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GitHub User: lamont-opscode
If it isn't obvious from my screen-name, disclaimer is that I work at opscode...
The latest community cookbooks maintained by opscode are here:
Since there are 137+ repos in there, you can sometimes find specific cookbooks on github which may be more up to date or may better fit your needs, but that's a good place to start looking. Since those cookbooks are designed to be multi-operating system (CentOS, Ubuntu, Solaris, etc) they also aren't necessarily the simplest designs.
Installing chef has also gotten considerably easier, and this:
curl -L https://www.opscode.com/chef/install.sh | sudo bash
Will install chef-client and chef-solo into /opt/chef and setup symlinks into /usr/bin/chef-client and works across most major operating systems. You can still gem install chef-client, but the omnibus installation into /opt/chef gets us a consistent (and usually substantially more up-to-date) version of ruby and rubygems across platforms including Solaris 9 and CentOS 5 which we support.
The site-cookbooks method of separating your own cookbooks has also been deprecated in favor of using berkshelf:
There's good integration between berkshelf and vagrant for easily testing chef-solo recipes:
The chef community has changed fairly fast in the past 12 months...