The Piglet

Two New Cookbooks We'd Never Want to Live Without

Piglet round 3 means some tough decisions—and lots of freshly baked bread.

March 28, 2019

The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks is here! Inspired by The Morning News' Tournament of Books, this annual event is where the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year face off in a rousing, NCAA-style bracketed competition. Watch the action and weigh in on the results!

We’re nearing the conclusion of the 2019 Piglet, and the excitement is palpable, my friends. Can you believe how quickly these days have flown by? I can, because I have terrible time management skills.

Season vs. Soul

Judged by Dominque Ansel

Captain Cronut himself has arrived! He begins by reminding us that he is the genius behind the ultra-viral Cookie Shot AND the overly Instagrammed Frozen S’More, AND he reminds us that he is très French, in case you had forgotten. Nik, Todd, and all the rest of us remember exactly who the fuck we’re dealing with.

Ansel mentions he likes a book that tells a story, and then he and his team ignore all the storytelling in favor of some straight test kitchen-style judgment. Dominique Ansel thinks your stories about Grandma’s kitchen are cute, but your grandma never made a shot glass out of a chocolate chip cookie and no one actually cares about her. I absolutely love this approach. It’s about time someone took down America’s grandmas, and only a Frenchman (by the way, he’s French) would have the balls to do it.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“The Ansel recap is SPOT ON!!! My interpretation read (in a French accent) "Stories and memories are niiiice, but my team and I are très better, allow me to demonstrate to you peons." ”
— bhilz

Team Ansel tests six recipes, and they then tell us how all the recipes would be better if they had created them. I cannot stop laughing and officially declare this to be my favorite judgment of the entire Piglet. Ansel has some very serious BDE (brilliant dessert energy), and he really wants us to know about it, like that mom in your kid’s class who got involved in an essential oil pyramid scheme and seriously cannot take a damn hint (I HAVE ALLERGIES, DIANE).

P.S.: Season wins again.

Shaya vs. Bottom of the Pot

Judged by Emily Weinstein

What exactly is a cookbook? This is a question that has been addressed by nearly every judge in the ten year history of The Piglet, and with only one round to go before the final Emily Weinstein’s review finally answers this question for me: nobody effing knows. Her opinion is that they should be for cooking, and knocks Shaya out as a result. Some people want to experience a deep personal connection through an author’s storytelling, and some just want pretty pictures to look at next to the recipes. All of these answers are correct, depending who you ask.

However, this recap belongs to me, and my needs are the only ones that matter. So Emily Weinstein’s opinion that cookbooks are only for cooking is WRONG. We are in a golden age of cookbooks! They are no longer chained to the format of step-by-step lists of ingredients and instructions, no longer emotionally frigid instruction manuals that only show you the “how” instead of the “why." If you’re looking for good recipes, there are literally millions of free ones online you can use. Look up at the top of your screen right now! See how it says “Recipes” between "Features" and "Travel"? Click on that! You will find so many recipes, guys!

Of course, your opinions may be different than mine and different from Emily’s, and that’s OK. The Piglet isn’t about what book truly is “the best,” it’s about peeking into the minds of others and seeing what their relationship with food is like. Sometimes, it makes you see something a bit differently, or maybe it enrages you and makes you appreciate your books a bit more.

These past three weeks were never about the books: They were about learning about our own needs, our own desires. They were also about learning how great I am at doing recaps, and why you should buy my books and send me lots of complimentary messages for absolutely no good reason.

Enjoy the final tomorrow, kids.

What'd you think of Piglet's round 3? Let us know in the comments!

The Piglet—inspired by The Morning News' Tournament of Books—is where the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year face off in a NCAA-style bracketed tournament. Watch the action and weigh in on the results!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • monica
  • Helen
  • bhilz
  • SandraH
  • Cel Wise
    Cel Wise
Allison Robicelli is a James Beard-nominated food writer, a Publisher's Weekly-starred author, and lots of other fun things. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she currently lives with her two sons and four cats in Baltimore, Maryland.


monica March 30, 2019
"... you should buy my books ... "
Allison, do you mean multiple copies of your cupcake book? (sorry, I only own one copy)
Helen March 29, 2019
Well- interested but see no need for profanity and as a Gran maybe he would like my recipe for elephant stew-
bhilz March 29, 2019
The Ansel recap is SPOT ON!!! My interpretation read (in a French accent) "Stories and memories are niiiice, but my team and I are très better, allow me to demonstrate to you peons."
Allison R. March 29, 2019
I expect nothing less from the French.
SandraH March 28, 2019
I have to reread Dominique Ansel’s judgement again but with Allison Robicelli’s voice in my head. Too funny!!
Allison R. March 28, 2019
Try rereading it using Louie Anderson's voice. It's amazing.
Cel W. March 28, 2019
Allison needs a weekly recap article... about everything. Make a note Food52.
Keara D. March 28, 2019
I'm wholeheartedly second this idea
Allison R. March 28, 2019