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How I Learned To Cook: Culinary Educations from the World's Greatest Chefs

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From the editors of the internationally critically acclaimed Don't Try This At Home, stories by forty of the world's great chefs about how they learned their craft -- not in the confines of culinary school, but in the inspiring and sometimes death-defying moments of trial-and-error that can happen anytime, anywhere. Hilarious, touching, and always surprising, they cover ev From the editors of the internationally critically acclaimed Don't Try This At Home, stories by forty of the world's great chefs about how they learned their craft -- not in the confines of culinary school, but in the inspiring and sometimes death-defying moments of trial-and-error that can happen anytime, anywhere. Hilarious, touching, and always surprising, they cover everything from early adversity to career-making triumphs. How I Learned to Cook is an irresistible treat for cooks (and foodies) of all abilities, and includes stories by such culinary giants as Ferran Adria, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton, Suzanne Goin, Eric Ripert, and more...


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From the editors of the internationally critically acclaimed Don't Try This At Home, stories by forty of the world's great chefs about how they learned their craft -- not in the confines of culinary school, but in the inspiring and sometimes death-defying moments of trial-and-error that can happen anytime, anywhere. Hilarious, touching, and always surprising, they cover ev From the editors of the internationally critically acclaimed Don't Try This At Home, stories by forty of the world's great chefs about how they learned their craft -- not in the confines of culinary school, but in the inspiring and sometimes death-defying moments of trial-and-error that can happen anytime, anywhere. Hilarious, touching, and always surprising, they cover everything from early adversity to career-making triumphs. How I Learned to Cook is an irresistible treat for cooks (and foodies) of all abilities, and includes stories by such culinary giants as Ferran Adria, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton, Suzanne Goin, Eric Ripert, and more...

30 review for How I Learned To Cook: Culinary Educations from the World's Greatest Chefs

  1. 4 out of 5

    DeAnne

    There are some charming stories in this little collection. There are also a stunning array of egos, superiority complexes, and self-promotion. As well, some of the chefs I would have liked to have seen weren't there. I think perhaps putting a story at the beginning that states that "no home cook can do anything a trained chef can do" might have been a mistake considering the likely demographic of the readership. It's never good to insult your readership right out of the gate, unless the publishe There are some charming stories in this little collection. There are also a stunning array of egos, superiority complexes, and self-promotion. As well, some of the chefs I would have liked to have seen weren't there. I think perhaps putting a story at the beginning that states that "no home cook can do anything a trained chef can do" might have been a mistake considering the likely demographic of the readership. It's never good to insult your readership right out of the gate, unless the publishers assumed that nobody but the people *in* the book were going to read the book. All in all, it wasn't informative, and after a couple dozen of the stories, even 1000 words from some of these chefs began to be tedious. There were some real standout entertaining stories, but for the vast majority of them, I'm surprised the hardback covers were heavy enough to contain the egotistical blather.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alexa Hamilton

    I did not expect fantastic essays from chefs about the origins of their cooking careers or skills or whatever but I have to say, despite the fact that many of these chefs are not writers, or the writing they do is limited to cookbooks, the essays were very good. If you don't have the attention span to read twenty essays in a row, just grab the book and read "The Crack-Up" by Johnathan Eisman. A story about the height of the eighties drugged out kitchens, the story will make you laugh out loud. I I did not expect fantastic essays from chefs about the origins of their cooking careers or skills or whatever but I have to say, despite the fact that many of these chefs are not writers, or the writing they do is limited to cookbooks, the essays were very good. If you don't have the attention span to read twenty essays in a row, just grab the book and read "The Crack-Up" by Johnathan Eisman. A story about the height of the eighties drugged out kitchens, the story will make you laugh out loud. If it doesn't, just put the book down, it's not your kind of book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    William Graney

