- Hardcover: 672 pages
- Publisher: New Harvest; 1 edition (November 20, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547884591
- ISBN-13: 978-0547884592
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.9 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1,918 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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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.
-Buffet style learning. The book is intentionally written in discrete sections, and the author specifically advises that if you're a certain type of reader you may feel free to skip around and pick the bits you want. This is great. Too many self-help books are basically just a handful of points stretched out because you have to print so many pages before your publisher will call it a book. No such issue here- those five points will be a bullet list up front, and the author is perfectly fine if you want to skip the explanation portion of the chapter and get on with your day. Only read the intervening part if you want that insight.
-Holistic learning. The author realized a whole lot of skills in life can be learned essentially the same way, so the "chef" portion which teaches you cooking is meant to be an example of the overall technique. I'll even hand you the basics free of charge- it's the 80/20 principle. Basically, find the 20% of what you need to learn that will get you 80% of results. You don't need to memorize the whole dictionary to read this review- 20% of the dictionary will probably be plenty to read every word on this page. On top of that, sequence your cooking in a logical order so you learn that 20% in an efficient way. A great example is that if you want to learn to cook, one of the best ways is to start by making eggs (which are included toward the front of the cooking program). Eggs require a lot of skills. There's ingredient selection- you can't pick out cracked eggs. There's dexterity- cracking the shells and flipping the eggs. There's heat control and observation- you have to flip the eggs and move them around to prevent them from sticking or burning. Cook some eggs, and you'll efficiently learn half a dozen skills at once rather than slowly getting to them separately. It turns out a lot of skills- from language learning to three-point shooting in basketball, can be approached with these principles.
-Data-driven results. Tim Ferris made himself a guinea pig, and shows you what he did and the results of his learning. That's one proof these methods work. Tim generally also has his friends try the method, asks his readers to try it and report on results, and asks experts what they'd recommend or change. He takes all those inputs, and gives you the notes.
This is a bit of an odd book. It's not a cookbook, there are only a few recipes and they're dumbed down so that you can learn to cook. You may want to move on to the "real" recipes later. A great example is that his first recipe is "Osso 'Buko'", a dumbed-down version of Osso Buco. It tastes great, but it's meant to teach you cooking skills, the recipe itself is just a tool. Similarly, he shows you tips for memorizing lists of numbers or for learning a language. In each case, what he shows you is an example. One great example is that he shows you how to memorize a deck of cards, shuffled into any order, quickly. Not many of us are going to need that. But what if you could memorize a seating chart in a few minutes, so that you can know exactly where every single person in a company is seated after only a few minutes of review. Now that could be useful- no more guessing who's who in a new office.
Anyone with some familiarity with Buddhism or Zen is going to see the parallel, and why some people aren't taking to this book. As the parable goes, sometimes a teacher points toward something the teacher wants you to see, but the student instead focuses on the teacher's hand and thinks the pointing hand is the lesson. If you only look at the hand- like if you only look at the recipes in this book- you'll totally miss what you're supposed to see. Again, the real key is the 80/20 principle combined with sequencing. The whole book is an exercise in helping you spin up on those skills. Every example is an example of those learning skills, and it only happens to give you into a window of learning languages or starting a fire.
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