Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joanne Chang, What Are You Reading?

Growing up in a traditional Chinese household, Joanne Chang didn’t experience sweet desserts after meals until she was introduced to them by friends. Luckily for us, she did indeed develop a sweet tooth which led her to a serious interest in desserts and pastries. Sure, she dabbled in consulting after graduating with honors from Harvard with an Applied Mathematics and Economics degree, but soon enough, she began her career in food. After working at a few restaurants in Boston, she took the opportunity to work as a pastry cook at Payard Patisserie in New York before returning to Boston to open her own bakery. The name of that bakery, Flour, comes from the idea that even the most complex things start with basic elements. Today, there are three locations of Flour Bakery and Cafe, and Joanne is also an owner of Myers + Chang with her husband Christopher Myers. Last October, her book Flour was released, and I’ve been having a great time baking from it. The book will be celebrated this Sunday at the The Beard House in New York where Joanne will prepare a sweet and savory brunch including her famous sticky buns, smoked salmon tartines, bacon quiche, and brioche doughnuts with chocolate pudding. I managed to steal a moment of her time this week to ask, what are you reading?


Thai Street Food by David Thompson- a truly gorgeous book. As inspiring as Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet was to me when we first opened Myers+Chang. The recipes are all authentic and he doesn't take shortcuts. His exploration of the street foods of Thailand make you want to jump on the next plane to SE Asia. The photos are mouthwatering and the people watching from the book's vantage point is like being there.

My Bread by Jim Lahey- I love his method of bread baking and have had such success with it at home. I love bread and My Bread allows me to enjoy it more easily at home.

Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson- I'm as in love with this book as I am with Tartine, the pastry book. The methodical and professional explanation of how to make bread are terrific for someone like me who knows a bit about bread but wants to learn more.

The Sweeter Side of Amy's Breads by Amy Scherber- Amy's Breads is my must-see place whenever I go to NYC. Of course the breads are great but over the years I've fallen in love with Amy's scones and cookies and cakes, all of which are in this book. She has a great matter of fact way of explaining the recipes and stories behind them that I always enjoy reading.

Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton- My husband got an advance copy and I read it in one sitting. Prune is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC and I found Gabrielle's life story fascinating. She's lived about a million lives in one and she's the real deal.

Thank you for participating, Joanne. Check back to see who answers the question next time and what other books are recommended.

Previous WAYR posts:
Jaden Hair
Michael Ruhlman
Monica Bhide
Michael Natkin
Sara Roahen
Andrea Nguyen
David Lebovitz
Rick Bayless
Tara Austen Weaver
Mollie Katzen
Deborah Madison
Soup Peddler
Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan
Robb Walsh
Kim Severson
David Leite
Dan Lepard
Carolyn Jung
Joan Nathan
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Dianne Jacob
Zoë Francois
Yotam Ottolenghi
Lucinda Scala Quinn
Barbara Lynch
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Cheryl Tan


  1. Great books! The Tartine bread book is magnificent and I am looking forward to buying the Thai Street Food cookbook.



  2. I saw her on the Food Network once, making those sticky buns!
    Lots of good bread book suggestions here, Lisa. And I've already pre-ordered Gabrielle Hamilton's book. I love Prune!

  3. Lisa
    I really enjoy this column of yours; I would love to read any one of these books but the Thai street food one really got my attention!

  4. These all look great! I have been hearing a lot about the last one - it's on my list!

  5. Great books! I love the Tartin pastry book. Lots of wonderful recipes with very detailed descriptions. By the way, your German chocolate cake looks superb.

  6. Blood, bones and butter looks really interesting... and what a great title!

  7. I just bought Joanna's Flour, great book, even for beginners :)

  8. Flour is a bakery that I am really looking forward to visiting one day, I've heard amazing things about Joanne. Also these are a great selection of books that she is reading, all of which I think should be staples in my kitchen.

  9. What great titles & I'll look forward to keeping an eye out for these books too.

  10. Love this column, love Flour and *love* her selections! Great post!

  11. What fun reads - Flour is such a great place!

  12. I recently bought a good book. Thomas Keller wrote. I think a very good book. If it becomes possible, then post as I could write about it.

  13. Geat list, the Thai Street Foods is crying out to be studied, but then so is Flour. Love the other foods she had recipes for in, I think it was the November issue of Food and Wine.


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