A chef's chef, reigning restaurateur of our nation's capital, an inspired and inspiring innovator, Michel Richard is one of the few celebrity chefs I can think of who hasn't written a cookbook. Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating (Artisan, $45, 352 pages, ISBN 1579652999) happily rectifies that sad state and introduces avid cooks to the joys of taste and technique the Richard way. It's gorgeous, with 225 color photos, including dozens that show step-by-step prep, and its good looks are matched by 150 extraordinary recipes. With unrivaled culinary curiosity, Richard rejoices in the surprising (potato risotto, Chocolate Popcorn), in new combinations (Black Olive-Crusted Salmon), in spinning classics (Green Bouillabaisse with A•oli) and in letting his imagination soar. This is a must-have cookbook for the foodies in your life and, even better, the foodie within.

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