Awia’s Kitchen: My TOP 5 Cookbooks for 2016


How to cull down to just five, all of the cookbooks published in one year?

It’s an impossible task, so I’ll start by saying that I’ve chosen the titles on this list based on a combination of personal opinion, and the following ‘ratings method’.

Each cookbook must ….
– make me excited to get into the kitchen, like right now!
– the recipe photos must inspire, and make you dribble with desire
– include recipes that excite you, not frighten you – well, not too much
– teach new skills or at least try to
– not just be on everyone else’s bestseller or Most Popular list
– promise and deliver on flavour … and, just be downright sexy!

(in no particular order)

1. NEIGHBOURHOOD – Hetty McKinnon
(Pan MacMillan, Australia)

2. GROWN & GATHERED – Matt & Lentil
(Pan Macmillan, Australia)

(Houghton, Miffin, Harcourt)

4. ORGANUM: The Food of Peter Gilmore
(Murdoch Books, Australia)

5. THE SKILLS – Monica Galetti
(Quadrille/Hardie Grant Publishing)




Hetty McKinnon
ISBN: 9781743538982

What’s not to love about this foodie fairy tale? Hetty, chef at Arthur Street Kitchen in Sydney’s Surry Hills, relocates to Brooklyn, NYC, and through her cookbook, shares with us her new community of foodie friends and recipes.

NEIGHBOURHOOD follows her previous book named, COMMUNITY, and includes a selection of plant-based recipes for salads and sweets which are modern, and delicious.

McKinnon also includes some of her Brooklyn-based friends in a section at the back of the book which shows ‘what food my friends would bring on a plate’ and includes their recipes.

And Hetty’s friends are good cooks – who wouldn’t like to eat a slice of Rhubarb Custard Tart with a macadamia shell with raspberry ice crumbled over the top? Not you? That’s OK, I’ll eat your slice.

Grown and Gathered Cover SI.indd

Matt & Lentil
ISBN: 9781743547410

‘Recipes and practical guides to grown, cook, preserve, trade, and live well.’

GROWN & GATHERED includes wholefood recipes from Matt and Lentil Pubrick’s seasonal, and regional diet.

It’s impossible not to fall in love with a book like this – or its authors Matt and Lentil. They’ve named the chapter titles in their book to convey their holistic food message: Observe. Grow. Gather. Nurture. Trade. Seek. Eat.

It’s a lovely book, and while it doesn’t aim or claim to be vegetarian, it’s chock full of plant-based recipes, as well as those using protein.

In their own words Grown & Gathered includes recipes for, “Cultured butter, feta and sourdough starter, our much asked-for long ferment gluten-free sourdough bread, sourdough pastas, sourdough crumpets, traditional fermented dill pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and natural wine. Or try our pear and eggplant kasundi, green tomato ketchup, or home-cured and smoked bacon, and home-cured tuna.”

There’s plenty here to nurture your spirit and your palate.


Dominique Crenn
ISBN: 9780544444676

This is Dominique Crenn’s debut cookbook. Crenn was the first female American chef to win 2 Michelin stars for her restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco.

The bird’s nest shown on the front cover is symbolic of the restaurant logo and what she calls “the conjunction of art and nature.”

In Crenn’s culinary world, it seems art, fantasy and food collide.
Her creativity is to be applauded, awarded, and rewarded.

Her recipe for ‘Walk in the Forest’ – made of burnt pine meringue, and crunchy hazelnut – looks truly Dali-esque.

While appearing minimalist her cooking is about crafting food into a work of art, but without pretention.

Crenn doesn’t expect home cooks to religiously follow her recipes – one is seven pages long. Instead, she hopes to inspire cooks to worship food and act accordingly in their own kitchen.

This is Crenn’s interpretation of fish and chips…


With corkage at USD$50 per 750 ml at restaurant Atelier Crenn, buying the cookbook could be an economically sound investment to browse as you uncork your favourite bottle.


ORGANUM: The Food of Peter Gilmore
ISBN: 9781743368633

Australian Peter Gilmore is the Executive Chef of Quay restaurant which overlooks Sydney Harbour, and is a short stroll from Sydney Opera House.

Quay has been included in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and cookbook ORGANUM delights in food as opera – exhibiting texture, beauty, drama, colour, and style.

Gilmore aims to create “original cuisine where texture, purity of flavour and balance is paramount” and the recipes in ORGANUM are simply stunning.

Just take a look at the creativity of execution of his recipe for Walnut Floss, Bitter Chocolate Black Pudding, Fungi below, right. Or the part art, part engineering, precision of South Australian Octopus & Agretti, below left.

A seat at Quay overlooking Sydney Harbour Opera House on New Year’s Eve will cost you AUD$1500 per person, and while it may be a little out of my reach, diners will receive a degustation menu and absolutely the best fireworks in the world.


Monica Galetti
ISBN: 9781849497640

Whether you’re an amateur chef, or a professional looking to refresh basic cooking skills, it’s nice to have a cache of smart, easy to follow instructions for essential kitchen fundamentals.

THE SKILLS includes how to: joint a chicken, prepare a rack of lamb, fillet fish, or make basics like sauces, mayonnaise, pasta, meringues, caramel, and soufflé, breads, and pastries.

Then it’s on to the next level, with recipes that include her popular Braised artichoke with bacon and gin; Tartare of salmon; Roast lamb with peppers and olives; and Salt caramel chocolate ganache and Apricot sabayon.

Monica Galetti was born in Samoa and raised in New Zealand and is now one of the best-known female chefs in the UK through various food-related television roles, including appearing as a judge on MasterChef (UK).

Galetti launched, and was Head Chef at restaurant Le Gavroche des Tropiques in Mauritius.

In 2017 Monica and her husband David will open a new restaurant, called Mere, in London.

Also a special mention for these two titles:
PETAL, LEAF, SEED: Cooking with the treasures of the garden by Lia Leendertz
THE HEALTHY HEDONIST: 40 Naughty but Nourishing Cocktails by Nicole Herft