It is no secret that San Francisco is a culinary mecca and many of its inhabitants pride themselves on being foodies. While many have more finely-honed skills at dining out than in the kitchen, there are a plethora of cookbooks on the shelves that embody the best of what San Francisco cuisine has to offer and can make even the novice cook look like a pro. Here are three cookbooks from the chefs and the restaurants that are pushing the limits of the San Francisco culinary scene.
A16 has become a San Francisco staple since opening its doors in 2004. Its Marina restaurant has become beloved for its rustic flavors and focus on the southern cuisine of Italy as well as its fine selection of Italian wines. In 2008, then executive chef Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren, wine director and owner, released “A16 Food + Wine” to a host of accolades including Cookbook of the Year and First Book/The Julia Child Award at the IACP Cookbook Awards. The book is beautifully laid out with vibrant photos evocative of the bold flavors found in the food. In staying true to its roots, a good deal of attention is paid to the wine of the region as well. From antipasti and vegetable sides to hearty roasts and meatballs – this cookbook makes Italian cooking accessible for any home chef.
Related: Best Italian Food In San Francisco
Chris Cosentino is quickly becoming a household name with frequent Food Network appearances on shows like “The Next Iron Chef,” “Iron Chef America,” “Chefs vs. City” and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” He has built his reputation on his adventurous cooking and work with offal (organ meats) as executive chef at Incanto in Noe Valley and as the co-founder of Boccalone artisanal salumeria in the Ferry Building. After much anticipation, Cosentino released his first cookbook, “Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal,” in May 2012, which is a collection of Italian-style first courses. His followers might be surprised that, despite building a brand around meat, the cookbook features mostly vegetable-based dishes like bean and radish salad and charred fava beans, mint and aioli. The cookbook is organized by seasons, and features vibrant photographs complemented by hand sketches and personal stories from Cosentino.
Mourad Lahlou is a star on the rise over the last several years. In 2009, he won Iron Chef America by the “largest margin in the history of the show.” Then in 2011, Aziza, Lahlou’s contemporary Moroccan restaurant in Outer Richmond, was awarded its first Michelin star. Lahlou is rethinking the Moroccan food he was raised with and is in turn, creating refined dishes with earthy, multidimensional flavors characterized by California cuisine. At the end of last year, he released his first cookbook, “Mourad: New Moroccan.” At the heart of the cookbook is the story of Lahlou’s upbringing and life in Morocco, which is complemented by artful photographs. The book features several chapters on traditional Moroccan recipes like couscous and preserved lemons as well as dishes served at Aziza like lamb shanks with prunes and brown butter faro and saffron-braised onions in cumin broth. With “Mourad: New Moroccan,” Lahlou shows he is more than just a fine chef. He is also a great storyteller.
Jenna Broughton can frequently be found exploring the streets of San Francisco looking for her next adventure and gastronomic delight. She has traveled far and wide, from Paris to Savannah, GA, to satisfy her adventurous palate. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.