Best Restaurant Books – For the Chef/Business Owner in You

Running a successful restaurant in today’s highly competitive market isn’t easy. The increase in cooking programs on TV and YouTube masterclasses make every person believe they’re a great chef, and expectations in food and service reached new and dizzying heights.

How do you make sure that your restaurant is running effectively and efficiently, allowing you to stay ahead of the game? Two ways you can instantly stay ahead of your competition are by hiring a strong team and watching your waste.

1. Hire a Strong Team

Before you even try to win more customers, make sure you have a winning team behind you. Find out what their goals and aspirations are. If they want to make more money, help them by offering customer service training to increase their tips.

A happy team is highly dependent on you as a manager. Are you a good manager? Consider searching for ways in which you can improve as a manager to help them stay motivated, feel like a valued member of the team, and enjoy their work.

2. Watch Your Waste

Design your menu around a smaller number of ingredients. By featuring several dishes that use the same key ingredients, you can cut down on a lot of waste.

Rather than throw food away that’s spoiled, consider cooking and handing it out at reduced prices or to lower-income and homeless people. Invite the press along for some great PR and free promotion!

If you’re looking for the best restaurant books to help improve your business, then we’ve got a fantastic list of choices to help. As recommended by top professionals in the restaurant industry, this list contains books that will help every aspect of your business, from operations to marketing.

Buy them, borrow them, but, most importantly, read them to gain insights on how to run the best restaurant in town!

Best Restaurant Books

The Restaurant Manager's Handbook

The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook

This is the bible for starting and running a restaurant. I recommend you get the printed version and the Kindle version. Use the Kindle version for quick reference and the printed version for study.

Chuck Rogers
Owner/Chuck Rogers Consulting
The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets

The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets

A spectacularly useful look at what determines success in the hospitality industry, packed with the insights of great leaders and practitioners from our industry, put together by Micah Solomon, one of today's preeminent thought leaders on where hospitality, customer service, and customers themselves are heading.
Herve Humler
COO/The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
Restaurant Man

Restaurant Man

“Restaurant Man” by Joe Bastianich has a lot of street wisdom. A line in the book stuck — “it’s better to stay lukewarm for twenty years than hot for six months“. It sounded counter-intuitive but for the first restaurant he wanted to build, Bastianich decided early on he wasn’t going to have a trendy restaurant fizzle out in a few months. Being consistently good made far better business sense.
Kai Yeo
Partner & Creative Director of BUREAU, Co-founder and Design Lead of Hutan Tropical
Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy's Guide to Opening the Next New Hot Spot

Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy’s Guide to Opening the Next New Hot Spot

After being in the business for many years, I thought I knew everything, but working with Roger showed me how much more there is to know. Restaurant Success by the Numbers contains the know-how you’ll need to open and run a thriving restaurant. If you want to succeed in the restaurant business, read it!
Gregoire Jacquet
Owner/Grégoire restaurant
Remarkable Service: A Guide to Winning and Keeping Customers for Servers, Managers, and Restaurant Owners

Remarkable Service: A Guide to Winning and Keeping Customers for Servers, Managers, and Restaurant Owners

I try to get each of our employees to read this book. Absolutely nothing is more critical to your success than providing remarkable service to your customers. If you do that, customers will come back. That's what makes all the work you are going to do to create a great atmosphere and control your costs worthwhile. If you aren't going to be committed to Remarkable Service from day 1, then you might as well not start.
Chuck Rogers
Owner/Chuck Rogers Consulting
The Encyclopedia Of Restaurant Training: A Complete Ready-to-Use Training Program for All Positions in the Food Service Industry

The Encyclopedia Of Restaurant Training: A Complete Ready-to-Use Training Program for All Positions in the Food Service Industry

This is the companion to my #1 selection. This will really help you give your employees the proper training they need. But remember, not all of the training recommended here may apply to either your establishment or the way you intend to do business. So I wouldn't take this as gospel as much as my #1.
Chuck Rogers
Owner/Chuck Rogers Consulting
1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List

1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List

If one is to name the single most knowledgeable person about food on planet Earth, it would be Mimi Sheraton. She is also --by far-- the most experienced food critic in an area where experience matters the most, a field in which the expert is the expert.

She has an insatiable curiosity, does her homework, visits countries, argues with locals, tries all manner of restaurants, and is never fooled by hot air or pseudosophistication. I have seen it with my own eyes. Over the past 34 years i watched her in action, particularly when after my graduation, I would go order for her in restaurants so the food would get to the table before the waiters recognized her. She did not use her priviledge as a food critic to get the better quality food and service than the rest of the people --a testament of both ethics and curiosity.

