Today is a Christmas homage to Marco Pierre White. The first book, White Heat, was one of those cookbook legends when I started cooking. It wasn't easy to find. Most head chefs worth their salt had a copy, and you could steal a glance at it when things were slower or at the end of your shift. A few things made this book and their author different from most other cookbooks.
He was the first British chef to achieve 3 Michelin stars and the youngest chef anywhere to gain 'em. He had an epic temper as well, chain smoked, and pretty much invented the concept of a rockstar chef. Gordon Ramsey came out of his kitchen as well as tons of broken cooks (and some successful ones). He also peppered his book with quotes & kitchen pictures that suggested a hard professional intensity.
'I've worked for over ten years for recognition, and now I've got it. I've got money now, but I'm no happier. It's not material things that bring me happiness. Perhaps that's why I work with food, with growing things. ... My respect and admiration for life has come from food, through food.'
- White Heat, Marco Pierre White
His second book, The Devil in the Kitchen, is more autobiographical in nature and equals Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential in culinary/literary bad-assery. The pictures in both books are to be blamed for how they inspired a generation of young tyrants (I'm recovering, I swear). It's hard to explain how evocative these books are until you've seen them. They contain an obsessed passion that makes you want to cook, and cook at the top of your game for as long as you can mentally and physically do it.
Also, search his cooking demos on YouTube. They're awesome. Many of the preparations are now even more rare, since the style of cooking he does is quickly becoming a footnote in the current dining scene. But you'll learn that technique & passion are every bit as important in the recipe for a successful culinary career.