It’s James Beard Week here in Chicago.
The so-called “Oscars of the food world” go down a week from today.
Among the esteemed Chicago chefs nominated? Sarah Grueneberg, who — if you live in Chicago and love Italian food — you know from the absolutely dynamite restaurant Monteverde in the West Loop.
The Top Chef runner-up is no stranger to competition. She’s currently swinging knives on the Food Network’s Iron Chef Gauntlet.
And for this special culinary edition of Five Books That Changed My Life, we asked Grueneberg for the books that helped shape her career, from her go-to pasta tome to the rock n’ roll biography that defined her youth.
The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy
“This is my go to for pasta research. Many pasta shapes are chronicled alongside with their story, region and type of sauce for each shape. A must-have for anyone serious about pasta!”
The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller
"This was the first book that showcased American fine dining. The pictures, plating styles and creativity of the food were unlike anything I had seen at the time.”
Blood, Bones, Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
"A wonderful book about Chef Hamilton. It is an inspiring book to me. Her story of early food memories and what food and cuisine are to her sit very close to me."
Cordon Bluegrass Cookbook: Blue Ribbon Recipes From Kentucky
“This book housed the first two recipes I ever made at age of 12 — Sherried Shrimp, which was baked shrimp in a sherry parmesan cream sauce served with pasta. And Mediterranean chicken. I was destined to cook Italian food!”
Riders on the Storm by John Densmore
“This book was written by the drummer of the Doors. It is his story of the how the band was started and sky rocketed into super stardom. Also the fall of Jim Morrison. It was the first book I read twice, and a thrilling read during my teenage years of rebellion.”
Main Photo: Huge Galdones