This year a number of cookbooks with Bay Area roots made their debuts. Here are a few from iconic cuisines, chefs, bartenders, restauranteurs, chocolatiers and a bakery.

Cuisines: Dona Tomas (Mexican)
Is it easy to get good Mexican food in the Bay Area or is it impossible. The ongoing debate never ends. But you can’t talk about Mexican food anymore without talking about Dona Tomas, a restaurant that has reinvigorated what we think it’s all about. No standard Tex-Mex fare or Taqueria, this is a restaurant that celebrates regional cuisine and uses the best ingredients possible to create something truly special.

Restauranteur: Big Small Plates (Cindy Pawlcyn)
Who doesn’t love the food created by Cindy Pawlcyn? From Fog City Diner to Mustards Grill her recipes have always been about big bold flavors and twists on the classics. In this book Pawlcyn shares credit with two of her chefs who are also her restaurant co-owners. Dishes have a variety of influences and bright flavors–Mexican, French and Asian all find their way into signature dishes from Bix, and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen as well.

Bartenders: The Art of the Bar (Absinthe bartenders)
The bartenders from Absinthe have created a gorgeous coffee table book on cocktails. Read about the history of your favorite drinks and ingredients, all mixed up by the chefs of the bar. Want to make your own bitters? Create syrups flavored with fruit and herbs? Or muddle a kaffir lime leaf? Then this is your book too.

Chef: Michael Mina
Our dual Michelin starred restaurant Michael Mina has produced a cookbook. Having only eaten there once, I was curious to understand what won over the Michelin inspectors. This book shares Mina’s philosophy and artistry which focuses on multiple preparations of ingredients. This is involved restaurant cooking. But the book is written in such a manner that you can take a desired element and make it your own. It also makes a great souvenir of a memorable meal.

Chocolatier: The Essence of Chocolate (Scharffenberger)
A source of local pride, Scharffenberger makes some of the tastiest chocolate in America. In this book you get a chance to follow the journey of the chocolatiers and learn all about how chocolate is produced. The recipes are from some of the best chefs and pastry chefs around, David Lebovitz, Alice Medrich, Elizabeth Falkner, Stephen Durfee, Craig Stoll, Jacques Pepin, the list goes on and on. There are plenty of sweet treats here, but also savory uses for cocoa nibs, one of my favorite ingredients to play with.

Bakery: Tartine
Anyone who’s been to Tartine knows how popular it is from experiencing the line out the door. Recipes are a cross between traditional French and classic American. The local influence is seen with an emphasis on fresh fruits and a more natural style. I haven’t baked from this book yet, but the reports I’ve heard from home cooks and pastry chefs are good. The book has a retro old-is-new-again feel to it, with matte rather than glossy pages and binding that keeps it open during use. Nice.

Bay Area Cookbooks 2006 27 December,2006Amy Sherman

  • Alison

    i just picked up a copy of Big Small Plates by Cindy Pawlcyn this morning and can’t wait to try some of the recipes…..very inspirational!

  • Anita

    I have to say, I was very disappointed with the Dona Tomas cookbook. Many of the recipes I tired were lackluster, and some were outright flawed.

    Big Small Plates is on my wishlist, for sure.

  • Amy Sherman

    I love the Ceviche del Mercado and the gazpacho recipe. I haven’t tried anything else yet. It’s a gorgeous book, sorry to hear you’ve had trouble with the recipes.


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor