The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary

The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America This book stands alone as a brilliant introduction to exactly why the CIA is such a fantastic education for a chef Nothing is left to intuition or presumed knowledge, everything is taught whether it is culinary maths or exactly how you lay out bones to roast for the perfect stock Michael Ruhlman did most of the course both training to be a chef and writing about it as a journalist and so the book is rich with personalities and anecdotes.Molecular gastronomy is not something that the CIA has mu This book stands alone as a brilliant introduction to exactly why the CIA is such a fantastic education for a chef Nothing is left to intuition or presumed knowledge, everything is taught whether it is culinary maths or exactly how you lay out bones to roast for the perfect stock Michael Ruhlman did most of the course both training to be a chef and writing about it as a journalist and so the book is rich with personalities and anecdotes.Molecular gastronomy is not something that the CIA has much interest in It is very much based on French gastronomy But nonetheless you can t help thinking that building up to the fancy smears and spit foams of heston Bluementhal and Ferran Adria from the building blocks of a traditional culinary education is probably better than just going in one time with gels and the powdery crackle of dry ice cream.More than anything Ruhlman shows what an extremely tough course is this Associates Degree in the Culinary Arts 21 months of turn up even in blizzard conditions or get marked down, chefs alwaysturn up, including proper professional experience not just at the compulsory externship but also in the four restaurants the CIA runs These restaurants are open to the public who pay for their food, so they aren t about to smile politely at badly cooked food because it was prepared by a student At the end of the course, the students can go on to a Bachelor s degree, specialisations such as Pastry, or onesscience or business based All of them extremely expensive.But once out in the real world, the newly minted chefs can command much higher salaries than chefs who are self taught or trained at lesser schools It s not just the kudos of being a CIA graduate, it s also that employers know they have been trained with rigour, that all the bases have been covered, that these new chefs lack nothing except experience If you read and enjoy the book as much as I did, you will probably want to read The Soul of a Chef The Journey Toward Perfection Also an excellent book It helps to have read the Making of a Chef first though as Ruhlman has already been through the CIA and is revisiting and so should you be to get the full flavour of the follow up book I remember how impressed I was by this book when it first came out Rereading it so many years later, I am still impressed You are pulled inside the Culinary Institute and also that mentality which separates the chefs from the cooks.And, most importantly, it is thoroughly enjoyable although conveying tons of cooking information No wonder I love it. The Making of a Chef documents Michael Ruhlman s experiences inside the Culinary Institute of America CIA The first half of the book was especially interesting to me the approach to the training and content of the classes, the seriousness of the instructors, the techniques and cooking details, the overall intensity of the experience But it s told from the perspective of a journalist While Ruhlman had interest and potential as a cook, he didn t approach things with the same focus and abso The Making of a Chef documents Michael Ruhlman s experiences inside the Culinary Institute of America CIA The first half of the book was especially interesting to me the approach to the training and content of the classes, the seriousness of the instructors, the techniques and cooking details, the overall intensity of the experience But it s told from the perspective of a journalist While Ruhlman had interest and potential as a cook, he didn t approach things with the same focus and absorption as some of his fellow students did As the story about the blizzard seems to illustrate Ruhlman drove into the city in a snowstorm to take a practical exam his performance was driven by basic competitiveness and the need to prove he was not a wimp He also got caught up in much of the minutiae blonde vs brown roue, for example which fascinated him farthan it did me I think the other question that preoccupied him was whether or not cooking could be taught Although stated multiple times in multiple ways by the CIA instructors, I didn t get the sense that Ruhlman fully grasped the relationship between the basic skills taught at the CIA , experience, and personal talent Anyone with sufficient motivation and common sense can be taught to cook well those that excel are driven to apply their skills ininnovative and creative ways I am not a foodie and I m a lousy cook, but I love cooking shows, the Food Channel, and interesting books about food and cooking This is not an interesting book about food and cooking.Ruhlman is a writer who went to chef school at the Culinary Institute of America, America s premiere cooking school to write about it, but one of his teachers told him he wasn t a real chef This pissed Ruhlman off, so he decided to prove he could become a real chef, and he went through the whole program with I am not a foodie and I m a lousy cook, but I love cooking shows, the Food Channel, and interesting books about food and cooking This is not an interesting book about food and cooking.Ruhlman is a writer who went to chef school at the Culinary Institute of America, America s premiere cooking school to write about it, but one of his teachers told him he wasn t a real chef This pissed Ruhlman off, so he decided to prove he could become a real chef, and he went through the whole program with as much determination as any of the other students.This could be an interesting saga, especially written by a professional writer, but instead it reads like the journal of a cooking school student He tells us about his classes, his teachers, his services, now and then rambles a bit about brown sauce or tells us something about one of his fellow students, and just keeps going like that all the way to the end There are no interesting facts or surprising revelations about food or cooking school, just a very dry, matter of fact account of the industry Ruhlman s writing is journalistic and without personality.I suppose if you re thinking about going to cooking school, this is a good book to get a taste of what it s like But compared to, for example, Trevor Corson s The Story of Sushi or one of Anthony Bourdain s books, this book was just dull It s possible that this book has helped change my life I was already leaning towards trying to become a chef, but this book may have provided the push that I needed I have never before been so engaged in a subject, literally hanging on every word I mean who wouldn t be interested in the best rue to use for making the consummate brown sauce All right, I know that most of you wouldn t, but to me, that was fascinating Told with interesting anecdotes and insightful musings, Ruhlman paint It s possible that this book has helped change my life I was already leaning towards trying to become a chef, but this book may have provided the push that I needed I have never before been so engaged in a subject, literally hanging on every word I mean who wouldn t be interested in the best rue to use for making the consummate brown sauce All right, I know that most of you wouldn t, but to me, that was fascinating Told with interesting anecdotes and insightful musings, Ruhlman paints a picture of the CIA, that, by all rights, shouldn t be available uness you have attended the school.This book did for me what all good books should It made me want to dive in to the subject I want to start making my own stocks, I want to gasp try baking, something I ve never been interested in.If you are remotely interested in the growing foodie world, this is a must read The Making of a Chef is an interesting peek inside the Culinary Institute of America, which is the most important culinary school in the United States Ruhlman is passionate about food, and writes about it well Had I read this book in the 90 s, I would have given it 4 stars.Many things in the world of food, however, have changed significantly In the 90 s, food wasn t intellectualized beyond the small sphere of bay area hippies who championed farm to table operations That s not just speculatio The Making of a Chef is an interesting peek inside the Culinary Institute of America, which is the most important culinary school in the United States Ruhlman is passionate about food, and writes about it well Had I read this book in the 90 s, I would have given it 4 stars.Many things in the world of food, however, have changed significantly In the 90 s, food wasn t intellectualized beyond the small sphere of bay area hippies who championed farm to table operations That s not just speculation, since Ruhlman himself admits that only one of his fellow CIA students really thought about the food Now, farmers markets are in cities across the country, and people are becoming increasingly concerned about organic produce, free range meats, and sustainability When the book was written, Top Chef and all the cooking competition knock offs didn t exist last year, I had to wait three months to snag a reservation at Top Chef Stephanie Izard s Girl and the Goat worth it, by the way But the biggest change is the food itself When I ate at Wolfgang Puck s Spago in the early 2000 s, I thought smoked salmon pizza was the height of culinary creativity Thinking back on it, the pizza seems like something I might decide to make only while super high and out of prosciutto High end dining has changed The French Laundry was bought by Thomas Keller in 1994, but it didn t become the best restaurant in the world until 2003 In the late 90 s, oysters and pearls would have been an out of this world, brand new, never before attempted experience I m sure they re still out of this world, at least in Keller s comptent hands Today, that kind of dish might get you kicked off of Top Chef, since it s been over copied and overdone If I had lived in Chicago during the mid to late 90 s as a 20 something, mind you During the late 90 s, my 13 year old self was doing a lot of cooking, but most of it consisted of loaded tacos and chicken pot pies , I would have been doing my best to grab a reservation at Charlie Trotter s Most of my Chicagoan foodie friends only vaguely know who Charlie Trotter is In a world where you can experience whatever Grant Achatz is cooking up, Trotter seems like a dinosaur and if he s really the asshole he s purported to be, he probably deserves it Nowadays, people know who great chefs like Graham Elliot and Rick Bayless are They d tweet about it if they saw them at Whole Foods People really, deeply care about food.This didn t seem to be true in the 90 s And I m not saying that because 90 s me wasinterested in N sync than cuisine I m saying it because things have changed a lot since Top Chef, and the Food Network, and blogging, and Yelp Hell, even my mom venerates farm to table advocates like Alice Waters and Rick Bayless Ruhlman s book loses something, not by any fault of its own, but because it doesn t anticipate the revolution that was about to take place When Ruhlman started culinary school, El Bulli hadn t even gotten its third star, so I don t blame him for not being prescient enough to predict the importance of molecular gastronomy I do wonder what a book about the CIA would be like today though literary agents, I mthan willing to write this, if you ll pay for it.Nowhere is the shift from California pizza to European inspired locally sourced seasonal sharable small plates with organic wines and small batch craft beerapparent than at the end of the book, where Ruhlman describes his experiences working on restaurant row in other words, at the restaurants run by the CIA I get the distinct impression that I wouldn t enjoy eating there There s some real strange health food cooking here, which feels particularly outdated Apparently, the goal of St Andrew s Cafe, one of the restaurants at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, was to serve healthier foods In the fat phobic 90 s, this was done by piling plates full of fat free carbohydrates and replacing real foods, like cream, with evaporated skim milk No, just no It s hard to believe that students learned to make pasta and pizza as a health food Luckily, the CIA has abandoned this bizarre practice by turning St Andrew s into a sustainable farm to table concept