In his second in-depth foray into the world of professional cooking, Michael Ruhlman journeys into the heart of the profession. Observing the rigorous Certified Master Chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America, the most influential cooking school in the country, Ruhlman enters the lives and kitchens of rising star Michael Symon and the renowned Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. This fascinating book will satisfy any reader's hunger for knowledge about cooking and food, the secrets of successful chefs, at what point cooking becomes an art form, and more.Like Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef, this is an instant classic in food writing-one of the fastest growing and most popular subjects today.
Ruhlman manages to deftly convey his enthusiasm for food as well as the enthusiasm of the people he writes about. Instructors and teachers all have their own personal quirks and beliefs and Ruhlman writes them down without seeming too didactic or biased. I especially liked the section on the bread baking course because it’s easy to imagine the love the instructor of that course has for something as seemingly simple as a loaf of bread.
Soul of a Chef is informative and enjoyable to read, but I wouldn’t call it a page-turner. I had been stuck at the last few chapters of the book for a while because I just didn’t feel like finishing it. I do recommend reading it while eating though, because I found myself getting hungry otherwise. The book isn’t the most exciting thing I’ve read, I would recommend it to anyone thinking of attending the CIA.
Not your fault, Michael Ruhlman! It was pretty interesting when I was reading it.
Michel Ruhlman explores this question in his book, The Should of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection. He spends a third of his time observing chefs as they try to attain the ultra elusive Certificated Master Chef (CMC) at the Culinary Institute of America. To this day, the total number of CMCs number less than 100. Is this what it means to be a true chef? The next third he spends observing the inner workings of the Lola restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. Has Michael Symone, the owner of the restaurant, shown what it takes to be the ultimate chef? Lastly, he spends some time at one of the most popular and famous restaurants in the country, French Laundry, in Napa Valley, California. Does the story of failure to success of Thomas Keller exemplify what it means to be a chef? Read and you'll find out.
Ruhlman writes with an easy prose, captivating the reader in and describing in enough detail to get your mouth watering as you try to decide if you want to make the dish yourself. I did find that his narrative did seem to drag on a various points throughout his book, primarily near the end of each of the respective three sections. It really came down to Ruhlman asking himself the questions of what makes a chef a chef. And like most things in life, it really depends on the context of the situation. There's difference ways to measure, and perhaps his observations eventually led to his own self-discovery of what the answer to the question is.
It's a wonderful read, and it did require me to look up a few of the cooking concepts described. He even ends with a few complicated recipes at the end of the book. Perhaps one day if I feel up to the task, then perhaps I will look into these recipes.