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

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9780805046748: The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America

The eye-opening book that was nominated for a 1998 James Beard Foundation award in the Writing on Food category.

In the winter of 1996, Michael Ruhlman donned hounds-tooth-check pants and a chef's jacket and entered the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, to learn the art of cooking. His vivid and energetic record of that experience, The Making of a Chef, takes us to the heart of this food-knowledge mecca. Here we meet a coterie of talented chefs, an astonishing and driven breed. Ruhlman learns fundamental skills and information about the behavior of food that make cooking anything possible. Ultimately, he 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.

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Review:

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.

From the Back Cover:

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.

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