Top 5: Neil Ferguson
Monteverde’s acclaimed chef on his favorite cookbooks
In July 2007, Neil Ferguson brought his toque, talent, and years of experience in such celebrated three-star Michelin restaurants as L’Esperance in Burgundy, L’Arpege in Paris, and Gordon Ramsay in London and Manhattan, up the Hudson to Cortlandt Manor. Now Executive Chef of Monteverde at Oldstone Manor, he continues to dazzle diners with his talented take on modern American cuisine. Here, Chef Ferguson shares the titles of his five most trusted cooking bibles.
1) Great Chefs of France, Quentin Crewe and Anthony Blake
“Pure inspiration” is how Ferguson describes this title showcasing the three-star restaurants of France, circa 1977. “Guerard, Verge, Bocuse, Chapel, etc., are the chefs involved,” he says. “It gives such insight into these great kitchens and really conveys the passion and the feeling that they gave to their craft.” Because he credits this book with fueling his own passion, Ferguson refers to it regularly.
2) La Cuisine C’est Beaucoup Plus Que Des Recettes,
Ferguson calls this book’s author, the late Alain Chapel, “the person I look up to and would have loved to have worked under. He said something I will never forget: ‘Cooking is an act of love. It comes from the heart, through the fingers, and to the plate.’”
3) On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee
Every young cook should take the time and effort to read this classic, urges Ferguson. “It has no glossy pictures and can be hard going at points,” he admits. “But it gives you such great background information and understanding of why different food types do what they do when prepared, treated, or cooked a certain way.”
4) Letters to a Young Chef, Daniel Boulud
Ferguson first became aware of this title when a British trade magazine sent it to him to review—and he remains grateful to this day that it did. “Every cook should read it,” he says. “It is written as if each chapter is a letter to a young chef just beginning his career. It covers various areas of the job and advises him on how to conduct himself and approach these areas.”
5) Culinary Artistry, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
Describing it as a useful tool to jog his memory, Ferguson says this is the book that he regularly pulls off his bookshelf when he’s working on a menu or dish. “It is so well written and laid out. At its heart it is a list of flavor marriages and pairings, with methods and techniques for those ingredients. But the chapters surrounding these lists explain how various chefs go about creating a menu.”