The most expensive cookbook

Money and books

Jane and I were chatting the other day and the question arose: Which is the most expensive cookbook? We weren't discussing used or historical books auctioned off or resold, but currently available books for sale on Amazon or in bookstores. The discussion was inspired by the announcement of a March publication date for Ferran Adrià's new book(s) - seven volumes for $487

Adrià, of course, is the chef of elBulli which, during its tenure, was labeled by many as the best restaurant in the world. Along with Heston Blumenthal, Adrià is considered to be the father of molecular gastronomy (although he dislikes the term, preferring "deconstructionist.)"

The book (elBulli 2005-2011) will actually be seven volumes, one for each year the restaurant was in operation. It  is described as follows:  "Each of the first six volumes comprises a catalogue of color photographs for each dish developed in the corresponding season accompanied by detailed recipes explaining how to create every component. There are notes on hard to find ingredients, techniques, finishing and presentation. Following elBulli's unique menu structure, the recipes are divided by courses: cocktails, snacks, tapas, pre-desserts, desserts and morphings.  The seventh volume, Evolutionary Analysis, focuses on the creative evolution of the restaurant, tracking key discoveries and products, and examining the influences and creative methods that were prominent during each of elBulli's seasons."

But Adrià is not going to overthrow the current champion. Still holding the title is the 2011 6-volume Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold, et al., currently selling on Amazon for $525.00. An homage to scientific gastronomy, the book is described as containing "science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking."

But just to make certain the Modernist is the champ, we did a little internet research and found this collection of 9 of the Most Expensive Cookbooks...Ever on Huff Post Books. It includes several historical books - and a $2,000 Dom Perignon cookbook that had a very limited printing - but none that exceeded Modernist Cuisine and could be considered a mainstream publication. (Heston Blumenthal did have a book in this list: The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is not cheap, priced at $161).

So Modernist Cuisine still holds the prize. And here's one more fact that we found extremely interesting (courtesy of MC's publicist): MC to date has sold over 50,000 copies, in 5 languages - total revenue well in excess of $25,000,000. And that ain't peanuts.



  • booksforcooksAU  on  11/19/2013 at 1:14 AM

    L'Art de Guy Martin bilingual (Japanese/English) published by Super 2009 probably trumps Modernist for price (if not revenue)

  • boardingace  on  11/22/2013 at 12:15 AM

    Reminds me of college textbook prices :)

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