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Think Like a Chef Hardcover – Oct 31 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (Oct. 31 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609604856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609604854
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 2.2 x 26.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #701,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Cookbooks by chefs can be daunting. They're apt to include tricky restaurant recipes, or, alternately, watered-down "translations." Tom Colicchio, chef at Manhattan's top-rated Gramercy Tavern, has a better way. Think like a chef, he advises, and you tap into food preparation creativity--the ability to forgo recipes, when you wish, for spontaneous kitchen invention. In a series of innovative chapters that explore cooking fundamentals, culinary themes and variations, and "plug-in" component preparations, Colicchio provides a cooking "anatomy" for gaining kitchen mastery. The book's 100-plus recipes are offered not as ends in themselves (though they stand as delicious examples of Colicchio's simple yet sophisticated style), but as illustrative keys to the culinary processes.

How does it work? Beginning with a chapter that reviews basic cooking techniques, and includes exemplary stock- and sauce-making formulas, the book then presents a series of "studies," building-block recipes like Roasted Tomatoes, followed by simple-to-sophisticated variations, such as Roasted-Tomato Risotto. A chapter called "Trilogies" explores clusters of three-ingredient recipes--duck, root vegetables, and apples is one ingredient grouping--that show how various techniques, applied to the same ingredients, yield various exciting dishes. "Component Cooking," which focuses on vegetables (Colicchio's major source of inspiration), provides recipes like Corn and Potato Pancakes to be used for assembling a "plate." Concluding the book is "Favorites," a selection of Colicchio's specialties that range from My Favorite Chicken Soup to Poached Foie Gras, a taste bonus that also stimulates the cooking imagination. Illustrated with more than 100 color photos, and including a wide range of tips, Think Like a Chef succeeds at helping readers see through a chef's eyes--and in so doing to visualize cooking with fresh insight. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Unlike many chef-authors, Colicchio (chef at Gramercy Tavern) does not offer modified restaurant recipes for the home cook. Instead, he sets out to inspire readers to think like trained chefs: to riff on ingredients and techniques rather than always follow recipes to the last letter. Indeed, the recipes Colicchio includes serve as creative fodder rather than authoritarian instructions. He begins with techniques ("Get these [roasting, braising, blanching, sweating, stock making and sauce making] down, and you've mastered the most fundamental tools to creating great recipes"). The chapter on sauce making includes excellent basic instructions that can be used for variations such as Apple Cider Sauce and Lemon-Rosemary Vinaigrette. He is the first to admit that his approach is unusual, but it works beautifully, and dishes such as Artichoke and Tomato Gratin and Root Vegetable Soup with Apples and Duck Ham not only illustrate the author's premise effectively, but also sound delicious. Colicchio has a natural voiceAthere's no foodie pretentiousness here at all, and his book is as straightforward, yet inventive, as the food he serves. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold on Dec 20 2003
Format: Hardcover
Tom Colicchio is part of the elite cadre of New York chefs which include Daniel Boulud, Michael Romano, Alfred Portale, and (in the 1980's) Thomas Keller, so he is as qualified as few others are to write a book with this title. Almost all recent books by celebrity chefs have some slant on their presentation of recipes to, I suspect, justify the higher fare for purchasing the book. As the title clearly states, the slant of this book is to help the reader see cooking the way a trained chef sees cooking and develops recipes.
For starters, Colicchio says the typical chef does not start with an endpoint, an idea on what sort of dish they wish to create. Rather, they typically start with one or a few ingredients and apply to them a typical culinary technique such as a braise, roast, or blanche. But how do you braise, roast, or blanche? This gives Colicchio his starting point.
