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Nominations for the "Oscars" of Cookbooks and Food Writing Are Out

Here are the 42 best books that include food writing and recipes, according to the James Beard Foundation.
Tertulia staff •
Apr 28th, 2023

The James Beard Award ranks among the most prestigious honors in the culinary world. Over the years, it has recognized not only the most talented and influential chefs and food experts, but also highlighted the finest in food writing. From iconic cookbooks that have stood the test of time like Edna Lewis’ The Taste of Country Cooking, Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, to groundbreaking works like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore's Dilemma or Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, these enduring works have redefined the way we eat and how we think about food.

This year, the esteemed New York City-based James Beard Foundation continues this rich tradition with a diverse group of nominees, including an eye-opening exploration of the link between food and race in America, a cornucopia of no-fuss dinners from a New York Times recipe guru, the acclaimed memoir of a gangbanger and ex con who became an elite American chef, plus the mouthwatering secrets of a famed Big Easy eatery. Given the proliferation of cookbooks focusing specifically on bread lately, the foundation has introduced a specific category to recognize the best bread books this year.

To be eligible for the award, books must have been published in the 2022 calendar year. The awards ceremony will take place in Chicago on June 5. Here is the full list of the 2023 nominees for the James Beard Foundation book awards.


The general category includes books that cover a wide range of cooking topics, rather than a specific technique, region, or topic. I Dream of Dinner has been a favorite of ours since we discovered it in this killer review by The New Yorker.

The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress by Andy Baraghani

Baking and Desserts

Among the nominees for the best baking cookbooks, including sweet and savory pastries and desserts, is Claire Saffitz latest, which has been named one of the best cookbooks of 2022 by Bon Appétit, Vice, Saveur and Mother Jones.

New European Baking: 99 Recipes for Breads, Brioches and Pastries by Laurel Kratochvila

Literary Writing

One of this year's narrative nonfiction books has been praised by author and critic Ian MacAllen for “eloquently capturing how the late chef Fatima Ali understood the world through food and cooking.”

California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival by Keith Corbin with Kevin Alexander

Savor: A Chef's Hunger for More by Fatima Ali with Tarajia Morrell

Beverage with Recipes

The nominees in this category offer recipes focused on beverages, including cocktails, beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, or juices, with one of the contenders being an award-winning New Orleans bar's cocktail book that pays homage to the city.

The Bartender's Manifesto: How to Think, Drink, and Create Cocktails Like a Pro by Toby Maloney and Emma Janzen

Beverage without Recipes

A previous James Beard Award winner and veteran wine writer's memoir is among the contenders in this category, which includes books focused on beverages with or without recipes.

Drinking with the Valkyries: Writings on Wine by Andrew Jefford


The acclaimed cookbook-cum-memoir Breadsong, with a title referring to the sound of freshly baked loaves, is among the nominees for the foundation's new category recognizing the best bread books.

Breadsong: How Baking Changed Our Lives by Kitty Tait and Al Tait


These books offer recipes that focus on food or cooking traditions from regions, countries, or communities outside of the United States, such as Mi Cocina, from which a spectacular mole dish has piqued our interest in this Vice review.

Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices by Anita Jaisinghani

Mezcla: Recipes to Excite by Ixta Belfrage

Food Issues and Advocacy

Among the books featuring investigative journalism, food policy, and critical analysis of the changing social landscape is an important exploration of the link between food and race in America.

Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America by Psyche A. Williams-Forson

Reference, History, and Scholarship 

One of this year's nominees in the James Beard category of manuals, guides, encyclopedias, and research-based books related to food or foodways is described as "a valuable addition to agricultural and West African history" in Amy Maxmen's review in Nature.

A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community by Natalia Molina

Restaurant and Professional

This category, which includes books written by culinary professionals or restaurant chefs, includes one nominee described as “a manifesto on the politics of queer identity and food” by cookbook author Von Diaz.

Bludso's BBQ Cookbook: A Family Affair in Smoke and Soul by Kevin Bludso with Noah Galuten

Please Wait To Be Tasted: The Lil' Deb's Oasis Cookbook by Carla Perez-Gallardo, Hannah Black, and Wheeler with Meshell Ndegeocello

Single Subject

Nominees in this category include books with recipes focused on a single ingredient, dish, or method of cooking, such as the latest cookbook of bestselling author J. Kenji López-Alt.

Masa: Techniques, Recipes, and Reflections on a Timeless Staple by Jorge Gaviria

The Wok: Recipes and Techniques by J. Kenji López-Alt

U.S. Foodways 

This category features US regional/community-focused recipe books, like The Woks of Life blog's acclaimed book, which appeared on several 2022 best cookbook lists.

Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island by Emily Meggett with Kayla Stewart and Trelani Michelle

The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love from a Chinese American Family: A Cookbook by Bill Leung, Kaitlin Leung, Judy Leung, and Sarah Leung

Vegetable-Focused Cooking 

The James Beard Foundation recognizes the top books on vegetable cookery featuring meatless, vegetarian, or vegan recipes in this category, with one stand-out being Hannah Che's take on China's plant-based cooking tradition.

Plant-Based India: Nourishing Recipes Rooted in Tradition by Dr. Sheil Shukla


And finally, this category includes books on food or beverage that display remarkable graphic design, art, or photography, such as chef Chris Scott's cookbook on Amish soul food.

Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic, 100% Delicious by Joanna Hu and Armelle Habib

The Sofrito Manifesto by Bernardo Medina, Rafael Montalvo, and Ángelo Álvarez

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