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The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the…
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The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute

by Michael Ruhlman

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I love Ruhlman's thoughtful writing, especially when it involved food and cooking. This was no exception!

I would recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about cooking professionally. While there are way to incorporate that into a balanced live... most people cannot. And, honestly, I do not think I EVER had the sheer physicality required of a pro cook/chef!

Thing is, though, even us less-energy types can strive for excellence...albeit not in the food service industry! I find some restaurant "tricks" to be very helpful indeed when I am cooking or planning for small groups; how to stage things so the prep is mostly done before dinnertime is enormously helpful even when one is only having a few people over for a casual dinner! Instead of getting "in the weeds", we can relax and enjoy the company when there is only minimal prep necessary a la minute. This is very useful to us home cooks! as is the ability to choose and plan out recipes that can easily be transported, and finished on location with minimal effort and time. Books written about professional cooking can help with this even for us more modest and less intense cooks.

I did come out of reading this book with an increased hankering to attempt: proper classical stock (prob chicken); consomme; brown sauce; various pates etc; and get another sourdough starter working for bread.

Also with an increased respect for plating, which is probably my worst flaw. Even though of necessity we will always be "casual"- even with pretty formal food!- when we are being "fancy" we should probably give more thought to presentation rather than just flavor. ( )
  cissa | May 23, 2016 |
I've been on a chef kick lately, and this chronicle of part of the 2 year program at the Culinary Institute of America was great fun. What an obsessive lot! ( )
  rkreish | Mar 31, 2013 |
I decided to read this after reading Ruhlman's latest, "Ratios." It's a compelling read about working through the culinary program at CIA, but it also delves into ruminations about quality that reminded me of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." The passion with which these chefs teach is inspiring, not only for cooking but may be applied to whatever you are passionate about. Not only was this a good book exploring American cooking, the CIA experience and cooking in general, but it inspires me to apply these principles of perfection and passion into my own life and work. ( )
  gmmoney | Sep 8, 2010 |
Ruhlman goes from detached observer to passionate student over the course of the book. His passion for cooking shines through and carries this book all the way to the end. ( )
1 vote reenum | Jul 12, 2010 |
I was sad when I finished this book because I couldn't read it anymore. I loved it. ( )
  writegerl | Sep 29, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805061738, Paperback)

Journalist Michael Ruhlman talked his way into the CIA: the Culinary Institute of America, the Harvard of cooking schools. It had something to do with potatoes a grand-uncle had eaten deacades earlier, how the man could remember them so well for so long, buried as they had been in the middle of an elegant meal. Ruhlman wanted to learn how to cook potatoes like that--like an art--and the CIA seemed the place to go. The fun part of this book is that we all get to go along for the ride without having to endure the trauma of cooking school.

Ever wonder what goes on in a busy kitchen, why your meal comes late or shows up poorly cooked? The temptation is to blame the waiter, but there are a world of cooks behind those swinging doors, and Ruhlman marches you right into it. It's a world where, when everything is going right, time halts and consciousness expands. And when a few things go wrong, the earth begins to wobble on its axis. Ruhlamn has the writerly skills to make the education of a chef a visceral experience.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:02 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In the ultimate food-lover's fantasy, journalist Michael Ruhlman dons chef's jacket and houndstooth-check pants to join the students in Skills One at the Culinary Institute of America, the most influential cooking school in the country. His goal is to document the training of America's chefs from the first classroom to the Culinary's final kitchen, the American Bounty Restaurant. The result becomes more than a rote reportage of a school for cooks. Ruhlman learns to cook as though his future depends upon it, and this complete immersion enables him to create the most vivid and energetic memoir of a genuine culinary education on record.He learns fundamental skills and information about the behavior of food that make cooking anything possible. But he also finds that a professional cook needs more than just knowledge and skill. Ultimately Ruhlman propels himself and his readers through a score of kitchens and classrooms, from Asian and American regional cuisines to lunch cookery and even table waiting, in search of the elusive, unnameable elements of great cooking.… (more)

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