I've seen a few of my favorite chefs come up with a list of their favorite cookbooks recently, and it's always fun to see what they're really in to, and maybe you share an love of a particular book with them. I'm a cookbook junkie, so when I'm not physically cooking, often I'm reading cookbooks - constructing the dishes in my head, thinking about the techniques, forming new associations that I may not have considered before...and marveling at the pictures (food porn...mmmmmm).
So here's a handful that I keep going back to and what I love about them. They're all pretty different, but the common thread that ties them all together is that they succeed in being much more than just a cookbook, or a story book with recipes and pretty pictures. They're books that successfully communicate the philosophy that drives the chef and/or restaurant, and the risk and obsessive determination that goes in to making a world-class restaurant.