From pastry chef Brooks Headley’s punk-rock inspired Fancy Desserts and TV superstar Ina Garten’s best-selling Make It Ahead, to blogger Mimi Thorisson’s idyllic A Kitchen in France and even the controversial Thug Kitchen debut, there was reason to celebrate in 2014 if you love cookbooks. It was a banner year for the genre.
One of the books that landed on our desks at Yahoo Food received little fanfare, yet it was the volume we revisited time and time again. Amy Chaplin’s At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen (Roost Books) made us want to empty our pantries, clean out our refrigerators, and rethink our approach to mealtime. Her kinder, gentler, healthier ways captivated us. Most importantly, we wanted to make every recipe she included.
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen is a cookbook you will want to spend time with and actually read. There’s Chaplin’s lovely introduction that stretches from her bohemian childhood on a farm in New South Wales, Australia, to her culinary adventures in Amsterdam and America. She includes smart segments on cleanses and organic produce; a killer list of resources; and a thorough introductory chapter about her essential basics, equipment, and philosophies. (Composting and plastic avoidance are key.) You might look through the book once or twice before you realize all the recipes are vegetarian or vegan.
Art directed by Stephen Kent Johnson, it’s a beautiful book, printed on matte paper and filled with simple, mouthwatering photos by Johnny Miller. The serenity of Kent Johnson’s design matches Chaplin’s mindset.
A little background on Chaplin. She was the head chef at Angelica Kitchen, the landmark vegetarian restaurant in New York City, and went on to work as a private chef for celebs such as Natalie Portman and Liv Tyler. Today, she continues to work as a private chef and recipe developer.
“Through this book, my intention is to inspire you to seek out ingredients that have been grown with reverence for the environment, find a deeper connection to the natural world, and above all else, to cook more,” she wrote in the introduction to At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. “This book is the culmination of my life with food thus far, and I hope it will inspire you on your own food journey.”
More from this book:
What is your favorite cookbook of 2014?