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The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection Paperback – Aug 1 2001
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For his first book, The Making of a Chef, hands-on journalist Michael Ruhlman attended the most prestigious cooking school in the U.S., the Culinary Institute of America. He also earned his chef's whites and began cooking professionally. Ruhlman ventures further into the secret lives of chefs with his second book, The Soul of a Chef. This enthusiastically researched report is divided into three parts: The first concerns the Certified Master Chef exam, a brutal weeklong cooking marathon that measures the skill levels of professional chefs. The second and third parts of Ruhlman's book are devoted to the careers of two different chefs, Michael Symon of Cleveland's Lola Bistro and Thomas Keller of Napa Valley's legendary French Laundry. The thread connecting these three tales together is Ruhlman's quest for culinary perfection: Does it exist? Is it possible? How is it even measurable? Ruhlman does indeed stumble onto the realization of his high-minded ideal, serving up a palatable conclusion for hard-core foodies equally obsessed with the perfect meal. --Sumi Hahn Almquist --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In this follow-up to his cooking school odyssey, The Making of a Chef, Ruhlman examines what causes chefs to seek absolute perfection. The book is divided into three parts: in the first, Ruhlman observes the arduous Certified Master Chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America, which was the setting for his first book. The second segment focuses on Michael Symon, a rising star at Lola (in Cleveland) who was recently dubbed one of the 10 best chefs in America by Food & Wine. The third is dedicated to Thomas Keller, chef of California's esteemed French Laundry. While Ruhlman's play-by-play descriptions of chefs struggling to cook exactly as Escoffier dictated 90 years earlier can be exciting (and the stories of those who failed heartbreaking), they strongly echo his previous book's account of culinary education. The author fares better in his portrait of Keller's development into an exacting perfectionist. But even here Ruhlman often slips into simply writing about the process of working on The French Laundry Cookbook, to which he contributed the text, or repeating stories that appear in it. Overall this book makes a fine introduction to Ruhlman's writing, but readers of his previous books will be disappointed to find the chef reheating leftovers. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
He then travels to two of America's finest restaurants and explores the character of the Chefs who created them. Along the way, we meet some other colorful characters and some very delightful-sounding food.
That's it in a nutshell. The reason I love this book is because it shows the heart and intensity of what I can only call the 'love of food' and the 'striving for excellence' that both of these Chefs possess. The discussion of their ingenuity in creating new dishes is very interesting as well, but it is the sheer PASSION for cooking that Michael communicates to us that kept my eyeballs glued to the pages.
I have now read both of Michael's books on this subject: The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef. I finished them both in about two weeks and my understanding of the world of cooking, not to mention my faith in the human race (how could you not love a species that is capable of such positive, again, passion??), has simply been...transformed.
Thank you, Michael.
Ruhlman is a facile writer but I am also not sure that he got deep enough into the psyches of the chefs he included into the book to justify the title. It still is an enjoyable read that I would recommend.
The first essay is a telling of the events in one examination for the title of 'Certified Master Chef'. The certification is carried out and bestowed by the Culinary Institute of America, often characterized as the Harvard of American cooking schools. The examination runs for more than a week when, on each day, the candidate must complete a particular task. The candidate knows the object of each task at least a day in advance, so they may at least mentally prepare for their challenge. Almost all tasks are taken from the pages of classic French cuisine, some lifted almost directly from the pages of Escoffier's books on the subject. Out of about a dozen qualifiers competing at each session, held once every six months, usually only two or three candidates pass the test and are awarded the title. The author participates in the competition under the ruse of being an inspector from a fictional qualifying organization that is verifying that the tests are worthy of an imaginary certification. In that way, the author can observe and interview all the candidates without arousing suspicion or apprehension in the candidates. Thus, this book picks up the narrative on American culinary careers at very much the same place the author left off at the end of his first culinary investigation 'The Making of a Chef'.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
It will make you think differently about restaurants (what goes into a well prepared meal) and cooking (learn how the pros do it).Published on Dec 30 2010 by Bobi
Who would have thought that a person could crave a gallantine? My husband is currently attending culinary school and after reading this book I am begging him to try the... Read morePublished on Aug. 22 2003 by baileye
I like this book alot, but not enough information on the professional exams. I recommend purchasing The Study Guide for the National Servsafe Exam: Key Review Questions and... Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2003
I really liked Michael's first book, and liked this one just as much. BUT I have a MAJOR problem with one thing - in the first section of the book, dealing with the CMC exam, he... Read morePublished on April 25 2003
Writer and trained chef Ruhlman (The Making of a Chef) claims to be searching for the essence of what drives a great chef. Read morePublished on Sept. 11 2002