J. Kenji López-Alt is the award-winning author of The Food Lab and the top culinary adviser of SeriousEats. He recently published a picture book, Every Night Is Pizza Night, inspiring this list of books that have helped him as a chef and a parent.
Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett (2008).
I read this book before our daughter, Alicia, was born, and it became the foundation of our approach to feeding her. By introducing children to solid foods as soon as they can sit upright, you improve their eating habits, help develop hand-eye coordination, and prepare them for a lifetime of healthy eating.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (1979).
I recently started reading Ende's fantasy classic each night to my daughter. It's tough to say who is enjoying it more. Even as an adult, I continue to discover new layers of meaning with each reading. (And I admit: I love it when my daughter hops on my back and pretends I'm her "luck dragon.")
Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton (2009).
Another indispensable (and uproariously funny) guide for parents who love food and desperately want their children to as well. It perfectly balances memoir, practical advice, and recipes, along with the reassurance that your kid is not going to love everything you love, and that's OK.
Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young (2010).
In this classic, cookbook writer Grace Young presents a wok master class that is sensitive to the restrictions and desires of Western readers. Nothing beats a wok for versatility and cooking up healthy, quick, weeknight meals, and Young's book helps me make the most of it.
We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (2018).
The best children's books captivate children and parents alike. In this story, Penelope Rex is caught literally eating her (human) classmates on her first day of school (she spits them out after the teacher scolds her). It's hilarious and clever, and wonderfully speaks to the fears children face when making new friends.
The Apprentice by Jacques Pépin (2003).
Whether or not you grew up watching Jacques Pépin, his memoirs offer a fascinating look at restaurant culture at the height of haute cuisine and the development of the TV chef, all told with his signature humbleness and dedication to craft. Through his early shows and books, Jacques Pépin taught me how to cook. In The Apprentice, he taught me how to be a teacher.
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