From the simple to sublime
Jacques Torres has the ability to make the complex seem simple. The book is filled with step by step photos of the more complex techniques. Every recipe has a great introduction filled with tips and personal notes about the recipe. Each recipe is long, even the chocolate chip cookie recipe. The chatty approach may seem like overkill but it does make all the recipes approachable and easy to complete.
There is a good section on basics such as ingredients and pans. If you love fresh fruits there are a lot of recipes that take the best ingredients to the next level. There really is a great range of recipes from savory breads to show stopping cakes and desserts.