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The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward…

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Michael Ruhlman

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Title:The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection
Authors:Michael Ruhlman
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2001), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:nonfiction, cooking, restaurants, owned

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The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection by Michael Ruhlman (2000)



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What does it take to be a chef?

Michel Ruhlman explores this question in his book, The Should of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection. He spends a third of his time observing chefs as they try to attain the ultra elusive Certificated Master Chef (CMC) at the Culinary Institute of America. To this day, the total number of CMCs number less than 100. Is this what it means to be a true chef? The next third he spends observing the inner workings of the Lola restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. Has Michael Symone, the owner of the restaurant, shown what it takes to be the ultimate chef? Lastly, he spends some time at one of the most popular and famous restaurants in the country, French Laundry, in Napa Valley, California. Does the story of failure to success of Thomas Keller exemplify what it means to be a chef? Read and you'll find out.

Ruhlman writes with an easy prose, captivating the reader in and describing in enough detail to get your mouth watering as you try to decide if you want to make the dish yourself. I did find that his narrative did seem to drag on a various points throughout his book, primarily near the end of each of the respective three sections. It really came down to Ruhlman asking himself the questions of what makes a chef a chef. And like most things in life, it really depends on the context of the situation. There's difference ways to measure, and perhaps his observations eventually led to his own self-discovery of what the answer to the question is.

It's a wonderful read, and it did require me to look up a few of the cooking concepts described. He even ends with a few complicated recipes at the end of the book. Perhaps one day if I feel up to the task, then perhaps I will look into these recipes. ( )
  jms001 | Sep 10, 2016 |
Poulet Sauté Stanley, p. 342; very good, basic repeatable technique, though scaling down to one chicken makes the sauce awkward. "Serves ten" is closer to twenty.
  DromJohn | Sep 2, 2014 |
I started reading this when I wasn't feeling well, so now the idea of finishing it just makes me feel sick again.
Not your fault, Michael Ruhlman! It was pretty interesting when I was reading it.
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
The three sections are a lot of fun individually, and in retrospect they do hang together, although I wouldn't have said so whilst in the middle of reading. The prose in the Keller section tips over the edge in overblown, and I would have liked more follow-up on the Certified Master Chef participants (did the test change the life of the guy who passed? what about the people who left? what do the people around them think of the whole episode?), and I loved the portraits of the people in the kitchen in the Cleveland chapter. A quite good example of creative nonfiction, all in all. ( )
  cricketbats | Apr 1, 2013 |
I picked up this book because I saw him on a couple episodes of "No Reservations," and I was pleasantly surprised. My eyes glazed over with some of the in-depth descriptions of French and American cooking, and some of the perfectionism made for a boring read, but I was fascinated by the description of the insanity of the Certified Master Chef exam. One of the three chefs profiled in this book is from here in MI (and I loved the now-defunct Five Lakes Grill), and he teaches at Schoolcraft College, where I've had a few amazing dinners. I don't think I'll become an obsessive chef though. ( )
  rkreish | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line. And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colors, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life, what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential--their one illuminating and convincing quality--the very truth of their existence...It is, before all, to make you see. -- Joseph Conrad, "The Condition of Art"
What interests me is how the quality of cooking in this country can be followed from a period of simplicity and function to one of goodness and bounty, then to an age of elaboration and excess, back again to functional (and for the most part, mediocre) eating. Finally, we hope, we are now in another epoch of gastronomic excellence. -- James Beard, James Beard's American Cookery
Everything is relative but there is a standard which must not be deviated from, especially with reference to the basic culinary preparations. -- A. Escoffier, Escoffier: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery
For my mother, Carole, a beautiful soul
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Chef Dieter Doppelfeld leads the way to kitchen station four, followed by two men in lab coats with clipboards.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141001895, Paperback)

For his first book, The Making of a Chef, hands-on journalist Michael Ruhlman attended the most prestigious cooking school in the U.S., the Culinary Institute of America. He also earned his chef's whites and began cooking professionally. Ruhlman ventures further into the secret lives of chefs with his second book, The Soul of a Chef. This enthusiastically researched report is divided into three parts: The first concerns the Certified Master Chef exam, a brutal weeklong cooking marathon that measures the skill levels of professional chefs. The second and third parts of Ruhlman's book are devoted to the careers of two different chefs, Michael Symon of Cleveland's Lola Bistro and Thomas Keller of Napa Valley's legendary French Laundry. The thread connecting these three tales together is Ruhlman's quest for culinary perfection: Does it exist? Is it possible? How is it even measurable? Ruhlman does indeed stumble onto the realization of his high-minded ideal, serving up a palatable conclusion for hard-core foodies equally obsessed with the perfect meal. --Sumi Hahn Almquist

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:16 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The author explores the lives of the men and women whose goal is to serve perfect food, drawing on the collective experiences of three talented young chefs to reveal the dreams, goals, and ideas of great chefs.

(summary from another edition)

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