We asked professional chefs, teachers and cookbook authors this question: "If you could have only one cookbook, what would it be and why?"

Their responses:

Karl Benson, owner, Cooks of Crocus Hills: "'The Gourmet Cookbook.' It's comprehensive. If you can think of it, they'll have a recipe for it. Sometimes you might need rice or beans, and they'll have something that will get you there. You might want to add something, but the recipes work."

Ken Goff, instructor at Le Cordon Bleu: "'Simple French Food,' a seminal treatise by, in the estimation of many, the greatest author of cookbooks in the English language [Richard Olney]. This book was used so extensively by me and most others I knew that my copy is (and has been for many years) in parts. Discussion is sensible, recipes accurate and reflective of a real, basic yet sophisticated love of food in a very natural way that is not affected.

Raghavan Iyer, author of "660 Curries" and proprietor of the upcoming OM restaurant: "I am a great fan of reference books since I not only read them for information, but also glean many ideas for recipes. So I'll say Alan Davidson's 'Oxford Companion to Food.'"

Manfred Krug, chef instructor at St. Paul College: "'The Professional Chef' from the CIA [Culinary Institute of America]. It's in, what, its eighth edition. When I was there I trained on the fourth edition, which probably came out in 1970 or so. It's a little pretentious, because not everyone knows what a cheesecloth is or what a tammy is, or a drum sieve."

Michael Rostance, executive chef at Broder's Pasta Bar: "'Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1.,' by Julia Child. I cut my teeth on this one. Basic techniques to the most complex all in one volume."

Jay Sparks, executive chef at D'Amico & Partners: "'The Complete Robuchon' [by Joel Robuchon] has great techniques, and the recipes really sing. I wish I had had that 20 years ago when I started out. It's a great gift book."

Lucia Watson, chef/owner of Lucia's restaurant: "'Simple French Food' by Richard Olney."

Koshiki Yonemura, chef/owner of Tanpopo Noodle Shop: ""The Joy of Cooking.' It has all the basic information on cooking and a lot of recipes that seem to work pretty well. My grandmother cooked a lot out of there, and I enjoyed it."