space
space

Rapidly Reviewed Cooking Reads

Sunday, 11 Jan 2009
 

Want to blow your life’s savings on cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu?  Live a daredevil life of “sex, drugs and haute cuisine?”  Well, there’s still time, and you can do it all vicariously if risky behavior is not your thing.  I’m going to combine a few of my favorite activities here — reading, cooking, and reading about cooking — to give you four quick reviews of true tales from the food industry. We’ll start with Anthony Bourdain.

bourdain
Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.)

This was a fast, fun and entertaining read, one I’d liken to Animal House in the kitchen. The book is filled with lots of gritty details (as you might gather from the dust cover’s “sex, drugs and haute cuisine” hook) from Bourdain’s early days in the kitchen.  He tells his story with quite a lot of swagger and nostalgia. Bourdain’s bluster got on my nerves at first, but then I got used to it and sat back and enjoyed the Tony Show.  The tone of the book feels like a round of reminiscence and story telling with friends after a few beers. This makes it easy to speed through the book. Each section of the book covers a different time frame. If I had a criticism, I’d say the book lacks transitions, so the shifts between sections representing different periods are abrupt.  However, it helps in a way, because you can pick up in a new chapter without having to remember what you read previously.  This is the kind of book you read when you’re in the mood for a good yarn, not necessarily to learn the nuts and bolts of cooking.  It will teach you, however, how the chef’s lifestyle could take years off your life.

kathleenflynnThe Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School

This is another light, fast read.  Flynn gives her account of getting laid off from a corporate job she hated and making a life-changing decision to move to Paris to attend the Cordon Bleu.  Her experience of that juggernaut is artfully entwined with a story of true love.  Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, described Flynn’s book as “surprisingly suspenseful,” and I have to agree.  A journalist by trade, Flynn tells a compelling, absorbing story that draws you in and at times leaves you hanging.  She also provides plenty of levity in the form of kitchen bloopers and mishaps related to life as an American in Paris.  As a welcome bonus she provides recipes at the end of each chapter, some simple, some challenging, and I hope to try some of them out soon.  This book could be described as the romantic yin to Bourdain’s debauchery-driven yang.

michaelruhlmanThe Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute

Ruhlman, another journalist, gained entrance to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), took some amazing notes, and lived to tell about it. The books leaves you feeling like you went through the CIA’s gauntlet yourself.  Ruhlman walks you through the canon of cooking education at the CIA step by step, providing incredibly detailed descriptions of the day-to-day and minute-to-minute life of a chef-in-training.  Ultimately, Ruhlman demonstrates the heart and motivation it takes to make it through the “Harvard of cooking schools” as the story of a culinary student in the abstract becomes his own story.  As far as sheer information about what makes a professional chef and what goes into a culinary education, this book provided the most, hands down, of any of the four books reviewed here.

michaelruhlman2
The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection

This book builds on The Making of a Chef, but you can read it without having read the other first. In fact, The Soul of a Chef seems to repeat some of the culinary education content from the previous book.  The Soul of A Chef is divided into three parts.  In the first, Ruhlman reports on the punishing Certified Master Chef exam at the CIA, following candidates of different backgrounds, from airline chefs to corporate chefs, through the trial.  Next, Ruhlman follows the trajectory of a somewhat unconventional up-and-coming chef, Michael Symon of Lola in Cleveland.  Symon was named one of Food and Wine’s 10 Best Chefs in America, and Ruhlman gives an inside view of how he built his restaurant from the ground up and how he managed his staff in a way that engendered unprecedented loyalty from them. In the final section of the book, Ruhlman examines the roots and development of Thomas Keller, chef of the acclaimed French Laundry.  Keller selected Ruhlman to help write the French Laundry Cookbook, and Ruhlman writes a good bit about that, as well.  The Soul of a Chef provides a good examination of what makes chefs and restaurants succeed, particularly how chefs with wildly different backgrounds have brought their own soul and style into their work with good results.

So, that’s all the reviewing for tonight!  I have a few more cooking books on my reading list and hope to give you more reviews in the not-too-distant future.



Reader's Comments

  1. ventolin 2mg over the counter order triamcinolone 10mg generic aristocort 10mg over the counter

  2. zovirax 800mg us order generic aceon 4mg buy perindopril 4mg generic

  3. buy allegra 180mg order fexofenadine 120mg panadol oral

  4. order trileptal 300mg sale ursodiol pill order rosuvastatin 10mg without prescription

  5. 男 ラブドール 2018年のダッチワイフ!ライアン・デイビスのショーでハイライトされた人形ジャスミン(シャキーラ)

  6. zetia 10mg cheap domperidone pill purchase lioresal sale

  7. buy generic tizanidine 2mg buy cialis 5mg for sale cialis pharmacy

  8. atorvastatin 40mg ca purchase atenolol pills lyrica 150mg over the counter

  9. aol slots lounge games free quick hit slots free aol slots las vegas world slots free

  10. generic desloratadine arcoxia 120mg price order mesalamine generic

  11. irbesartan 300mg generic temovate brand famotidine 20mg for sale

  12. tacrolimus 5mg uk tacrolimus 5mg cost tricor order online

  13. gloperba oral buy colchicine buy plavix 75mg online cheap

  14. vegas slots casino vegas world free games online slots sign las vegas casino slots slots kiss

  15. altace cost order carvedilol for sale coreg 6.25mg generic

  16. generic oxybutynin 2.5mg order alendronate 35mg without prescription brand nitrofurantoin 100mg

  17. buy motrin 600mg generic paroxetine uk order rocaltrol 0.25mg without prescription

  18. help writing a college paper custom papers online write my paper for me cheap doyourpapersonline.com

  19. order zyban cheap zyban 150 mg viagra mail order

  20. zyban 150mg uk sildenafil pills 25mg order sildenafil 50mg online

  21. buy methotrexate 5mg for sale buy cozaar 25mg generic buy cozaar sale

  22. need someone to write my paper for me where can you
    buy resume paper paying someone to write a paper custom papers online

  23. custom thesis papers best custom paper writing service buy college papers write my thesis paper

Leave a Comment