“How to Eat by Nigella Lawson (Random House Australia, 1998) takes me back to my early twenties, living away from home and learning how to cook for myself. My copy of her Forever Summer (Random House, 2002), is also dog-eared and covered in oil splatters, thanks largely to my love of her Happiness Soup and slow-roasted garlic- and-lemon chicken.” – Michelle Coburn, Features Editor
“I learned to cook from my mother’s cookbook shelves – from Phillippa Cheifftz, Ina Paarman and Myrna Rosen – but it was Nigel Slater who taught me the everyday classics like the chicken with basil and lemon, that I still make all the time. I had a horrible housemate in London who I do have to thank for giving me Nigel’s book Real Food (4th Estate, 1998). It taught me to make my first chocolate fondant, my best- ever mashed potato and a hot mushroom sandwich that saw me through two very long, very miserable English winters. I will love it forever.” – Kate Wilson, Editor-In-Chief
“I first spotted a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child et. al (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961) on my dad’s bookshelf and read it, kind of like you would a novel, then reread it when my husband got it for his birthday. I love it for its comprehensiveness and reassuring tone of voice. Like Julia is whispering, ‘You’ve got this.’ ” – Annette Klinger, Features Writer
“I lugged Professional Chef by Hunter, Tinton, Carey and Walpole (Thomson Learning, 2007) around in my backpack all through my studies at the Professional Cooking Academy. I used to cram from it before every practical exam and still refer to it for tricky techniques.” – Hope Malau, Food Assistant
“I love the way Nigel Slater writes about food. In Real Fast Puddings (Penguin, 1993), each recipe starts with a single ingredient, like a lemon. He’ll write an evocative story about it, tell you how to choose it, then give you a simple recipe, like little lemon cream pots. I also love his Real Food (4th Estate, 1998) because of the English classics like Welsh rarebit, which remind me of my gran’s cooking.” – Abigail Donnelly, Food Editor
“I remember feeling really grown up when I got River Café Cookbook Easy by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers (Random House, 2003) from friends for my 30th. It showed me how to make gnocchi – that wasn’t a op! Jamie’s Kitchen by Jamie Oliver (Penguin, 2002) was the first ‘serious’ cookbook I bought myself. The section on fresh pasta alone was a revelation.” – Lynda Ingham-Brown, Senior Copy Editor
“My mom gave me her copy of Lynn Bedford Hall’s Best of Cooking in South Africa (Struik, 1988) when I was still studying. Nothing I’ve ever made from this book has flopped. I always return to it for the moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and the veggie paella.” – Amy Ebedes, Online Editor
Which is your most used cookbook? The dog-eared book that’s covered in spills? Let us know in the comments below!