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Becoming a Chef Paperback – October 10, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0471152095 ISBN-10: 0471152099 Edition: Revised Edition
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I have a cookbook collection numbering in the mid-hundreds...and never have I seen such a wealth of insight and practical knowledge stuffed between the covers of a book."
--Barry Nelson, BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO

"Based on interviews with 60 top American chefs, this now-classic volume describes career stories and provides advice to those starting on a professional culinary path."
--M.M. Pack, THE AUSTIN CHRONICLE

"BECOMING A CHEF has become a cult classic. More than 100,000 copies have been sold...Its lessons have attracted readers far beyond the kitchen...Warren Bennis and Tom Peters are said to be fans."
--RESTAURANTS & INSTITUTIONS

"Page and Dornenburg have been publishing innovative books about cooking and the chef world for longer than I have. Their popular BECOMING A CHEF [has been] a valuable research tool for me throughout the years." 
--Michael Ruhlman

"Superb...A book rich with anecdote, insight and passion...In all, a completely absorbing book."
--Ann Shayne, BOOK PAGE

From the Inside Flap


"This is not a profession that you choose.  It chooses you."
--Norman Van Aken

Essential reading for anyone who loves food, the newly revised James Beard Award-winning BECOMING A CHEF is an entertaining and up-to-date insider's guide to the chef's profession, providing the first behind-the-scenes look into some of the most celebrated restaurant kitchens across the nation today.  More than 60 leading chefs -- including some of the newest and brightest starts in the field -- discuss the inspiration, effort and quirks of fate that turned would-be painters, anthropologists and football players into culinary artists.

Daniel Boulud, Emeril Lagasse, Nancy Silverton, Charlie Trotter, Alice Waters, and dozens of other leading chefs reveal their most significant influences -- including childhood memories, formal apprenticeships, world travel, memorable meals, and beloved books -- and share their secrets for staying on top.  From Mario Batali's thoughts on how to open a restaurant with less than $50,000 to guidance from Gina DePalma, Emily Luchetti and Amy Scherber on becoming a baker or pastry chef, BECOMING A CHEF is filled with candid advice and thought-provoking insights for any food lover interested in the secrets of running a successful restaurant or creating inspired cuisine at home.

Throughout, the chefs share recipes representing cherished culinary memories, including Chris Bianco's Watermelon Salad, Traci Des Jardins' dad's Best-Ever Roast Chicken, Marcel Desaulniers's mother's Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Rick Bayless's signature Chocolate Pecan Pie.

A celebration of passion, persistence, and the drive to succeed in one of today's most exciting and fastest-growing careers, BECOMING A CHEF is a book for anyone inspired by the courage and commitment it takes to follow a dream.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; Revised Edition edition (October 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471152099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471152095
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Jason, Professional Chef on May 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
AS a professional of 10 years now(currently working with Wolfgang Puck), this book should be a must read before you commit to being a chef.

It gives a realistic look into what working in the high end kitchens in the World is REALLY like.(The long hours, heat, working sick, tempers,low pay, etc.) What you see on cooking shows is staged and is not a indication of the day to day grind that a kitchen hits you with. Most people have NO IDEA what they are getting themselves into!

I suggest to anyone who is considering taking on the challenge of earning the title "Professional Chef"-REad this book, get a job in kitchen before you spend money on cooking school to see if you like it, and ask yourself-do you love food, or do you just think it would be a glory filled way to fame?
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By T. Kirkham on October 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Dornenburg & Page first published Becoming A Chef in 1995, and it immediately became required reading for anyone interested in a culinary. Now, they've updated the book for the 21st century, and the results are perfect reading for the aspiring chef.

The duo have included a lot of personal insight into the making of a chef, and have interviewed dozens of other chefs for their insight as well. Speaking from experience, the duo outlines the hard work, and the sometimes tedious processes one must go through to become a success in the culinary world.

They devote each chapter to a particular subject, dealing with cooking schools, apprenticeships, opening a restaurant and making it a success, and how to further one's education on their own.

Many ideas included in Becoming A Chef, and many of the references included in the excellent reference appendices, became the basis for the information offered up on my own website, The Moonsault Chef, and will no doubt be of countless value to those considering a culinary career.

The book is also filled with recipes from many of the over two dozen chefs who contributed their comments and experience to the educational sections of the book.

There is no doubt that if you're considering a career in the culinary arts, be it as a chef, a nutritionist, a caterer, or other related profession, this book is one of the first you will want in your library. It is required reading, and will serve you well as you move forward in your career, and offers a fascinating glimpse inside the culinary world for those who are just looking to get a little look inside what it means to be a professional chef.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "bubbasjinx" on May 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book takes the reader beyond the glamour of the celebrity chef and into the fire. Anyone considering entering the culinary feild must read this book. The authors speak with passion about the food culture and what is required to acheive success.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas C. Palone on November 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am going to culinary school in a few months and that's what sparked my interest in buying this book, and I am sure glad I did! I have read it through several times, this book gives so much helpful advice to the young people who want to be in the culinary field. I really like that they have insight from so many different well-known chefs throughout the entire book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Heather Champion on May 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I think this book was written with me in mind, I loved it from front to back cover. I felt a connection with the chefs and thought that I was the only one who had feelings of love when cooking food for friends. It confirmed to me that I am making the right career change in my life and spending the next year in kitchens doing work experience and then moving overseas especially to Europe to learn my trade with life experiences before i even begin my apprentaship... and I am 42 years old!! Never too old to be passionate about life... cooking!!
This was the first time I have used the amazon site and was very happy with my experience.. Thank you!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. Co "Fred" on February 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book takes you in-depth into the life and passion of a chef using well-known chefs as examples. It's a breath of fresh air with insights to inspire and aspire. You'll love this book whether you are just curious or you're already in the business. You'll find out how common the lives of well-known chefs are from their struggles to their road to success.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Stiver on January 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a professional chef for the past ten years I find this book interesting and informative. There are many good stories from other chefs in the industry and will be helpful for young culinary students.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ThirstyBrooks on November 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Becoming a Chef goes a long way toward describing what it takes to succeed as a chef. Just keep in mind that's like reading In Search of Excellence and saying you've gone a long way toward learning to become a manager. If you're looking for a book that will make you a star, I doubt you'll find one.

This book explains how the stars of the restaurant business achieved their success. It explains tons of restaurant industry history, and lots of the relationships on which successes have been built. It appeals to our inner sense that hard work and high standards lead to opportunity and success. Becoming a Chef deserves recognition as an inspirational book about how to succeed in America.

If you know how to read between the lines, Dornenburg and Page also warn that in this business most people will labor in obscurity. Be warned by the inventor of the Red camera (a video camera of such exquisite power it can take IMAX movies) that the fastest way to develop something awesome and have a billion dollars is to start with TWO billion dollars you made in some other business. Even those who come to the restaurant business well capitalized should know there is no guarantee of success.

But if restaurants are your passion, this book will show you how other people found their way in a business where you are judged anew with every plate you put together. If your standards are high enough to succeed with customers, you still won't succeed all the time. You'll want to ask how do you stay motivated to stay at the peak of your game. No book has the right answer for you, but Dornenburg and Page explain the answers to this question described by many of the stars in the industry.
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