Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Professional Chef
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Customer Reviews

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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on December 31, 2007
The Professional Chef is a well-organized, fairly complete cooking text and a very beautiful book. It deserves its great reviews. However, On Cooking by Labensky and Hause is somewhat longer (and thus more complete) and contains much more detailed exposition and recipes than The Professional Chef. It is not as flashy as The Professional Chef: If you were in a book store trying to choose between the two in a short amount of time, The Professional Chef would probably command your purchase; however, I own both and every single time I look for information or recipes, On Cooking has much more complete information.

Some examples: In On Cooking, there is a whole chapter on knife skills, as compared to sections in The Professional Chef. On Cooking's recipes include nutrition information and generally consume one or more pages. In The Professional Chef, each recipe consists of a quarter-page worth of information, though many of them are (beautifully) typeset to fill an entire page, so many of the book's pages consist mostly of blank space. The Professional Chef's section on anatomy of eggs and identification of quality and freshness is a very brief affair while On Cooking has tables of information, charts, and illustrative drawings. Furthermore, in On Cooking, the information about eggs in general is located in the same chapter as everything else on eggs, whereas The Professional Chef is organized like a culinary curriculum: one learns about how to select eggs long before learning how to cook them, so the section on eggs themselves occurs toward the beginning of the book, while the chapter on how to cook them occurs at toward the end of the book.

On Cooking is the more expensive and less flashy (but by no means less well-illustrated) of the two but it really is a superior informational resource.
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on January 23, 2008
I have been looking for a book to help me make the leap from a so-so cook to a so-so chef, to be able to create my own dishes and free myself from recipes sometimes. My wife got me this book for Christmas, and while it has some good information on cooking techniques and other basics, it does not really live up to its reputation.

As other reviewers have noted, it is geared towards beginner chefs. This means: 1) people who have almost no knowledge about how cooked food arrives on their plate, 2) those interested in pursuing a career in restaurants. I thought the large scale recipes (gallons of stock; ten servings) wouldn't be a big problem, but it is much harder to scale down to family size than I thought. The "how-to" info is way too basic; if you watch Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network regularly, you probably already know most of what is in the book, and Alton gives much more in depth knowledge, I think.

The book is more useful as an encyclopedia of food: sections on world cuisines and their central ingredients; breakdowns of meat cuts, fish varieties, grains, pastas, etc. and their properties and best uses. Stock and sauce making are particularly good sections also. For $44 I would say it is okay, but I don't think it is worth the full cover price. For that, get Good Eats on DVD.
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on May 23, 2011
I bought this book because Michael Ruhlman, in The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen, recommends it, as have other reviewers, as a must-have chef's bible. Personally, after having purchased the book, I was unimpressed. The book is indeed a hefty tome at 1230 pages and 8 pounds but, unfortunately, all that weight doesn't translate into a lot of substance. Part two of the book is a 110 section entitled 'World cuisines' that purports to discuss the essential characteristics of different national and regional cuisines. In reality, though, this is a topic that can, and does, fill thousands of books and in trying to cover it in 100 odd pages is to inevitably doom the coverage to nothing more than a few brief generalizations. Likewise, in a book that is so clearly founded in classical French cookery, one would have thought that sauces would be extensively covered in some depth. As it is, however, they are accorded the same sort of superficial treatment as was given to world cuisines and, in the end analysis, I would have to say that the old standby, Joy of Cooking, does just as good if not better job for a cheaper price. Sadly, aside from the fact that 'The Professional Chef' is nicely illustrated, this comparison largely holds true for much of the book. When all is said and done, I would have to acknowledge that this is a pretty decent comprehensive book for the novice home cook but to tout it as a bible for professional chefs is to over-hype the product.
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on January 21, 2007
I'm a reasonably good "amateur gourmet" and, based on the reviews, ordered this book with a hope of expanding my knowledge. Frankly, if I'd had a chance to see it in a book store, I would have passed it up - at least at full price. Might have bought it at a deep discount, but probably not.

Why? It is probably an okay book for a young student with little "world experience" and not a lot of cooking background but for anyone who has been seriously active in the kitchen for a while it contains a lot of material that I felt was not all that useful. For example:

There is a lengthy section on the cuisines of the world: characteristics, how they developed, primary ingredients, etc. I felt that the descriptions were too brief to be really useful but took up an awfully lot of pages. For anyone who has been reading "Gourmet" or other such magazines for a while, we've seen better writing in more depth with associate recipies we could try.

There was also an illustration section showing great photos of ingredients and describing their use. I guess I really wasn't looking for a page of apple photos, or onion photos, or rice photos, etc. etc.

This seems to be aimed as a text for professional chefs. That part is okay and it does do a good job of explaining techniques in detail and with good illustrations. However, most of the recipies are for 10 servings and the basic stocks, sauces, etc. all make a gallon.

I have a huge Sub-Zero freezer and I have five adult "children" still at home wolfing down meals. Even under my circumstances, this would be a bit much.

Frankly, I get more from my "Cook's Illustrated" magazine plus their on-line resources. Same depth, good explainations about how things work, reasonable portions, and associated recipies that I can actually use.
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on May 14, 2007
If you are a beginer cook, this book is perfect for you. It provides broad topics such as regional/international ingredients down to detailed recipes.

If you already have some cooking experience and are familiar with the basic ingredients in international dishes, a third of this book can be skipped. I bought this book mainly to improve my food preparation, organization, and cooking skills, however, I've found that information to these are just a notch or two more than what I already know.

If you are expecting to get lots of recipes for dishes that you know of but haven't tried, then there are plenty covered. For me, I already can use the internet, many celeb cook books that I have, and family/friends for recipes, so other than the basic recipes such as sauces, stocks, etc, this book would be last for me to reach for when I need a recipe for certain dishes.

The book is physically big and heavy. I don't exactly know how heavy but let's put it this way: it arrived with a nicked corner and broken delivery box. If use as a kitchen reference, you would want to find a kitchen counter spot for it to rest. The cover print is like sanded copper pots and looks great on my shelve.
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on August 19, 2010
This book cover from the very basic of cooking which is the ingredients, utensils and herbs. Although they presented vividly, their organization of the ingredients is pretty messy especially in vegetables and meat part (unless for someone who knows ingredients and looks for something new). The recipes was good but lack the essential recipes from the descriptions. For instance, the beef brisket/flank steak can be cook for London broil, but they did not tell anything about it which for me is very annoying. Although it contains a lot of recipes, this book lacks some of the traditional cooking like aglio e olio (although it seems easy, not many people can extract all the garlic flavor and fused it with olive oil), or opera cake which not many people know, but a classic french desserts. It also forgot to cover on how to clean fish properly (like an Asian style); they just presented by cutting the entire head and fillet it.

I give only 3 because 1 star for video - it is better to use video to explain on how to clean like fish/meat/etc, and 1 more star for basic information - as this book becomes a reference to any chef, it would be best to have all the basic nail down so that they can invent other variation recipes from the basics.

Advantage of this book: cover pretty a lot, but not complete basic skills and recipes. many pictures

disadvantage: Too many open space it will not be useful for comments or ideas; it is better for the recipes to be reorganize so that can put more basic recipes with quick instructions like "The best recipes" collection
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