The Books in the Bathroom at Momofuku Ko

February 4, 2009 | By | COMMENTS


Back in May, when Robyn Lee wrote on Serious Eats about the books in the bathroom at Momofuku Ko, the picture she shared showed just a stack of vintage cookbooks (“African Cooking,” “The Cooking of Italy,” “The Cooking of Japan”) and a few fancier books–Michael Bras’s “Essential Cuisine,” Roger Verge’s “Vegetables in the French Style” and Alain Ducasse’s “Grand Livre De Cuisine”–all displayed, rather simply, above the toilet. Now, as you can see from my picture above, the library has grown exponentially: there are three shelves worth of food-related books in there. Enough that you almost wish you’d get food poisoning so you could spend a long time in there, flipping through all of them. Instead, though, I took a few close up pictures so we can examine EXACTLY what’s on those shelves. Here’s what I found.

The Top Shelf


Ok, at a glance I can see The Big Fat Duck Cookbook and A Day at El Bulli (which is what I got for Christmanukkah this year) but the rest are hard to see. Let’s go closer:


Ah, that’s better. Ok, next to El Bulli, I see: something called Alajmo, Roellinger, The Elements of Taste, Los “Rajos” de La (?) Cocina, something called Cracco, Roger Verge’s Vegetables in the French Style, and the rest I can’t tell. Can you?

The Middle Shelf


Ok, it’s hard to see the left side of the shelf. Let’s go closer:


There I see: Pierre Gagnaire’s “Lucide & Ludique,” a book I can’t make out, Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking, Cuisine (?), Le Livre De Pates, Contemporary French Cuisine, some books not in English and Tetsuya by Tetuya Wakuda.

As far as the other books on the middle shelf, I see the Cafe Boulud Cookbook, The French Laundry Cookbook, Under Pressure, some indecipherables, and–again–”Grande Livre de Cuisine” by Alain Ducasse.

The Bottom Shelf


There it is in full, now let’s zoom in on the left side:


I can’t decipher the book all the way on the left, next to that I see “4 Saisons a la Table,” “Preparez Terrines, Foie Gras Et Sauces,” “The Natural Cuisine of Georges Blanc,” “The Professional Charcuterie Series,” “Essential Cuisine of Michel Bras,” something I can’t decipher, Roger Verge’s “Entertaining French Style,” more indecipherables, “Au Pied de Cochon,” can’t tell, “The River Cottage Cookbook,” Kaiseki, “Great …?” and–finally–the River Cottage Meat Book.


That was exhausting. But we’re not done: let’s see how many of these books are on Amazon. If you buy enough of these books, maybe you too can cook like David Chang!

Books You Need to Build a David Chang Library

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

A Day at El Bulli

That “Alajmo” Book–Ingredienti: Lecalandre (Editions Braus)

Olivier Roellinger’s Contemporary French Cuisine: 50 Recipes Inspired by the Sea

The Elements of Taste

Roger Vergé’s Vegetables in the French Style

I couldn’t find Pierre Gagnaire’s “Lucide & Ludique,” but this looks like a good substitute:

Pierre Gagnaire: Reinventing French Cuisine

Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking

Le Livre De La Pate

Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulud Cookbook: French-American Recipes for the Home Cook

The French Laundry Cookbook

Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide

Le Grand Livre de cuisine d’Alain Ducasse

4 Saisons a La Table No.5

The Natural Cuisine of Georges Blanc

Professional Charcuterie Series

Essential Cuisine of Michel Bras

Roger Verge’s New Entertaining in the French Style

Au Pied de Cochon: The Album

The River Cottage Cookbook

Kaiseki: The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto’s Kikunoi Restaurant

And that, my friends, is your David Chang library. Happy cooking.

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  • Margaret

    This is very cool investigative reporting, but there is something disturbing about cookbooks in a bathroom. Two activities that are inexorably linked, of course, but still…

  • Erin

    OK, there’s something really oogey about the idea touching books that are offered as bathroom timekillers. Do they offer petri dishes of E.Coli and Staph as well?

  • phil

    i’m pretty sure the far right book on the top shelf says “ninja.” which pretty much makes this the coolest bathroom i’ve ever seen…

  • Stephanie

    That’s pretty unique/funny to have cookbooks in the bathroom of a restaurant.

  • Monique

    I agree with Erin, there is something a little disturbing about books that sit in bathrooms. On the other hand I love seeing other people’s cookbook collections. You should give us an update on yours, and maybe have some of your readers share too!!!

  • Sarah

    Adam, you should send him a signed copy of your book to keep in there.

  • TEA

    The rightmost book on the top shelf may be Ninja: The Shadow Warrior by Joel Levy.

    That is not a cookbook, however.

    The cover shown here seems to be a good match for the spine in the photo:

  • Roberto N.

    I see Susur’s book there…

  • BrooklynQ

    Wow. No Food Network chef cookbooks?

    You say this David Chang guy can cook? I don’t think so.

  • BrooklynQ

    Wow. No Food Network chef cookbooks?

    You say this David Chang guy can cook? I don’t think so.

  • Rebecca

    Forget Amazon! The New York Public Library’s impressive culinary collection has a large chunk of the books in this loo. Not every book, that’s true, but enough to make the trip.

  • Laura

    Yes Rebecca! I totally agree…I never buy a cookbook without getting it from the NYC library and testing it out first.

    I think because the collection of books is so great I can look past the grossness of them being in the bathroom.

  • johnny damon

    Bottom picture far left is Sergio Herman’s book.

  • Vivian Kim

    there’s a cute video of david chang talking about his love of cookbooks:

  • Todd

    Between Tetsuya and Cafe Boulud is Arzak, the second best restaurant in Spain. I almost “borrowed” the copy from my hotel while in San Sebastian last year. To bad it was written in spanish. Also looks like another one from Arzak on the bottom shelf.

  • Lucy

    That one (cuisine ?) between the Bocuse book and the pasta book would be Michel Guerard’s Cuisine Minceur (diet cuisine).

  • Lucy

    That one between the Bocuse book & the pasta book would be Michel Guérard’s Cuisine Minceur. A pretty good cookbook!

  • Mark Boxshus

    While having “reading” material at home in the bathroom is something commom place, I find cookbooks in a public men’s room some what disturbing. The hygienic ramifications are endless. If they were displayed inside a tasteful plexi-glass display unit, I’d be all for it.

  • Mouse Bouche

    My boyfriend always makes fun of me for leaving cookbooks strewn around the apartment in bizarre places including the bathroom. But this really takes it to another level…

  • m

    On the middle shelf, those are Japanese books.

    Brown: Soba/ Udon no ouyou gijyutsu= Application Skills of Soba/ Udon

    Blue: Udon no kihon gijyutsu: Basic Skills in Udon

    Soba is the buckwheat noodles and udon is wheat noodles. Yummmm.

  • Robin

    Like Johnny Damon says, the book all the way on the left is called “Sergio”, by Sergio Herman. A dutch 3-star michelin chef.

    I don’t think it’s available in the US. But here is more info (and a photo) from the publisher: