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The James Beard Foundation Book Awards

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • May 11, 2023

The 2023 James Beard Foundation Book Award finalists have been announced and the extensive list of foodie titles—including cookbooks, memoirs, and more—has got our collective mouths watering. Divided into a variety of sections, these books run the gamut from food advocacy to international fare to plant-based cooking. Find your next gastronomical adventure!

Baking and Desserts

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

This collection is presented by Laurel Kratochvila, an American-born, boulangerie-trained baker with her own Jewish bakery and bagel shop in Berlin. Recipes such as Baltic rye bread, soft pretzels, and spicy ginger caramel shortbreads combine Old World traditions with twenty-first century flavors.

Tava: Eastern European Baking and Desserts from Romania & Beyond

This meticulously researched baking book by Irina Georgescu celebrates centuries of diversity and overlapping cultures that form today's cuisine in Romania. Recipes like Armenian pakhlava, Saxon plum pies, and Hungarian langosi are easy to follow, beautifully photographed, and thoroughly tempting.

What's for Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People: A Baking Book

Claire Saffitz returns with 100 recipes for dessert people—whether you're into impressive-yet-easy molten lava cakes, comforting rice pudding, or decadent chestnut brownies. In this all-new collection, Claire shares recipes for icebox cakes, pies, cobblers, custards, cookies and more.

Beverages with Recipes

The Bartender's Manifesto: How to Think, Drink, and Create Cocktails Like a Pro

Take a raucous romp through the essential stages of fashioning cocktails and learn the hows and whys of bartending with acclaimed Chicago mixologist Toby Maloney. Learn how to replicate classic cocktail recipes, while also embracing ingenuity to create original, inspired recipes.

Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em from the Award-Winning Bar

Owner of renowned New Orleans bar Cure, Neal Bodenheimer and coauthor Emily Timberlake tell the city's story through 100 cocktails, each chosen to celebrate NOLA's past, present, and future. Along the way, the reader is taken on a journey that highlights the rich history and complexity of the city

Wild Brews: The Craft of Home Brewing, from Sour and Fruit Beers to Farmhouse Ales

The head brewer at East London's Wild Card Brewery, Jaega Wise is one of the UK's experts in wild fermentation. Whether you're a beer geek or a home brewing novice, this inspiring manual contains everything you need to replicate today's sour and wild beer styles at home.

Beverage Without Recipes

Drinking with the Valkyries: Writings on Wine

For renowned expert Andrew Jefford, wine should be listened to and admired, wherever it comes from; old-school pretentions turned on their head; style-points disdained; stellar prices dismissed; and questions asked. In this collection of essays, he shares his observations from half a century of discovery.

Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth

Whether you're a sake novice or an experienced connoisseur, this stunning guide offers fascinating insights, practical tips, and rich stories about this popular beverage. Authors and experts Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay present an engaging and informative look at the world of sake.

To Fall in Love, Drink This: A Wine Writer's Memoir

Alice Feiring is a special sort of wine writer—who dares to disagree with the "experts." This is both her love letter to wine and a lifelong coming-of-age story. These candid, wise, and humorous personal essays are paired with helpful wine tips addressing questions around age, price, grapes, vineyards, and vintners.


Breadsong: How Baking Changed Our Lives

After a long struggle with depression and anxiety, Kitty Tait discovered the redemptive power of baking at the side of her father, Al Tait, who was making bread. One loaf quickly escalated into an obsession and nine months later, they opened the Orange Bakery. This is their collection of life-saving recipes.

The Miller's Daughter: Unusual Flours & Heritage Grains: Stories and Recipes from Hayden Flour Mills

With 80 glorious recipes and beautiful, candid stories that celebrate the heritage grain movement, Emma Zimmerman shows readers how grains can be used to elevate our meals every day. This is the story of a mill restarted, of near-extinct grains rescued, and the nourishing dishes created and enjoyed along the way.

The Perfect Loaf: The Craft and Science of Sourdough Breads, Sweets, and More

Beloved blogger and baker Maurizio Leo brings his detailed techniques, foolproof recipes, and generous teaching style to a groundbreaking debut cookbook. From pan loaves to pizza to doughnuts, all bread-heads, whether newbies or experienced bakers, will learn how to raise their sourdough game.

Food Issues and Advocacy

Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America

Sustainable culture—what keeps a community thriving—is essential to access and equity, and food is central to this fight. Starkly exposing the rampant shaming and policing around how Black people eat, Psyche A. Williams-Forson contemplates food's role in cultural transmission, belonging, homemaking, and survival.

Gastronativism: Food, Identity, Politics

In an era of nationalist and exclusionary movements, food has become a potent symbol of identity. Why has eating become so politically charged? Fabio Parasecoli explores the phenomenon of "gastronativism," the ideological use of food to advance ideas about who belongs to a community and who does not.

