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I was worried when this book started out as I was thinking it was just another book trying to capitalize on the reality show / Iron Chef craze. The beginning covers the Master Chef exam and was like that. So, initially I was turned off but then the author began to detail a chef, really getting into the person behind the title. He then covered another, the head chef of the French Laundry in Napa Valley. The horizon of cooking then just really began to open through masterful story development. It helps that Michael Ruhlman actually went to the CIA, took classes and has developed a real insight into the craft of cooking and chefs.
The narration was excellent, a good narrator really opens up a book as it should be.
I highly recommend this book.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
I'm not a Kitchen Goddess, rather silly, actually (Seriously--I recently ordered Seared Ahi Tuna and discovered... that sucker's RAW!). But even I know about tension, failure, boisterous personalities, and the drive for perfection. "The Soul of a Chef" chronicles all that and then some.
We open to the enormous pressure to become a Certified Master Chef, follow with a wonderful chef who just makes you feel good, and end with the near perfection of The French Laundry (this latter part, by the way, was the only part I felt that made the book drag a bit).
Along the way is the devastation of having a PERFECT Duck Tureen that is OH NO! Spoiled by unfortunate knife skills. Humidity causing Crepe Crises! Overcooked pasta (Blasphemy! And: The delivery guy can wait... pasta can't)! Respecting food so much that you'll kill your own rabbits, thank you very much (Note: Rabbits scream).
And food combinations that'll have you scratching your head. Only dreamers and geniuses think like that, and God bless them, they're usually right.
Add to this an author whose own studies of cooking have him hungry (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) to seek out food, cooking, creatives, misery and you have a winner of a book. Especially since, when out with one of the most famous food critics, all he can think of is, "I've GOTTA remember to say that next time I'm out," you know you're in the hands of someone who can laugh at himself.
Except for the last part dragging a bit, it's a veritable love song to Thomas Keller, this is a fun book that'll have you cheering for the underdog, groaning when heat makes the shell of the creme brulee soft, and wishing that every chef, sous chef, line cook you know has such wonderful heart. Fine narration, great content, and may I say it? My stomach growled...
22 of 24 people found this review helpful
Good book, but more philosophical and introspective than "The Making of a Chef", which I prefer. However, what really turnes me off is the caricaturization of foreign accents in this narrated version, specifically for French chefs. Totally uncalled for. Also the dramatization was over the top some points. The first book was narrated by other person, who didn't have to imitate foreign accents to deliver the story.