    The title of this book is a little misleading; a more appropriate title might have been “Mildly Amusing Anecdotes From Professional Chefs.” While reading the book I kept thinking that the editors opted for quantity over quality and I think having more expansive entries from fewer chefs would have improved the book. As it was you don’t learn much beyond the “I spent summers shucking clams in Nantucket to support my drug habit” type of narratives. I would have appreciated more Ruhlamn-esque type de The title of this book is a little misleading; a more appropriate title might have been “Mildly Amusing Anecdotes From Professional Chefs.” While reading the book I kept thinking that the editors opted for quantity over quality and I think having more expansive entries from fewer chefs would have improved the book. As it was you don’t learn much beyond the “I spent summers shucking clams in Nantucket to support my drug habit” type of narratives. I would have appreciated more Ruhlamn-esque type depth. The book is similar to a poorly constructed meal in that it lacks continuity and it doesn’t seem like there was much thought put into the overall flow. There were some bright spots though, the story of the immigrant chef from Vietnam and Nancy Silverton’s baguette trials come to mind as the standouts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    Anecdotal and generally quite short essays from various chefs. Given the title I was surprised at how many of them began in medias res with their culinary careers already underway. I felt that most of them were reluctant to expose anything to intimate or unflattering. Like, Anthony Bourdain's contribution (which was actually one of the better-written, a lot of these chefs suck at prose) was entertaining, but was about something that happened when he was already nationally famous and appearing on Anecdotal and generally quite short essays from various chefs. Given the title I was surprised at how many of them began in medias res with their culinary careers already underway. I felt that most of them were reluctant to expose anything to intimate or unflattering. Like, Anthony Bourdain's contribution (which was actually one of the better-written, a lot of these chefs suck at prose) was entertaining, but was about something that happened when he was already nationally famous and appearing on TV. My favorite piece was Rick Bayless talking about becoming obsessed with Julia Child at age ten and getting in trouble for ordering fancy French ingredients on his parents' grocery tab.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Rogers

    Mostly enjoyable tidbits from renowned chefs on how they learned to cook or learned that cooking was their career. Some funny, some poignant, some distasteful. Interesting read in light of Adoxograph's career as a pastry chef. I found the final essay a downer and a negative way to finish a mostly enjoyable read: call me stuffy but reading about a gang of early 20-something getting high on anything they could in the early 70s is not my cup of tea.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ikyoto

    I actually hate giving ratings to anthologies, since Invariably there seems to be a range on quality within. This book had some very fascinating stories and some rather dull ones.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kati Davenport

    This collection of essays includes poignant stories from some of the leading names in the culinary community. Chefs, such as Mario Batali, Ferran Adria, David Chang and Mark Bittman (and many others!), discuss significant moments that shaped their culinary careers — from their first foyers into the kitchen (whether professionally or as a child) to unforgettable mistakes and errors. Yet, out of all these essays, the two that stuck with me the most were Marcella Hazan's "Lunch with Victor" and Mar This collection of essays includes poignant stories from some of the leading names in the culinary community. Chefs, such as Mario Batali, Ferran Adria, David Chang and Mark Bittman (and many others!), discuss significant moments that shaped their culinary careers — from their first foyers into the kitchen (whether professionally or as a child) to unforgettable mistakes and errors. Yet, out of all these essays, the two that stuck with me the most were Marcella Hazan's "Lunch with Victor" and Mara Martin's "A Flower in Venice." The "acknowledged godmother of Italian cooking in America," Marcella Hazan moved to the United States with her Italian-America husband from Italy, after studying to become a science teacher. An immigrant to this country, speaking no English upon arrival, Hazan's moments of culture shock really spoke to me. At one point, she describes her first visit to an American grocery store , commenting how "everything is in a coffin, wrapped in plastic" and her fear of the refrigerator in their apartment (another coffin in her eyes). Her essay ultimately chronicles the growth of her passion and love of food and her full immersion in the culinary world as she became a cookbook author and cooking instructor. Chef Martin owns a Michelin-star restaurant in Venice, known for its seafood specialities. She writes about her journey to becoming a chef, having no previous culinary education. Yet more interesting she speaks of her dedication and passion in learning about and incorporating Venetian specialities and local ingredients in her dishes (being from a different area in Italy). Marcella Hazan even makes a guest appearance in Martin's essay, being a good friend of Martin and patron of her restaurant.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Neelz

    Famous chefs describe pivotal moments in their early careers. All of the stories are interesting and will bring a smile to your face. (Most of these involve harrowing kitchen incidents and punishments.) These stories really don't gloss over the drug culture that used to (still is?) reign in professional kitchens. It's a little disconcerting to read about the mild, sensible chef you see on tv and imagine her throwing back shots and dropping acid at work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alyce

