Inspired by the news from across the pond that Jamie Oliver was kicking Nigella Lawson’s knickers in Christmas cookbook sales, we decided to see how things were selling over here, not for Oliver and Lawson, but for two of our most esteemed American chefs: Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz.
In October, each released a massive, expensive, beautifully photographed cookbook packed with recipes and techniques far beyond the means and abilities of the average home cook. Achatz’s Alinea can be had for $31.50 on Amazon (though it originally listed for 50 bones) and features some 600 recipes in its 416 pages from the molecular gastronomist’s Chicago restaurant. Learn how to make mozzarella balloons and yolk drops in the comfort of your own home! Keller’s Under Pressure goes for $47.25 on Amazon (list price $75) and, in its 295 pages, details the method of cooking sous vide, a technique that typically requires a vacuum packer and an immersion circulator.
Whose book is selling better this holiday season? We pitted Master Keller against his mentoree Achatz…the results after the jump.
According to Nielsen BookScan, Keller’s moved 6,000 copies to date, while Achatz has sold nearly twice that many with 11,000 off the shelves. Has the student surpassed the master? Or has Alinea‘s slightly lower price and broader subject matter, coupled with Achatz’s tongue- cancer-to-James-Beard-award story line, made it an easier sell?