Cleveland is fortunate to have many great chefs. But the region also is home to dozens of food scribes who are passionate about food both in and out of our town, as well as the bounty our local farm community provides. While the list below does include cookbooks, others take a broader and more insightful approach than mere recipe gathering. Some have been recently published, while others are oldies but goodies, standing the test of time thanks to beautiful art and wonderful anecdotes. And this is just a snapshot of what's available from local authors; once you start digging, you might find that's it's difficult to stop.
The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, by Michael Ruhlman. In this book, the first in a fantastic trilogy about being a professional cook, Ruhlman immerses himself in the education of a chef while a student at the famed Institute. Follow the complete journey of a chef through the author's subsequent books, "The Soul of a Chef" and "The Reach of a Chef."
The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen, by Michael Ruhlman. This one is unique in that it is neither cookbook nor narrative, but rather it's a short but essential guide to cooking that everyone can use. With professional tips expressed in easy-to-understand language, this tome provides the whys and hows of everything from proper seasoning to the importance of mise en place and even how to make great veal stock.
Michael Symon's Carnivore: 100 Recipes for Meat Lovers, by Michael Symon with (Scene dining editor) Douglas Trattner. Symon has never been shy about his carnivorous leanings, and this cookbook is an ode to all things meat, with more than 100 recipes that cover beef, lamb, poultry, game and, of course, pork. There's even a section on side dishes to pair with your meaty mains.
Cleveland Ethnic Eats: The Guide to Authentic Ethnic Restaurants and Markets in Greater Cleveland, by Laura Taxel. This book is the preeminent guide to uncovering many of the varied ethnic restaurants and markets that Greater Cleveland has to offer. The guide is updated frequently, ensuring that the information contained within is current.
In the Kitchen with Cleveland's Favorite Chefs: 35 Fabulous Meals in About an Hour, by Maria Isabella. This book offers a glimpse into the lives of some of Cleveland's best chefs as they whip up speedy meals at home. Recipes are provided by such notables as Michael Symon, Ben Bebenroth, Jonathon Sawyer, Zack Bruell and Karen Small.
Farms & Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate, by Marilou K. Suszko. This book takes the reader on a journey across Ohio's heartland, with visits to local farms like Hartzler Family Dairy, Blue Egg Farm and Killbuck Valley Mushrooms. The stories and recipes expertly highlight why Ohio's governor calls agriculture the "strongest industry in Ohio."
Cleveland Food Memories: A Nostalgic Look Back at the Food We Loved, the Places We Bought It, and the People Who Made It Special, by Gail Ghetia Bellamy. If you grew up in Cleveland, then this is the nostalgic tome you've been pining for. From discussions about Hough Bakery to the beloved popcorn balls at Euclid Beach, this book is loaded with memories that will have meaning for every native Clevelander.
No Reservations Required, by Bev Shaffer and John Shaffer. Bev is the former director for Mustard Seed Market's cooking schools. Now a resident chef at Vitamix, she offers readers recipes that range in complexity from easy to sophisticated, along with tips and tricks that help create restaurant quality meals at home.
Onions, Onions, Onions: Delicious Recipes for the World's Favorite Secret Ingredient, by Linda Griffith and Fred Griffith. With more than 200 recipes starring everything from chives and leeks to scallions and shallots, this book gives the humble onion its due. Published more than 20 years ago, this remains one of the Griffiths' most popular books.
Favorite Recipes from Higbee's Silver Grille, by Judith Karberg and Jane Hazen. Memories of Higbee's are treasured by many a Cleveland native, and the illustrious Silver Grille looms large for those who remember its grandeur. This book includes recipes for some of that restaurant's classic hits like Welsh rarebit and chicken à la king.
The Basic Baby Food Cookbook: Complete Beginner Guide to Making Baby Food at Home, by Julianne E. Hood. This one is a must for parents who are looking for healthier and more affordable food choices than what's stocked on the grocery store shelves. Making baby food is simple and easy, and this book shows you just how to do it.