    While most of the contributors share anecdotes that have nothing to do with the way they learned to cook, and it is questionable whether they are all among the ranks of the “world’s greatest chefs”, there is enough interesting material to recommend this to people addicted to food memoirs. Rick Bayless's story about how Julia Child affected his life was amongst the best, and more than made up for the self-serving, score-settling anecdotes of some of his peers.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    They're chefs, not writers, and you can see it in the erratic writing style. The essays are loosely edited, and not well-organized. But since it's about a topic dear to my heart, I did enjoy reading this book quite a bit. For a really great book on the professional kitchen, I'd recommend Michael Ruhlman's Making of a Chef.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Although I didn't know of some of the chefs featured in this book, I was surprised by how many I was aware of. I'm not always a fan of compilation books, but I enjoyed reading the majority of the stories featured in this book. Some stories were amusing, some were serious, but all held my interest.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    I enjoyed reading these short essays from some of the royalty of the food world. How funny was it to read about Sara Moulton's drinking and toking college days and how she began in a dive cooking burgers. I loved Jacques Torres' story f how he got his first restaurant job on a dare and went on to become one of the premier pastry chefs.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I love food. I am fascinated by chefs. How could I not love this book. This is a collection of short stories from some of the best chefs in the world. They give you a snapshot of how they realized their place was in the kitchen. The stories are comical, to say the least. If your hungry for a peak inside the lives of the all-mighty celeb chef then check it out.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    This book has been wonderful - it's a collection of stories by many different chefs. It's easy to read a story or two and then set the book down and pick it up again later. My favorite story is by Masaharu Morimoto (who you may recognize from tv's Iron Chef.) His story is very touching and thought provoking - a story I will think about for years to come.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    I received this book because the giver knew I was a Top Chef/Master Chef fan. I put it on the shelf and thought I'd never read it but happened to pull it down one day and give it a shot. I thought it was a lot of fun, funny, and interesting stories from many very famous chefs. If you enjoy this world you'll enjoy this book. An easy read and enjoyable read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    I really enjoyed this book. The individual chefs' stories of the formative experiences that preceded their coming into "great chef" status were so interesting and diverse. Some were heart-warming, some were horrifying, and each gave the reader a little glimpse into life in an inspired chef's kitchen. Good stuff!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book was interesting. I couldn't get into many of the stories that were about chefs I've never heard of but those that I did read were interesting. It wasn't quite the book I was expecting it to be. I was thinking it would be the entire story of how each chef got their start but I guess that would be a much bigger book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    J.C.

    Borrowed this one from the store and skimmed around, didn't read everything but I read enough. Some pretty good essays all around. I just kept getting to the end of each essay and kept wanting to know more from that chef but couldn't because it's an anthology. In that regard, it was kind of a disappointment.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bird

    A hodge podge of unrelated and nonparallel stories by chefs about there experiences, early or late in their career. I got it b/c I thought there'd be things like, "Step 1) Hold the knife this way." I finished it because the stories are interesting enough to make it likeable.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Lawless

    Mostly great stories with just a few that were less interesting. My two favorites were Chris Bianco's story about visiting family in Italy and Nancy Silverton's story about developing her bread recipes.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    A very funny anthology of stories from some of the world's best chefs. Stories of disasters, successes, rotten customers, bad nights and other bits of mayhem. Foodies will love this one. Recommended. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/content_40393... A very funny anthology of stories from some of the world's best chefs. Stories of disasters, successes, rotten customers, bad nights and other bits of mayhem. Foodies will love this one. Recommended. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/content_40393...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    A fun read. I enjoyed the variety of stories. Some humorous, some sentimental, some a good explanation of why they are who they are. Quick, easy, and worth it for anyone who enjoys the world of cooking.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    It's interesting to read how the renowned chefs featured in this book got into the craft of cooking/baking. Many by sheer chance and many more by hard work and unwavering passion to be where they are today. It could happen to any one of us. =)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paola Piliado

    I loved how unique and fun some of those stories are, I really enjoyed it, and recommend it a lot. The memories are a great way to give us a glance of what our food means to the people that creates it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ellyn

    This is gone from my e-reader...looked for it a few times on my various reader apps to pick up again. I can't recall what site I got it from as a freebie. Going to try and find it again. I only read Mario Batali!

  26. 4 out of 5

    CJ

    Loved the first few stories in particular. Rare for a compilation to capture the stories in the subject's voice. All of your favorite chefs telling the stories that helped shape their careers or at least their interest in cooking. Nicely done.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diane C.

    Dozens of chefs, each in a short chapter, talk about how they got started in the biz, who taught them, where they learned the most important things about cooking and/or running a restaurant. Each as different as the chef him/herself. I loved this book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Little vignettes of how popular chefs came to their discipline, learned something important about their cooking or an experience they had in the kitchen. I had hoped for useful techniques that beginning cooks could learn from and even some recipes, neither of which is here.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    This book made me want to learn from a professional- or at least all the best cooks I know. I don't want to go to culinary school or work in a restaurant, I just want to learn how to cook amazing food so I never eat boring again!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christiane

    For anyone in the food business, or who fancies themselves a "foodie", this was great fun

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