Ben Klasner

Ben Klasner, executive chef, Sycamore

Ben Klasner has spent more than 10 years in the kitchen at Sycamore, working his way up from line cook to executive chef. The acclaimed fine-dining spot in downtown Columbia, Missouri, served as the perfect training ground for Klasner. While former longtime chef Mike Odette had more of a traditional style, he credits Klasner with experimentation and using modern culinary techniques as well as oft-discarded parts, like celery leaves and vegetable peels. Here, Klasner shares the cookbooks that shaped him.

How to Cook a Wolf

How to Cook a Wolf

By M.F.K. Fisher (1942)

“This book should be required reading – not just for anyone interested in cooking, but for every student in this country. Featuring whip-smart essays from one of the most foundational voices in American culinary [history], this book forever changed the way I thought about not only the history of American food systems, but also the ways they can evolve.”

Charlie Trotter

Charlie Trotter's

By Charlie Trotter (1994)

“I found this book on a good friend’s bookshelf all beat up and stained – obviously used in the kitchen, instead of just being something pretty to look at. Upon looking through the book, I felt completely bewildered by the food and at the same time very familiar with it. It became clear to me that this book was a big influence on the people who taught me how to cook. I like to look back on these sun-faded pictures of opaque sauces layered over lovingly prepared and presented dishes and feel a sense of tradition – but also [that I'm a] part of what comes next.” 

Vegetable Literacy

Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom

By Deborah Madison (2013)

“As much as we talk about nose-to-tail eating, we often find so much of our vegetables discarded in the trash without really understanding why. This book helped to ask those questions and to provide those answers – what do you do with all those celery leaves? A gorgeous tribute to vegetables of all shapes, sizes and seasons from seed to flower, and how to eat the whole plant.”

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Nancy Stiles is the managing editor at Feast.

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