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The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America Paperback – Mar 31 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 2 edition (March 31 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080508939X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805089394
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.3 x 20.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 490 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #116,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YAAThe Culinary Institute of America is known as "the Harvard of cooking schools" and many of this country's best-known chefs are graduates. Ruhlman enrolled as a student with the intention of writing this book, which begins as a chronicle of the intense, high-pressure grind of classes and cooking. However, it turns into an engrossing personal account as, his every effort critiqued, the author determines to become a student and not just impersonate one. YAs will enjoy Ruhlman's anecdotes about his instructors and his classmatesYsome of whom are still in their teens. The appendix offers a chart showing the course work for associate degrees. This will appeal to anyone aspiring to a career as a chef as well as to those interested in food preparation, presentation, and the restaurant industry in America.APatricia Noonan, Prince William Public Library, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David W. Bates on June 25 2004
Format: Paperback
As a proud graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and having attended the C.I.A. at the same time as the author, I can attest to the accuracy of this book. I had several of the same chef/instructors as did the author. (That's Certified Master Chef Ron DiSantis, a culinary badass, in the foreground of the cover photo)
The book shows the demanding schedule required of those who wish to attend the hands down best cooking school in America, and possibly the world. It should be required reading for all who want to cook for a living.
I like that Ruhlman goes into detail about the life philosophy of "Mise en Place", French for Things in Place. The term, in its strictest sense, means to have all of your ingredients chopped up and arranged logically, all of your pots, pans, and utensils ready to go. In a more general way, it means to be organized and professional. Good term, that.
Anyway, it's a good peek into the kitchen. Enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold on March 18 2004
Format: Paperback
This 1997 second book by journalist Michael Ruhlman is his first of several essays and collaborations in writing about the upper reaches of the American culinary scene. The most fascinating thing about the book is in learning with Ruhlman, as an outsider to the culinary profession, exactly how demanding a job in the culinary arts can be. What is taken as a matter of course by people like Daniel Boulud and Jaques Pepin comes as a surprise to outsider Ruhlman. The surprise is in the commitment to performance which chefs are expected to make to maintain a service to their customers.
The book is a reporting on Ruhlman's taking an abbreviated version of the full curriculum at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), where only the President of the school and a few select senior instructors know of the author's real role at the school. This means that when the author did attend classes, he attended the full class, from start to finish, and was expected to perform as well as any other student. While the CIA has many of the appearances of a liberal arts college, it is much closer in practice to a trade school. One symptom of this is that the stocks produced by the basic kitchen skills classes are then used by other classes at the school and they are used by each of the four restaurants run by the school for students, faculty, and outside guests. In a sense, this is a mix of trade school and graduate school, where it is expected that no one will do work worthy of a grade less than a B-.
The epiphany that reveals how serious the culinary profession is about uninterrupted service comes early in the first year when the school is hit by a serious snowstorm and the author considers whether or not he should attempt the difficult trek into the school.
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Format: Paperback
at what is required to make it through and excel in America's premier culinary school - the C.I.A. This book is certainly a must read for anyone who has ever entertained notions of taking their home-chef skills a notch further into the world of professional cookery. The information and tales found within will surely scare away potential students who will certainly be in the shock of their lives when confronted with 120 degree kitchens and the uncesasing pressure to turn over 8 plates in 4 minutes (with exacting presicion and perfection, mind you) all while hot splattering grease, insults and angry elbows attempt to jostle you away from focus. Certainly 'Kitchen Confidential,' and this one makes for a holy-duo of sorts for anyone and everyone who has/is currently/knows someone attending a culinary program - if this book doesn't force you to re-think a career plan it will, at the very least, leave you with a further sense of awe and respect for those who endeavour daily in it. bon apetit!
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By John Robinson on Nov. 18 2003
Format: Paperback
Why are you here? Are you interested in this subject? Then buy it. It's 11 bucks and an absolutely magnetic read. Talk about a deal.
More specifically, the author takes us through the CIA, from weeks spent in Sanitation and Skills and a plethora of other courses, to one week in the best restaurant in the Culinary Institute's portfolio. Along the way, we learn about the hard-charging personalities who become Chefs (with a capital "C"), we hear alot about different kinds of food (and what it takes to prepare them really WELL), and, above all, we become inspired to get more deeply involved with whatever we are doing in the kitchen. Even if it is just our own home kitchen.
The world of great cooking is theatrical and exacting and a lot of darn hard work. There are only three ways to learn about the premier training ground for this fabulous profession: pay a ton of money and become a student there, take a tour if you are visiting in the area, or buy this book.
Or, for that matter, do all three. But start with the book.
Buy it now.
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Format: Paperback
Before reading this book, I had always imagined the halls of the CIA as a glorious place to be for any fan of the culinary arts, not unlike a trip to Disney World for the average 5 year-old. Boy was I wrong! An education at the hallowed CIA is more like an initiation into hell that only a true masochist would enjoy. Call me sick, but I still want to go. In this book, Michael doesn't just walk through the classes, observing what the students are doing. He actually becomes a student, going through the same gruelling schedule, and the same humiliating criticisms that the other students experience. How else could he paint such a vibrant picture of life at the CIA? You will experience all the highs and lows that Michael and his fellow students experience. Especially amusing was when Chef Pardus shamed Michael into coming into class during a dangerous snowstorm. Chef Pardus had basically intimated that being a chef isn't for everyone, (chefs ALWAYS get where they need to be when they need to be there) and that perhaps Michael just wasn't cut out to be one of those chosen few. The reader actually feels Michael's outrage, and can't help root for him, as he sets out to prove Chef Pardus wrong with his new determination to experience every morsel of hardship that his fellow students are forced to swallow. This singular event haunts him throughout most of the rest of the book, and I suspect, still does so today. Of special interest is when Michael notices how studying to be a chef actually changes how one operates in everyday life. You forever look toward maximum efficiency, and look down with disgust on any wasted movements, even when not in the kitchen. While not meant to be an instructional book, this book is very likely to make you a better cook, simply by inspiring you to accept nothing less than perfection in your own kitchen.
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