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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; Second Edition, Revised Edition edition (March 31 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080508939X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805089394
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 13.7 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 18 2001
Format: Paperback
Though rather simplistic and lacking in depth, Ruhlman's representation of the school and its students was accurate as far as it went. His descriptions of food were less than appealing, and the truth of the matter is that though Ruhlman did audit some classes at the CIA, he categorically DID NOT attend the school. I was a student at the CIA during Ruhlman's romantic, starry-eyed journey into the life of a culinary student, and although he attended classes periodically, he did so strictly from the point of view of a writer. He was not tested, did not take a class in its entirety, did not have thousands of tuition dollars riding on his first and fourth term practical exams, buddied up with the chefs, and was wined and dined by the Institute's administration. In order to accurately write the book, Ruhlman should have attended the CIA just like any other student, without drawing so much attention to himself, struggled to spend 8 to 12 hours a day at the school while also supporting himself financially. He should have lost precious points because his tie wasn't straight, his knives weren't sharp enough, his hair was sticking out of his toque or his sideburns were too long. He should have felt the real pressure the REAL chefs in training felt every day when they walked through the doors of a new kitchen to start from scratch with a chef whose reputation would make him nauseous a full week before he even started class.
I don't have a problem with writers getting a cursory view and writing their impressions of something, and I'm certain people would have enjoyed (or not enjoyed) this book just as much had Ruhlman more accurately described his "attendance" at the CIA. Those of us who went through the entire culinary program and survived would tell a much different tale.
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3 of 3 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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