As I said she is the real thing; this book is the real book.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Raise the Bar: An Action-Based Method for Maximum Customer Reactions

Raise the Bar: An Action-Based Method for Maximum Customer Reactions

This is by John Taffer of Bar Rescue. I don't agree with everything he says in this book, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Taffer's accomplishments and experience. He has a lot of good ideas in this book, many of which we have implemented in our business. This is a much smaller book than #1 and #2, and in no way a substitute for either.
Chuck Rogers
Owner/Chuck Rogers Consulting
The Underground Culinary Tour: How the New Metrics of Today's Top Restaurants Are Transforming How America Eats

The Underground Culinary Tour: How the New Metrics of Today’s Top Restaurants Are Transforming How America Eats

Avero has become the go-to tech company for the hospitality industry, but the secret to Damian's success lies in his deeply rooted passion for food.... which The Underground Culinary Tour illustrates brilliantly!
Tom Colicchio
Owner/Crafted Hospitality
Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook

I'm a huge fan of personal stories and biographies like this one.
Catalina Penciu
Food Styling and Photography Blogger
Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life... During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives. I want to share them with you. I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book.
Noah Kagan
Founder/Sumo
Cocktail Techniques

Cocktail Techniques

Most gifted or recommended book.
Joshua Skenes
Owner/Saison restaurant
The MouseDriver Chronicles: The True-Life Adventures of Two First-Time Entrepreneurs

The MouseDriver Chronicles: The True-Life Adventures of Two First-Time Entrepreneurs

Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but the book is CAPTIVATING. I read the entire thing in one day.
Pat Walls
Founder/StarterStory
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life... During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives. I want to share them with you. I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book.
Noah Kagan
Founder/Sumo
A Human's Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control

A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control

AI is finally here, from guiding us home on Waze, to helping us choose a restaurant, a book or a job. I believe this will launch a Renaissance of human creativity as mundane tasks become handled by AI. Kartik Hosanagar’s excellent book identifies the growing pains we may experience along the way to this new human advancement.
Tim Draper
Founder/Draper Fisher Jurvetson
How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

For me and my family, I’ve always said that the farm isn’t what made us happy. Instead, I believe it was everything that happened on our way to the farm…and it’s because of that journey that we are the people we are today. I love Max Lucado, I love his family, and I love the perspective he shares in How Happiness Happens. If you’re looking for a wakeup call or a dose of modern day wisdom, read this book. In fact, read all of his books—you’ll be glad you did.
Chip Gaines
Co-Founder/Magnolia
The Dao of Taijiquan

The Dao of Taijiquan

Most gifted or recommended book.
Joshua Skenes
Owner/Saison restaurant
Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential

This is a superb book. So well-written, colorful, raw and gritty, and a window into the culinary world from one of the best chefs. But it’s more than that, it’s an insight into mastery, what a great work ethic looks like, and the fascinating people that are drawn into this world as well. It makes you appreciate how different industries and the people within them can operate in vastly different ways to your own.
Nicole Baldinu
Co-Founder/The $100 MBA
Perilous Interventions: The Security Council and the Politics of Chaos

Perilous Interventions: The Security Council and the Politics of Chaos

This is an outstanding book on the side effects of interventionism, written in extremely elegant prose and with maximal clarity. It documents how people find arguments couched in moralistic terms to intervene in complex systems they don't understand.

These interventions trigger endless chains of unintended consequences --consequences for the victims, but none for the interventionistas, allowing them to repeat the mistake again and again. Puri, as an insider, outlines the principles and legal mechanisms, then runs through the events of the past few years since the Iraq invasion; each one of his chapters are models of concision, presenting the story of Ukraine, Syria, Lybia, and Yemen, among others, as standalone briefings to the uninitiated. It was high time that somebody in international affairs has approached the problem of "iatrogenics", i.e. harm done by the healer.

This book should be mandatory reading to every student and practitioner of foreign affairs.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

Scott has an incredible approach to 'career planning' that's as effective as it is unusual. He’s beaten all the odds and can help you do the same.
Tim Ferriss
Author & Entrepreneur
Three Women

Three Women

I can’t remember the last time a book affected me as profoundly as Three Women. Lisa Taddeo is a tireless reporter, a brilliant writer, and a storyteller possessed of almost supernatural humanity. As far as I’m concerned, this is a nonfiction literary masterpiece at the same level as In Cold Blood—and just as suspenseful, bone-chilling, and harrowing, in its own way. I know already that I will never stop thinking about the women profiled in this story—about their sexual desire, their emotional pain, their strength, their losses. I saw myself in all of them. Truly, Three Women is an extraordinary offering.
Elizabeth Gilbert
Author
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Another form of non-fiction heartbreak. This is a timeless look at how most of America survives. You cannot be an empathetic business leader without this lens.
Angela Pham
Content Strategist/Facebook

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