Restaurants are struggling right now. State mandated stay at home policies mean restaurants are either unable to operate at all or have had to switch to offering take out only. Either way, the staff are hurting, and many restaurants are going to have trouble paying rent. The good news is there are plenty of ways to help out. Whether it’s buying their merch or gift cards directly from restaurants (Bon Appetit has a fantastic list), or supporting an existing or new non-profit (Eater has a fantastic list here), there is no shortage of ways, only a shortage of donations.
And while buying cookbooks from these restaurants is definitely not the answer to helping out your favorite restaurant in crisis, it has been a nice way for me to fill my time. With these cookbooks (in addition to donating!) I've managed to still feel connected to the restaurants I love. By attempting to cook some of the recipes in them, I have garnered a new, more profound appreciation for the meals they’ve served me, and just how much work goes into each one, from the cooking techniques, to the service and atmosphere surrounding it all.
Here is a roundup of just a few of my favorite restaurant cookbooks from across the US. I hope this can be a starting point for you to seek out. If your favorite spot has gift cards for purchase or a fund to donate to, do it. And maybe on top of all of that, a cookbook allows you to try your hand at cooking their delicious food while stuck at home.
Everything I Want To Eat
The line for Sqirl wraps around Virgil Ave in Silverlake even before it opens. This book is an excellent way to delve into all of the rich, wonderful flavors California has to offer, even if you’re not there. And if you really want, you can have some Sqirl jam delivered to you, as well.
Don’t glaze over at the word “vegan” here. I know, it can be off-putting to some, but Isa Chandara Moskowitz of Modern Love in Brooklyn makes vegan cooking not only easy, but delicious, too. At her restaurant in Brooklyn, I had the best Buffalo wings I’ve ever eaten (no chicken, just tempeh), and the best Mac & Cheese (using cashew milk). It sounds weird, but I didn’t miss anything.
A Boat, A Whale, And A Walrus
Josey Baker Bread
In a city known for its Sourdough, the Mill never disappoints —and it’s as much because of the jams and preserves, as it is the toast. Learn how to make delicious bread while you have extra time on your hands with this book. It will guide you through the process and will fill your home with that fresh bread smell, too.
The Adventures of Fat Rice
This book from Fat Rice in Chicago is beautiful, inside and out. If you’ve never had Macanese cuisine, it’s a melting pot of Chinese, Portuguese, Malysasian, and Indian food, that is absolutely incredible. This book has been a great way to try something new out, while I’ve been at home.
Saba in New Orleans, by Chef Alon Shaya was so good, I had to visit Safta in Denver too. Both were so good, I had to buy the cookbook to try to make the hummus and roasted cauliflower at home. I thought, no way it will be as good as it was at the restaurants. And it wasn’t but it was pretty close. Shockingly close. I can’t recommend this book enough.
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