If trapped on an island (albeit one with a great kitchen and a well-stocked larder), here's what the cookbook experts would choose.
Mika Bareket, Good Egg, Toronto:
1. Tender, Volumes 1 and 2 by Nigel Slater
For recipes and companionship, Nigel Slater's my man.
2. Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
The only thing Mr. Slater doesn't do much of is pastry. And I can not live without croissants.
3. The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Segnit
Best for a wandering mind. I'd grab this book and sit on the shore, hoping to be rescued but perfectly content with the company I was in.
Alison Fryer, the Cookbook Store, Toronto:
1. Classic Canadian Cooking by Elizabeth Baird
In 1978, Elizabeth Baird was touting using local and seasonal [ingredients] long before it became a marketing rallying cry in the 21st century. Practical, insightful and oh so Canadian, plus it has my go to pastry recipe!
2. Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax
A must for the chocolate cloud recipe alone, a tome for the baker but not complicated. Chatty, with informative and engaging sidebars.
3. Feast by Nigella Lawson
Lamb meatballs in an aromatic vegetable stew with couscous followed by Guinness chocolate cake all told in Nigella Lawson's rich, warm voice – who could ask for anything more?
Grant van Gameren, the Black Hoof, Toronto:
1. Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli
Paul Bertolli writes about food like no one else. … No professional cook should not have this book on his or her shelf! My favourite of all time.
2. The Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali
Master of everything Italian. Mario Batali gives me so much inspiration in my day to day cooking that every time I pick this book up I remember to keep my cooking simple [and] tasty, and ingredient focused.
3. Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan
An amazing story with amazing food. … My kind of read.
Jonathan Cheung, Appetite for Books, Montreal:
1. Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
I can't put it down. Everything is cookable.
2. The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
If I were to have one Italian book, this one is it. Worth it for the bollito misto alone.
3. The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller
My first cookbook when I was in cooking school. This book inspired me to be a chef.
Barbara-Jo McIntosh, Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks, Vancouver:
1. Pastry by Michel Roux
A sweet and savoury jewel box of recipes that make it easy for me to feel like I'm almost as good as Michel Roux is in the kitchen.
2. In Season by Sarah Raven
Both beautiful and educational, answering many of the questions I ponder when I want to better understand the nuance of my favourite ingredients to cook with, vegetables and fruit.
3. The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
I truly believe that our farmers are the world's realists and stewards of the land. This is a manual that conveys these truisms to us.
Gail Norton, the Cookbook Co. Cooks, Calgary:
1. The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
I have learned so much from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's book. The introductions to each of the recipes offer so much information about ingredients and regional cooking, generally evoking a style of cooking.
2. Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Suzanne Goin offers interesting ideas in a seasonal menu format – just when I am getting in the doldrums about winter cooking, I bring out her book and am reminded that there is a cooking life after the summer bounty. And in the summer I browse through it and go, great idea, I will try that!
3. My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell
Skye Gyngell's book is done in that lush, matte finish that it creates a book that you want to curl up with and read and just touch the pages. The food presented is interesting and different with not a lot of fuss.
What's the one cookbook you can't live without? Share your picks with other Globe readers in the comment section.
Special to The Globe and Mail