Customer Reviews: The Professional Chef
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on January 12, 2013
I think this is a wonderful book if you understand that this is foremost a textbook written for culinary arts students not for the consumer market. The quantities tend to be large, it's assumed you have access to a fully stocked kitchen, and some of the techniques only make sense if you are cooking in quantity. For example, baking recipes (and others) call for egg quantities by weight not by number of eggs. This makes sense if you are cracking 20 eggs since the degree of variability between two random groups of 20 large eggs can be enough to compromise a recipe. For a home baker, however, it is easier to list measurements of eggs by quantity--personally, I'd rather be a little off then use 1 and 1/8 of an egg. Still, its review of equipment, basic techniques, and core recipes are well worth the price of the book even if you never have the need to make a gallon of blue cheese dressing.
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on October 3, 2011
What better way to learn a subject then to take a class and buy the associated text. Not being able to quit my job and relocate to attend the CIA, I figured I would see if I could learn from their text.

The book is laid out with easy to read and understand explanations of techniques and fundamentals. If you are looking for a recipe book to lay out on the counter and start cooking this isn't the best for that--this thing is huge!!!

My main goal in purchase was to learn more about sauces and terminology and it delivered beyond expectations. The recipes are normally for 10 servings or more -- which is perfect because when I cook there is hardly ever less than 10 people that come over to eat with us. Neighbors & friends came over for three different dishes prepared from this book and absolutely loved the food & each one of them commented on how great the two different sauces were, both of which I learned to create from the book... so success in my heart, mind and especially my stomach!!!
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on July 8, 2015
I am a self-taught home chef. Despite learning much on my own over the years, I wanted slightly more information on technique and skill than can often be seen in cooking videos and TV shows. In comes "The Professional Chef" by the Culinary Institute of America, or CIA.

Since this book also serves as the CIA's text book, be warned, it is 1200 pages long. It is heavy and you'll definitely get a work out carrying it around. That aside, it is a stunningly beautiful book. It is filled with pages of incredibly useful information, such as various cooking methods, different proteins and their cuts, how to identify grains and spices, how to cook what, and so much more - really, everything you need to know. There are gorgeous illustrations to go along with the charts given, which makes it very easy to follow along and keep it all straight. Additionally, the back half of the book gives you recipe after recipe on basics all the way to complicated dishes. Keep in mind, since this is a text book, the recipes are scaled for 10 servings or more. So, if you are using this to cook for large parties, it's GREAT. If you don't need to cook for more than yourself and one other person, be prepared to learn how to scale down (learning is never a bad thing).

I absolutely love this book and can't recommend it enough. Considering the amount of information and the size of the book, the price really can't be beat. Perfect for the chef-in-training or someone, like me, just looking to hone and enhance their knowledge.
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on June 28, 2012
This massive book is one of the most useful I've found. It is not a cookbook per se, but it has a lot of recipes to be sure. Organized like a textbook, it presents different families of ingredients, then within the families presents techniques for different types of dishes, followed by a number of dishes of that type with the steps to produce them. It's an excellent way to organize things in my opinion. The recipes themselves I expected to draw on mostly classic or nouvelle French, but I was pleasantly surprised to find many types of food represented in the recipes. Bravo!

My only reservation about the book is that I find the index a little cumbersome, and a book this large needs a top notch index (quick- find the black beans and chorizo recipe... no, it's not under beans, no sir; it's under black beans, thank you).

You can eventually find what you're looking for, though, and although in a particular style you may be able to find a better or more complicated recipe in a book dedicated to that style, the Italian, Indian, and Mexican recipe in this book are fairly consistent with traditional dishes. The techniques are not necessarily traditional, of course, since the book is aimed at a professional cook in a modern kitchen, so you may have a recipe for a dish using tortillas, but you won't have a discussion of the flours to use in the tortillas or cooking them on a comal.

I think my favorite attribute of the book is the organization, still. By focusing on the technique for a style of cooking first, then presenting recipes, it leaves you the choice of using the recipes or taking the technique you've learned and applying it to another creation. I personally don't memorize recipes, so having more information about a technique can be more valuable to me when I have a full pantry, a dinner to serve, and an inclination to get creative. When I just want to crank out dinner, on the other hand, I can go browsing some recipes and see what I would like to serve (with the above caveat about the index).

