Chef Fritz Blank's culinary library helps to illustrate how a homegrown Jersey boy became one of America's foremost French chefs. Since surviving a 1987 Dumpster fire that otherwise gutted Blank's original location of his restaurant, Deux Cheminées, his collection has grown to over 10,000 volumes of cookery books plus recipe pamphlets, menus and other culinary ephemera.

A Chef & His Library examines a paper trail of the influences--from his grandmother's cooking lessons to his career as a clinical microbiologist--that shaped Blank's culinary education and sensibilities. "My library may not be the biggest or the best or the most antiquarian," says Blank, "But it does reflect my tastes."

Blank's egalitarian collecting embraces a range of culinary books from scholarly and esoteric to mundane and even downright tacky.  Here a 1627 banquet book written by a papal household steward shares billing with a 2001 Hooter's pocket menu and a cooking manual for Navy cooks.


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