Chad Colby, the chef in charge of Mozza's Scuola di Pizza as well as the Thursday night salumi bar, could talk about books for days. He says he looks for two things in his food books. “The first is photos. I'm a very visual person. So I get frustrated if there aren't good photos. The second is good storytelling.”
It's the first of those two attributes that draws him to Au Pied de Cochon, the cookbook from Montreal's restaurant of the same name. The book is so visual, it's rightly branded as an “album” rather than a cookbook (although it does include recipes). “I just love the photos,” says Colby. “It's just this glutenous display of the type of food I'm interested in. It's true food porn.
“There's just such joyful passion expressed. We try to be a little more sensible,” he says when comparing his own work at Mozza to Au Pied de Cochon, which is self-described in the book as “a temple to lard.” “Nancy [Silverton] definitely filters. It's nice to have someone like that looking over your shoulder saying, 'maybe not. Maybe pull back a little.'”
On the storytelling side of things, Colby says that Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma is “probably the book that's had the most amount of influence on me. I've read it a bunch of times. It just solidified a bunch of things I felt but couldn't quite articulate.”
Other favorites? The Pleasures of the Italian Table by Burton Anderson. “It reads like an encyclopedia. There are 40 pages on Parmigiano or olive oil, about the history and producers, as well as tasting notes. It's not recipes, it's more of a resource book.” He also turns to Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertolli. “For that one it's about craft. How he handles product. I especially love the braising chapter.”
Check out what other chefs are reading in our Chef's Library archives.
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.