I guess I think it's a win both ways. I'm glad I bought it, but I'd be more glad if it weren't so darn heavy.
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on September 13, 2011
The ninth edition of The Professional Chef is an amazing compendium of information. Although the title includes the word professional, this is just the type of book that can inspire even novices to be a little more adventuresome in the kitchen.
The book's layout makes the information easy to access and directions easy to follow, with plenty of gorgeous color photography to support the copy.
Whether or not the reader ever attempts the wide array of recipes presented(most of which serve at least a dozen people by the way), The Professional Chef is what we call an "armchair cookbook" that gives enjoyment and pleasure just browsing through it on a rainy night with a glass of port in hand.
At a little over 1200 pages, The Professional Chef does an admirable job of covering all the basics and then some when it comes to working the kitchen, professionally or just for pleasure.
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on December 6, 2014
I love this book! I love the referenced page number on every technique. No matter how far along I am in the book, if I can't quite remember the technique, the page number is right next to the technique mentioned. For home cook, this book saves me a lot of time going through the indexes to refresh my memory. For those who are up in age, retention of newly learned information and learning new skill is slower; and, for students who have hectic life schedule, the referenced page number is a tremendous time saver!!!!!! Furthermore, there are many 'expert tips' offered. And most importantly, it teaches basic ingredients ratio which helps me understand better the underlying crafts of cooking and basic baking. The 'method at a glance' helps me organize and retain new information efficiently. I cannot say enough how much I love this book!!!! My one suggestion is: it would help a lot to show how to pronounce the many French techniques and dishes mentioned. LOVE THIS TEXTBOOK!!!!!
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on May 9, 2012
Weighing seven pounds and six ounces, is the new edition of "The Professional Chef" a heavyweight worthy of shelf space? Should a person buy it if he has the revised editions of everything from Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" to "Larousse Gastronomique"? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. To a casual cook, the sheer volume of material can be daunting. Yet, to any reader with dreams of becoming a professional, this book is an excellent start on the path of culinary greatness.

Students and restaurateurs should consider investing in this tome. The beautiful photos serve as a visual reference to almost all available ingredients in North America and as a refresher course on techniques. Indeed, reading through this book reminded this reviewer of her grueling months in culinary school. Methods for fundamental recipes are described both in detail and in "at a glance" sections, making the book easy to use no matter how much time you have.

A casual cook may be surprised by some of the proportions. Like other cookbooks designed for professionals, recipes (like for soups and salad dressings) are meant to supply a banquet. Happily, a lot of the entrees can serve ten to twelve people. While it's too heavy to bring along on a daily commute or to even read in bed, "The Professional Chef" is an essential manual for aspiring and experienced cooks. It's time to make space on the shelf.

(This review originally appeared in the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Reviews.)
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on February 18, 2015
I'm not a professional chef. Hell, you're probably not either. In fact, neither of us could keep up with the demand and scaling required to put out great, consistent, hot food in a restaurant. But, we think we can and, we probably have friends and loved ones that tell us we're amazing chefs.

So, buy this book. Read it. It's a text book, remember that. Learn that a roux becomes a bechamel after adding milk and that once you add cheese it's a mornay unless it's cheddar then it's a cheddar sauce. After you do that, pour that cheddar sauce over freshly cooked macaroni noodles and have mac & cheese from scratch and get rid of the box. Then, read further to understand stocks, meat cuts, get some recipes and pretend you're a chef.

This book has everything you need to be your own celebrity in your kitchen without having to turn the TV on. Read it. Practice. Make the food.
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on April 25, 2015
Cooking is a life skill, and I'm a pig with expensive tastes. For Christmas 2014 I asked my parents for this book, and one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2015 is to read this. Today I got to page 530 and noticed a change in my life, so I felt it was time to write a review.

First I went to Ralph's with my dad, and I looked at the fancy cheeses with a greater perspective. Then, on my way to Costco I saw a fancy Asian restaurant, but it didn't look as powerful to me because it no longer had the power to give me something I couldn't get elsewhere. The book had transferred this power to me. I'll never look at restaurants the same way again. And in Costco, I looked at the cuts of meat differently, both in terms of the differences between grades, and in terms of all the possibilities I had with them. I suddenly knew about the fabrication of those huge loins. When I saw trout, they didn't just look like fish anymore. I had read several dishes to make with the trout. And the roasts looked different to me, too. I knew all sorts of new things to do with those. And the lobster that I saw is probably in the next chapter. So, I'll never look at grocery store food items the same way again.

So this book changes your life, and serves as a foundation for growth and more advanced culinary skills in the future. I love it and I totally recommend it. This, along with Escoffier's Culinary Guide, is a must-have for the home chef.
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on May 17, 2014
I'm sure that the description says it for chefs or chef wannabees, but I bought it anyway because I wanted to know what the chefs know. It really is for professionals only - the portion sizes are large, there is instruction on running restaurants, etc. It's a great book, really, but it's more than I need.
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