Retail Inequality: Reframing the Food Desert Debate

Documenting the struggles of two Black neighborhoods in South Carolina, Kenneth H. Kolb outlines the history of deindustrialization, urban public policy, and racism that are the cause of unequal access to food today. His findings? The battle over food deserts was never about food—it was about equality.


The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress

Food writer and social media star Andy Baraghani shows how to hone your cooking style with techniques and flavor combinations that maximize flavor in minimal time. Surefire recipes include: Caramelized Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter Harissa; Sticky, Spicy Basil Shrimp; and Tangy Pomegranate-Chicken.

I Dream of Dinner (so you don't have to): Low-Effort, High-Reward Recipes

With minimal work and maximum joy in mind, Ali Slagle's no-nonsense, delicious recipes (half are plant-based!) are ideal for dinner tonight—and every night. From Fish & Chips Tacos to Farro Carbonara, all come together with fewer than eight ingredients and forty-five minutes, using one or two pieces of cookware.

Sunday Best: Cooking Up the Weekend Spirit Every Day

At the core of chef Adrienne Cheatham's debut book is the sense that everyday moments should be celebrated and appreciated. She draws from her Southern roots with recipes like a feast-worthy pork roast crusted with pecans and Brussels sprouts tossed with a nutty brown butter.


Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices

Award-winning chef Anita Jaisinghani shows just how easy, delicious, and healthy Indian food can be. Expect to be wowed with new flavors and combinations, such as Saffron Citrus Pilaf, Coconut Lassi, Jackfruit Masala, Vindaloo Ribs, Avocado Mushroom Chilla, and Smoked Eggplant Raita.

Mezcla: Recipes to Excite

In her first solo cookbook, Ottolenghi protégé Ixta Belfrage—loved for her inventive ingredient combinations—shares her favorite mezcla (mix) of flavors inspired by Italy, Brazil, Mexico, and beyond. Creative recipes include Chiles Rellenos with Salsa Roja Risotto and Shrimp Lasagna with Habanero Oil.

Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico

Join Rick Martinez on a culinary journey with this set of recipes based on his travels throughout Mexico. Highlighting the diversity, richness, and complexity of the cuisine, he offers dishes and techniques spanning 32 states, 156 cities, and 20,000 incredibly delicious miles.

Literary Writing

California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival

From finding culinary ingenuity in prison to becoming head chef of a world-class restaurant, Keith Corbin is a rising star in the food world. His sharply crafted and unflinchingly honest memoir traces the origins of his vision for "California soul food" and takes readers inside his extraordinary journey.

Savor: A Chef's Hunger for More

Appearing on Top Chef, twenty-nine-year-old Fatima Ali emerged as a bright new talent in the field. But before the show even aired, Fati was diagnosed with bone cancer. This memoir, written in her final months, tells her story as a brown girl who set out to make a name for herself, her food, and her culture.

To Boldly Grow: Finding Joy, Adventure, and Dinner in Your Own Backyard

When Tamar Haspel and her husband moved from Manhattan to Cape Cod, they decided to start growing, foraging, and hunting their own food. Her love-letter to the unexpected delights (and occasional despair) of "first-hand food" has been described as "part memoir, part how-to guide and wholly delightful."

Reference, History, and Scholarship

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

MacArthur Genius Natalia Molina traces the life's work of her grandmother. Known to all as Doña Natalia, she was the generous, reserved, and extraordinarily capable woman behind the Nayarit, a restaurant in Los Angeles that served as a vital gathering place for a robust community.

Slaves for Peanuts: A Story of Conquest, Liberation, and a Crop That Changed History

Americans consume over 1.5 billion pounds of peanut products every year. But few of us know the peanut's tumultuous history, or its intimate connection to slavery and freedom. In this lyrical account, Jori Lewis deftly weaves together the natural and human history of a crop that transformed the lives of millions.

What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make

For centuries, Western science has promoted a human- and animal-centric framework of what counts as action, agency, movement, and behavior. But Michael Hathaway challenges this orthodoxy, showing how fungi shape our planet and our lives in strange, diverse, and often unimaginable ways.

Restaurant and Professional

Bludso's BBQ Cookbook: A Family Affair in Smoke and Soul

A native of Compton, California, Kevin Bludso grew up spending the summer in Texas, where he worked long, hot hours at his granny's legendary BBQ stand. Here, the renowned pit boss teaches you everything you need to know about BBQ from caring for your pit to selecting cuts to rubs, sauces, and more.

Please Wait To Be Tasted: The Lil' Deb's Oasis Cookbook

Chefs Carla Perez-Gallardo and Hannah Black have created a welcoming, inclusive community, where guests are treated to "hot, sticky, juicy, moist fever dreams of flavor." Their recipes put a twist on cultural traditions: Ceviche Mixto with Popcorn; Sweet Plantains with Green Cream, Abuela's Flan, and more.

Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin' in New Orleans

Mason Hereford grew up in rural Virginia, where his formative meals came at modest country stores and his family's holiday table. Now he shares lively twists on beloved Southern dishes, like potato chip-loaded fried bologna sandwiches, deviled-egg tostadas with salsa macha, and his mom's burnt tomato casserole.

Single Subject

Masa: Techniques, Recipes, and Reflections on a Timeless Staple

Want to learn how to make a perfect taco? It all starts with the masa. Like sourdough before it, craft masa is on the brink of a global culinary movement. Jorge Gaviria shows you how to create this special building block from scratch and how to use it to make tortillas, pozole, tamales, and more.

The Miracle of Salt: Recipes and Techniques to Preserve, Ferment, and Transform Your Food

Naomi Duguid invites readers and cooks on a deep dive into the miracle of salt and its essential role in preserving, fermenting, and transforming food. Learn age-old techniques and recipes for making everything from basics like kimchi, prosciutto, and brined eggs to impressive main dishes and desserts.

The Wok: Recipes and Techniques

For fast, fresh cooking for his family, there's one pan J. Kenji López-Alt reaches for more than any other: the wok. Featuring more than 200 recipes, like Kung Pao Chicken, Pad Thai, and San Francisco-Style Garlic Noodles, this comprehensive guide provides endless ideas for brightening up dinner.

U.S. Foodways

Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island

A lifelong resident of the Gullah community of South Carolina, 89-year-old Emily Meggett still cooks for hundreds of people out of her hallowed home kitchen. Her rich, flavorful Gullah recipes—lighter and more seasonal than other types of Southern cooking—uses fresh-caught seafood, local game, and veggies.

I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef

A Vishwesh Bhatt dish conjures an evolving American South. Peanut Masala-Stuffed Baby Eggplant alongside fried okra, tossed in tangy chaat masala. Collard-Wrapped Catfish with a spicy Peanut Pesto. These much-loved dishes have already earned Bhatt a James Beard Best Chef Award.

The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love from a Chinese American Family

This is the story of a family told through food. Judy (mom) and Bill (dad) speak to traditional dishes. Daughters Sarah and Kaitlin bring veggie-forward and one-dish sensibilities. Along with dishes like Cantonese Roast Duck and Salt-and-Pepper Fried Oyster Mushrooms, you'll get plenty of Chinese cooking tips and tricks.

Vegetable-Focused Cooking

Plant-Based India: Nourishing Recipes Rooted in Tradition

During his medical training, Dr. Sheil Shukla discovered the power of plant-based nutrition to prevent and manage chronic illness. So began his mission to reinvent the classic vegetarian Gujarati fare of his heritage, from a comforting Palak Tofu, to vegan Nan to summery Chocolate Chai Mousse with Berries.

In Praise of Veg: The Ultimate Cookbook for Vegetable Lovers

Food writer Alice Zaslavsky has written the definitive guide for everyone—from vegan to carnivore—who is ready to embrace the world of veg possibilities. Learn how to handle any vegetable you come across, along with a rainbow of more than 150 recipes that put veggies at the center of the plate.

The Vegan Chinese Kitchen: Recipes and Modern Stories from a Thousand-Year-Old Tradition

When Hannah Che decided to become a vegan, she worried that it would separate her from the traditions that her Chinese family celebrated. But that was before she learned about zhai cai, the age-old plant-based cuisine featuring delicious dishes like Blistered Dry-Fried String Beans or Sweet and Sour Tofu.


Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic, 100% Delicious

As immigrants with Chinese heritage, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu spent their formative years wondering how they fit in. Food was a huge part of that journey. Their gorgeous cookbook celebrates their blending of cultures through food with a bounty of Chinese-influenced dishes from all over South-East Asia.

Homage: Recipes and Stories from an Amish Soul Food Kitchen

Renowned chef Chris Scott draws from his own heritage to create a unique cuisine, Amish soul food. This stunningly photographed collection includes 100 dishes, like Chicken Fried Steak with Sassafras Country Gravy and Charred Radicchio Salad with Roasted Grapes and Shaved Amish Cheddar.

The Sofrito Manifesto

Artist Bernardo Medina's beautiful cookbook began simply as a project of compiling the recipes of his two abuelas, Inés Alonso Montijo and Emilia Medina. His resulting tribute is accompanied by stories, eye-popping food photography, paintings, and pull-out posters in Medina's defining style. (This work is not currently available at ThriftBooks)

Winners of the James Beard Media Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago on June 3. We wish all of these excellent candidates the best of luck! And in the meantime, we look forward to sampling some of these delicious and diverse flavors in our own kitchens!

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