I bet Ruhlman s pleased that my friends and I can spend a Friday evening at The Purple Pig, snacking on house cured lardo and spreading bone marrow on artisan bread I m sure he s evenpleased that we can hold a long, and intellectually thrilling, conversation about our favorite ways to cure ham I m seriously obsessed with prosciutto di parma, but my friends swear that jambon is far superior We ll have to agree to disagree But the thing Ruhlman would be most happy about is our realization that a quality stock is the most important thing you can learn how to cook I ve given stock out as a birthday gift No joke Because that s one thing that hasn t changed knowing the basics will get you further than an immersion circulator ever can This is a mediocre book about a really great experience Mr Ruhlman s writing is inconsistent, and a little hero worship y This said, it is a book about become good at something that he and the other chefs and students in the book clearly loves, and the enthusiasm shines through and makes for a compelling read This said again, this is only a compelling read if you know something about fine dining and food, and are interested in immersing yourself in that world There s not much to this book This is a mediocre book about a really great experience Mr Ruhlman s writing is inconsistent, and a little hero worship y This said, it is a book about become good at something that he and the other chefs and students in the book clearly loves, and the enthusiasm shines through and makes for a compelling read This said again, this is only a compelling read if you know something about fine dining and food, and are interested in immersing yourself in that world There s not much to this book for non foodie readers, and his dwelling on points of roux color and plating would bore many potential readers As for me, it made me want to go to cooking school, but made me definitely not want to become a chef This book is primarily about the Culinary Institute of America aka CIA , the way it trains chefs or did, at the time when this book was written , its history and personality sketches of some of the key players instructors, the president, other students But there is also a slew of information about cooking itself how to make a roux, different kinds of sauces, etc , how to work the front of the house i.e., wait staff , the meaning of food, and most of all, what it takes to make a chef I t This book is primarily about the Culinary Institute of America aka CIA , the way it trains chefs or did, at the time when this book was written , its history and personality sketches of some of the key players instructors, the president, other students But there is also a slew of information about cooking itself how to make a roux, different kinds of sauces, etc , how to work the front of the house i.e., wait staff , the meaning of food, and most of all, what it takes to make a chef I thought it was fascinating even though a lot of it went over my head because I am decidedly not a cook It did, however, inspire me to beadventuresome in my cooking and to taketime to make the preparing and partaking of food into quality experiences Now in paperback, the eye opening book that was nominated for aJames Beard Foundation award in the Writing on Food categoryIn the winter of , 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 I got on to this book after getting hooked on the Bravo TV show Top Chef Seeing these chefs work with such short time frames and surprise ingredients and still produce dishes that looked amazing and presumably it is TV after all tasted amazing inspired me to see what I could find at the library that taughtthan just recipes a book that carried some insight into the art of cooking Hearing that a number of the chefs on the show had studied at the Culinary Institute of America, I look I got on to this book after getting hooked on the Bravo TV show Top Chef Seeing these chefs work with such short time frames and surprise ingredients and still produce dishes that looked amazing and presumably it is TV after all tasted amazing inspired me to see what I could find at the library that taughtthan just recipes a book that carried some insight into the art of cooking Hearing that a number of the chefs on the show had studied at the Culinary Institute of America, I looked up related books and this one came near the top I m not quite halfway through but it is a wonderful read so far Michael Ruhlman is a writer who went to the school to write about how great chefs are made he enrolled in the classes with, he makes it clear at the beginning, humble aspirations as far as the training goes This changes after he is challenged by his first teacher that Ruhlman probably doesn t have the makings of a great chef From that point on he sets out to give the training his all, no longer just an author on a writing assignment, but as a genuine student Ruhlman gives me exactly what I hoped I d get out of the book descriptions of the training from a student s perspective, so we the readers can get a well written glimpse into what taking the chef s training program at the CIA is like, and in doing so hopefully gain some perspective into the art of cooking ourselves


About the Author: Michael Ruhlman

Michael Ruhlman born 1963 in Cleveland, Ohio is an American writer He is the author of 11 books, and is best known for his work about and in collaboration with American chefs, as well as other works of non fiction.Ruhlman grew up in Cleveland and was educated at University School a private boys day school in Cleveland and at Duke University, graduating from the latter in 1985 He worked a series of odd jobs including briefly at the New York Times and traveled before returning to his hometown in 1991 to work for a local magazine.While working at the magazine, Ruhlman wrote an article about his old high school and its new headmaster, which he expanded into his first book, Boys Themselves A Return to Single Sex Education 1996.For his second book, The Making of a Chef 1997 , Ruhlman enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, completing the course, to produce a first person account of the techniques, personalities, and mindsets of culinary education at the prestigious chef s school The success of this book produced two follow ups, The Soul of a Chef 2000 and The Reach of a Chef 2006.


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