A doorstop of a book, Salt Fat Acid Heat is sure to make a statement on your coffee table. In the book, an accompaniment to the hit Netflix series of the same name, chef Samin Nosrat makes the argument that there are four key principals that are used to improve cooking: salt, fat, acid and heat. In this canon of 100 recipes you’ll learn how to master each element to make your own food sing, from a simple, balanced vinaigrette to perfectly caramelised roasted vegetables and tender, warming stews.
If you’ve opted for a sleek, paired back living room but you still want some foodie inspiration of your coffee table, look no further than BAO’s cookbook. Don’t be mistaken into thinking that BAO’s minimalist style extends to the flavours in their recipes though. In this book Erchen Chang, Shing Tat Chung and Wai Ting Chung reveal 100 recipes from their restaurant inspired by Taiwanese street food including noodles, dumplings and the steamed buns that are it’s namesake. These are paired with manifesto-style essays on the concept behind BAO and embracing solitude.
If you love BAO, read our guide to the best new restaurants in London this year.
Best coffee table book exploring the cuisine of a city
Jerusalem is the city where both Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi were born, and forms a great deal of the inspiration for the dishes served at their restaurants across London. Ottolenghi and Tamimi were born in Jerusalem in the same year on different sides of the city — the former in the Jewish side and the latter in the Arab side. This books explores the city that is a magical melting pot of cultures and cuisines with influences from Muslim, Jewish, Arab, Christian and Armenian communities. Fine recipes paired with stunning photography.
The River Café is one of London’s most iconic restaurants. Nestled on the bank of the Thames in West London, it serves Italian fare and was started by chef duo Ruth Rodgers and Ruth Grey. This book is a celebration of the restaurant’s 30th birthday and features over 100 recipes as well as tips and anecdotes from Ruth Rodgers and archive material like bespoke menu artwork from friends of the restaurant.
Offering a picture of life in Ukraine before the invasion, this book from Olia Hercules is inspired by the summer kitchens of her childhood. These small outbuildings were designed with their proximity to the fruit plot or veg patch in mind, so families can enjoy home-grown produce as it comes into season. Recipes for dishes like Borsch with duck and smoked pears and poppy seed babka and interspersed with photography and writing on the people and landscapes of Ukraine. If you’re looking for further inspiration, check out Olia Hercules’s guide to Ukrainian Food: how to cook like a local.
If you’ve got an interest in travel, chances are you’re familiar with Lonely Planet. This guide to Train Travel in Europe by the experts is filled with maps, routes and guidance to take you round the continent. When you think of train travel, the likes of glamourous novels like Murder on the Orient Express might spring to mind. But as we all look for more environmentally friendly ways to see the world, train travel is experiencing a revival and is a great way to visit towns off the beaten track. This coffee table book will provide all the inspiration you need for you next trip. Check out our Europe travel guides for more inspiration.
With over 250 vegetarian recipes, Anna Jones’s The Modern Cook’s Year is the ultimate seasonal guide to eating. Recipes are divided into six season and you can expect delicious creations like elderflower dressed broad beans, rhubarb and rose geranium frozen yoghurt and orzo with tomatoes and feta. Mixed in with the recipes are tips on everything from flowers to keep an eye out for in each month of the year to which music to listen to in each season.
The private members club Soho House has 38 locations across the world. Whether you’ve seen it in the infamous Sex and the City episode where Samantha pretends to be a member of the NYC branch, or you noticed the subtle reference to the Dean Street Townhouse as the site of the Harry and Meghan’s first date from their Netflix documentary, Soho house has somewhat of a cult status. But now you can be in on the secret with this book, the third from the brand, revealing their most popular recipes, design inspirations, stories and tips. Read our review of Kettner’s Townhouse, the hotel, restaurant and Champagne bar by Soho House in London.
Most of us enjoy a cup of coffee to get us ready for the day, but there’s a lot more to know about your morning brew than you might think. Whether you’re a fan of a coffee pod machine, espresso machine, bean-to-cup coffee machine or prefer to go to a coffee shop for a barista-crafted cup of joe, there are so many factors impacting the flavour of each drink. In this guide champion barista James Hoffman takes readers around the world exploring how key characteristics and techniques impact each country’s coffee.
The Dinner Party: A Chef’s Guide to Home Entertaining
Best coffee table book for entertaining
Australian chef Michael Benn, alongside his creative collaborator and wife Vicki Wild, have published the ultimate guide to planning a dinner party. The ideal host’s companion, this book is filled with recipes for different courses, plus details on elements you can prepare ahead, so you can spend time with your guests rather than being hidden away in the kitchen. There are also tips to create the perfect ambiance from wine pairings to music playlists. Filled with beautiful photography, picking up this book from your coffee table will have you dreaming of your next dinner party.
On the Himalayan Trail; Recipes and Stories from Kashmir to Ladakh by Romy Gill
Best coffee table book for stories and recipes
On the Himalayan Trail is a celebration of Kashmiri and Ladkhi cuisine, studded with recipes and photography of the landscape and everyday life in the region. Chef and food writer Romy Gill takes readers on a journey through the medium of food. From Shammi Kebabs (minced lamb patties) to Kanguch yakhni (morels cooked in spicy gravy) learn more about the little known cuisine of this region which is influences by flavours and techniques from Mughal, Persian, Afghan and Central Asian styles of cooking.