Like all crafts and professions, cooking has it's own lingo. One can listen to a conversation between two chefs and have no idea what kind of end product they will reach based on the words they use to refer to the methods to be used. 'Blanching' is one of my favorites. My rudimentary knowledge of French tells me it is derived from the word for 'white'. One may guess from that that the object of blanching is to make something white. Oddly, the actual intended effect of blanching is often to make something more vividly green. So there you have it. We have some techniques to learn. Colicchio does just that in the first part of the book and succeeds in giving some of the best descriptions of stock and sauce making I have seen. It also covers the techniques of buerre fondu, which few other books discuss and none discuss as well. (Be warned, Colicchio really likes to use butter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joel Sinensky on March 4 2001
Format: Hardcover
This isn't a bad book, but it seemed so facinating at the book store and I had heard so many reccomendations for it I ended up being very dissappointed. Of the few recipes I've tried, they've all been good. But my problem isn't the recipes (which make up only a small part of the book) but his writing. On the back of the book it promises that Tom Collichio reveals his philosiphies on thinking like a chef in his trademark friendly and easy to read manner. He does reveal certain philosiphies (like why he never sautees mushrooms, but sears them) and even though I don't agree with some they were interesting. My problem is the "friendly" logo, which is terribly misplaced. I don't know why, but he just seems to be a kind of arrogant guy. In his descriptions of lectures he gives I understand the point he makes but he just sounds like a snob, the way he talks about questions the students ask and the way he answers them every time. This is a good, high quality and well made book written by a fine chef, but his writing just doesn't beckon you to join in. In his description of the best meal he ever had he seems to almost be mocking the reader as if he knows exactly what they're thinking and has a perfect response. Oh yeah, and he has an uncanny obsession with peanut oil, which I found a bit strange. Some professional chefs might like this but most of us casual chefs just shouldn't bother and learn how to "think like chefs" from nicer people (such as Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef books).
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent cookbook that has a lot of very useful information in it and some tasty recipes. It, at long last, taught me how to properly cook mushrooms, and for that I am obligated to give it five stars.
Now with that formality out of the way, I am free to tee off on this thing. I just made the roast duck with root vegetables and apples recipe, and it was a honking example of awful kitchen testing.
The root vegetable quantities called for are probably in the region of twice as much as you need, but when they say "four turnips," just how big a turnip are we talking? Furthermore, the stuff should really be cut up into bite-sizes, but I guess he prefers to leave that up to the eater. The results on first try are edible, but so autmumal that I forbid this to be served outside of New England in a month that ends with "r"--a prohibition only hinted at in the text.
The worst thing is the truth in advertising problem. The food stylist who took the pictures of the preparations took liberties with the recipes!!! Shock and horror!...The illustration for this particular recipe features ingredients not present in it (what's that leaf doing there...or the thyme?) and leaves out ingredients that should be there, and doesn't cross-hatch the duck skin, etc. etc. etc...
It makes you feel unable when you just can't match the illustration no matter what you do. But these illustrations might not taste better than what the recipe says.
If the book really taught you to think like a chef, it would leave no question "why?" unanswered. As it stands, this title is mostly unfulfilled...the book should be three or four times as long and explain every decision in every recipe and then it would teach you to think like a chef.
As it stands, thanks for the mushroom recipe Mr. Colicchio, and enjoy the five stars.
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By jumpy1 on June 27 2001
Format: Hardcover
First let me say that the roast chicken won me over on the peanut oil issue. Peanut oil and chicken are great together! That recipe is the simplest and if you are a beginner, that is one you should try at least once! I love how simple this book is. It really inspires me to go the the grocery and just wing it. To the reviewer who found him arrogant, I say he is no more arrogant than the NY chefs I've met! At least he's willing to give away his personal point of view so we can all benefit! One other thing, for the reviewer who didn't know what to replace with what -- savoy greens can be easily replaced by other greens or some other cabbage if necessary, as are many of the ingredients. If you have questions about this, see Rose Elliot's 'The Complete Vegetarian Cuisine' -- it has full-color pages of beautiful photographs of all the exotic grains, vegetables, legumes and greens, and how to use them, so you can learn what to replace things with.
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