Finally, consider: My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals: Portraits, Interviews, and Recipes , edited by Melanie Dunea; How I Learned to Cook: Culinary Educations from the World's Greatest Chefs, edited by Kimberly Witherspoon and Peter Meehan; Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone, edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler; What We Eat When We Eat Alone by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin; & A Chef's Story: 27 Chefs Talk about What Got Them into the Kitchen, edited by Dorothy Hamilton and Patric Kuh, for more lip-smacking entertainment.
Searching with the keywords "food anecdotes", "cookery history", or "cooks biography" will bring up more selections in the same vein. Or, just check out any book by Julia Child or M F. K. Fisher-always a winner. Frances Mayes & Peter Mayle are also recommended.
This post was inspired by an article on the Guardian website called "A Taste for Chefs' Memoirs".