Black Food; Stories, Art and More Than 75 recipes From Across the African Diaspora by Bryant Terry
Best coffee table book exploring the African Diaspora
With an eye-catching cover, this award-winning book is as much a joyful celebration of Black culture as it is a cookbook. In it author and food activist Byrant Terry has cultivated a collection of recipes, essays and artwork from over 100 contributors, with chapters exploring different elements of the Black experience including Homeland, Spirituality and Black Future. Recipes stretch from sentimental classics to fresh takes on well-loved favourites from Jenné Claiborne’s Sweet Potato Pie to Suzanne Barr’s Jerk Chicken Ramen.
The World at Your Table; Inspiring Tabletop Designs
Best coffee table book for dinner party inspiration
This book takes you on a journey in creating the perfect table design. From the tropical lushness of Palm Beach to the rustic charm of Provence, author Stephanie Stokes provides inspiration for how to pair design with recipes to turn every dinner party into a culinary and sensory experience. Learn about design principals and how you can apply them within your own home, and be inspired by beautiful photography of table top designs.
Looking for recipe inspiration for your next dinner party? Read our guide for effortless entertaining.
Visual Feast; Contemporary Food Styling and Photography
Best food styling coffee table book
When you leaf through older cookbooks it doesn’t take much to notice how much food styling has changed. With the rise of Instagram and TikTok with more food programmes than we can count, how food looks has arguably become just as important as how it tastes. This collection of photographs showcases food as an art form in itself. It’ll leave you inspired by the possibilities of food styling and probably in need of a snack!
Noma has been named the world’s best restaurant an astonishing four times and fermentation is one of the corner stones of the restaurant, making it’s way into the flavour profiles of many dishes. This book is a collaboration between Noma co-owner and chef Rene Redzepi and head of the restaurant’s fermentation lab David Zilber. Here they share the secret behind Noma’s fermentation techniques so you can recreate them in your own home. With extensive photography this makes a wonderful coffee table book.
With a stylish, classic navy blue cover, Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World would make a welcome addition to any coffee table. Within, the book contains over 600 cocktail recipes from across the world, covering a historic span of 500 years. You’ll learn how to set up the ultimate bar in your own home with practical advice on tools, glassware, garnishes and more. Recipes, from classic cocktails to modern twists, are interspersed with essays on the history of what we drink and how different cultures approach these beverages.
Vogue is known as having the last word in fashion, covering the latest trends and designers from across the globe. But in this book, the editors of American Vogue showcase the use of food in the magazine’s famous pages. The humorous cover would make a great addition to any foodie’s coffee table, and the photography is paired with essays on food by writers including Jeffery Steingarten, Tamar Adler and Oliver Strand as well as interviews with industry-leading chefs.
London is a hub of art, culture, and in our opinion most importantly, food. Pubs with beer-stained carpets, the glitzy private member’s clubs of Mayfair, chippies with parcels wrapped in vinegar-soaked paper, the dim sum restaurants in China Town serving up steaming baskets of dumplings — London is home to it all. This book uses photography to showcase the evolving city from the Victoria period to the swinging 60s to paint a true portrait of our capital city. Read our guide to the best restaurants in London.
The Gourmand’s Egg; A Collection of Stories and Recipes
Best coffee table book for food ingredients
On the surface an egg doesn’t seem like much — the store cupboard staple for a quick meal. But The Gourmand’s Egg does a deep dive into the humble ingredient and proves that it’s so much more. Through a collection of essays, recipes and photography The Gourmand journal explores the history of humanity’s relationship with the egg from the Romans to modern day. As chef, food writer and critic Ruth Reichl says: “In cooking – as in almost every-thing else, it all starts with an egg.”
Food & Drink Infographics; A Visual Guide to Culinary Pleasures
Best visually pleasing food coffee table book
While food is certainly a way of expressing ourselves creatively, there’s no denying that it’s also a science. This books has infographics on everything you need to know to improve your cooking skills, from measurement conversion charts, food groups, recipes, flavour pairings, cooking tools and much more. From mastering sashimi to cooking the perfect steak, this book is a feast for the eyes and will provide new inspiration every time you pick it up from the coffee table.
Located just outside of London beyond the leafy picturesque streets of Richmond, Petersham Nurseries has become a destination for nature-loving foodies, with a plant shop, lifestyle shop, deli and restaurant. This books tells the story of the Bogliones, the family behind Petersham Nurseries, as they developed the small plant nursery next to their home over the course of 20 years. It’s filled with images of the gardens over the changing seasons as well as recipes and home styling tips.
If you’re looking for a show stopping gift or to splash out on a coffee table book, look no further. This book is part of Assouline’s Ultimate Collection, where sommelier Enrico Bernardo envisages the perfect wine cellar filled to the brim with the best wines of the last century. The book has a stunning cover and comes boxed in the same style as many of the expensive bottles it describes. Become a connoisseur of vineyards and grape, learning about the history of the most famous vintages from across the globe. At £1,000 this is as much a piece of art as a coffee table book.
For this list we’ve defined coffee table books as large, hardback books with an impressive cover which uses visuals and well as words in its storytelling. They’re largely for display so the look is important, but they also need to have interesting content so you want to pick it up and leaf through it again and again. Unless you want change up your living room style on a regular basis longevity is key with a style and subject matter you’ll want to return to.
There’s no one-size-fits-all definition when it comes to coffee table books — any book that you think deserves a spot on the coffee table is a coffee table book.
Coffee table books can reflect your home décor and interests. There are many large, hardback books on arts and photography as the format allows for high quality images. Since we have a love of food and travel we’ve focused on books around those subjects in this list, but you could even have some beautiful recipe books on your coffee table.