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The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life Hardcover – Print, November 20, 2012
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About the Author
Tim Ferriss is author of the #1 New York Times best sellers The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body. He’s been called “The Superman of Silicon Valley” by Wired, one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People” and “the world’s best guinea pig” by Newsweek, which ranked him in its top 10 “most powerful” personalities on the 2012 Digital 100 Power Index. He is an adviser and faculty member at Singularity University, based at NASA Ames Research Center, which focuses on leveraging accelerating technologies to address global problems. Tim’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, The Economist, and The New Yorker, among many others.
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Top Customer Reviews
Second disclaimer: I am NOT a Tim worshiper. The 4-Hour Workweek is a sometimes unethical pipe dream that a couple people writers imitating Tim have made money on. For most of us, it contains a couple tricks to be more efficient at our 9-5. The 4-Hour Body is a relatively interesting and fun book on fitness and diet experimentation. I learned a few tips and tricks from it and really enjoyed reading about his experiences. I have read most of Tim's blog and consider it a sometimes better alternative to "Life Hacker".
Those two disclaimers being said, this is a GREAT book if you come in with the right expectations. If you're looking for 600+ pages solely devoted to grocery shopping, prep, recipes, cooking and eating, you will not find it here. You'll find about 200-250 pages dedicated solely to such, and 200 more at least somewhat related--consisting of wilderness cooking and survival, great restaurants, 140 character recipes, and basic tools you need in the kitchen. At a macro level, the most useful cooking lessons are Tim's notes on equipment to have in your kitchen, his 10 easy recipes (most of which are really interesting/easy shortcuts), and the charts on spices that go with different countries. At a micro level, I picked up a few random tidbits from the 1/2-pagers on how to quickly defrost a steak, how to make the perfect cup of coffee, etc. The most important part of this section is that Tim teaches you HOW to cook, not just how to follow a recipe. The best part about his methodology is that he removes all roadblocks from the reader--the excessively expensive equipment, the hard to find ingredients, and the difficult cooking techniques are all put nicely out of mind with shortcuts and detailed pictures.
The rest of the book, in my opinion, is actually more interesting. The first section is about a hundred pages are worth the price of admission alone. It details a method to learn anything efficiently--Tim is merely using cooking as a MEDIUM to teach this method. I've started applying this first section to learning a number of skills already. As the middle sections are the ones devoted to cooking and wilderness survival that I detailed above, the appendix is related to random skills and interesting "life hacks" that you can learn quickly. Yes, these feel like last-minute additions but if one thing is clear Tim actually cares about his readers, why not throw in these interesting pages--they do not detract from the focus as they are part of the appendix.
If I can say one thing--buy this book. For me, I can see myself going back to it for years anytime I'd like to learn a new skill (be it with cooking or otherwise). If you want to learn HOW to cook taught in an unpretentious tone with easy to follow pictures, you'll find it here. If you're interested in shortcuts to learning complex skills, you'll find it here. If you just want to pick up a few cooking shortcuts, you will most definitely be delighted with this book. And lastly, if you are a fan of Tim and his other works, absolutely buy this book.
Lastly, a note on format, BUY THE HARDCOVER. I bought the Kindle as well since it was on sale for just $4.99 on Amazon and it does not even come close to comparing to the hardcover version. This book is meant to have pages cut out and marked up, its detailed color pictures to be seen, etc.
The first part is a clever "learn how to learn." It's not exactly scientific in nature, and the presentation of concepts sometimes feels out-of-sequence such that it begins to read more like a magazine than a useable guide. For me, subjectively, this actually added to my enjoyment rather than detracted. I stayed curious and intrigued while reading this topic (metalearning) that COULD have been REALLY boring!
I'm writing this review 4 years after having read the book and can tell you that I STILL use some of the elements taught in the metalearning portion of this book.
The second part of the book is merely an example of "how to learn," with cooking chosen as the example skill. Really, he could have used any skill as an example (Gun shooting, archery, swimming, you name it). I personally don't enjoy cooking and so I didn't read this part of the book. However, my girlfriend has, recently, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
In conclusion, if you're looking for a truly trustworthy culinary guide, I can't promise anything. If you're familiar with Tim Ferris and hoping for an enlightening read with new concepts, then I AM promising everything!
I appreciate why the book was so long since it includes a lot of "how-to" with recipes and other nitty-gritty information about food including how things are made (i.e. the process in which balsamic vinegar is made, how to kill a chicken, etc.). But, quite honestly, I didn't buy the book to learn how to cook. I hate cooking and I still do.
What I did like about this book would be about the first 100 pages or so that teaches you how to learn anything at super fast speed. This includes languages, dancing, cooking, or anything else you want to learn...and fast. Tim is the first one I've ever seen to illustrate that you not need to have 10,000 hours of practice to become good at or an expert in almost anything provided that you understand how the "crash course" methodology works and Tim puts methodology together for you.
And he explains it quite well.
What I wish he would have done was split this into 2 books where he could teach people how to cook in one book and teach people "how to learn anything in 6 weeks or less" in another book. I would have bought the 2nd book and not bothered with the cooking book at all. It seems that the cooking part actually got in the way. Just when he was getting into the swing of things with how to learn something at a super fast speed, he'd throw some cooking crap in there and I'd have to find myself skimming through it just to continue on with what he was talking about with learning faster.
I really did like his 2 principles of learning fast which are:
1) Failure points - addressing the tripping points and how to work to eliminate/overcome them. These are the points in which people give up on any endeavor because it's too hard, complicated, etc.
2) Margin of safety - picking the most important elements of whatever you're trying to do and making sure that if you choose well, even if your execution is off, you'll still be successful. He illustrates this by having you choose recipes well so that if you fail to make it even near perfect, the result will still be awesome.
He also makes it clear that if you are going to become successful in anything, you have to give yourself an ultimatum of sorts. If you fail, what are the consequences? People who have no consequences for not meeting their goals usually don't meet their goals.
He has some pretty awesome points on success that I've never read in any other type of book before, and I read a lot of success books.
For that reason, I recommend this book. Even if you have no interest in cooking, read the book anyway for the first 1/4 of it where you can really learn how to change your life through learning and becoming successful at anything you want to in the shortest amount of time imaginable.