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The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hop Like a Pro (Almost) Paperback – September 30, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Just a typical Jewish law student who returned to New York to study playwriting, Roberts forsook torts and all things dramaturgical for tarts and all things culinary. In order to better share his discoveries and enthusiasms, he eventually launched a Web site—amateurgourmet.com—replete with recipes, marketing and cooking tips, restaurant reviews and overall winsomeness. Here, in 10 short essays, and with the same charming voice, he offers simple (perhaps even simplistic) lessons from his own journey out of fast food and microwave captivity to the Promised Land of Foodiedom. From basic tomato sauce to a feast for 10, he guides the way through a series of culinary adventures and exhorts the kitchen novice toward the same discoveries, surprises and challenges. This is not really a cookbook or a memoir so much as a kitchen travelogue or series of essays on culinary attitude adjustment, and Roberts has such lightness of spirit that even proficient gourmands may be tempted to seek again the stance of a rank beginner in order to experience anew a perfectly cooked tomato sauce or dinner for one in Paris. There are recipes, mostly cribbed from other cookbooks, but the book's primary feature is its delight in learning something new. (Aug. 28)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"The Amateur Gourmet is Adam Roberts' witty, engaging account of how he went from being a frozen-pizza-eating law student to a passionate home-cook and food writer. For anyone seeking to venture beyond toaster meals into the pleasurable world of sauteeing and braising, Roberts is the perfect guide." —Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors of The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

“If you think foodies take themselves too seriously, you'll love tagging along as Adam embarks with his friends on one challenge after another on the road to gourmet-hood. This is a funny, helpful companion for anyone who's ever felt intimidated by the world of fine food.”—Clotilde Dusoulier, author of Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen

"Adam Roberts is a delightful and compelling new voice in the food world. I'm a fan of his blog and am amazed to see how effortlessly and well his exuberant sense of food and cooking and the world translate to actual pages. What great company he is!"—Michael Ruhlman, author of Charcuterie and The Reach of a Chef

“Any one who's ever understood that eating well and living well go hand in hand will relish this tale of one man's personal food awakening. With humor and moxie, Roberts dives headfirst into the captivating world of food—from marketing to cooking to dining—to discover invaluable life lessons about appetite, culture, love and doing dishes. "—Molly Stevens, author of All About Braising

"Adam Roberts shares his step-by-step pursuit of becoming a true 'gourmet' with his inimitable wit and hard-won wisdom. From prepping pasta to dealing with the last dirty dish (and everything edible in between) follow Adam’s cleverly crafted journey from being an awkward amateur to a full-fledged culinary connoisseur." —David Lebovitz, author of The Perfect Scoop and The Great Book of Chocolate

“Adam's book is a knockout—great reading and great fun, packed with good ideas, even for an old time cook like myself. I love his failures and his triumphs. I love his good clear directions and his joy in discovering himself through food.” —Marsha Norman, playwright

“Sweet and smart and generously spirited, The Amateur Gourmet is a funny, honest gustatory coming of age saga. Like a lot of us who write about food, Adam Roberts discovered that the pleasures of the table and the kitchen really can save your soul.” —Ed Levine, founder of seriouseats.com

“Adam Roberts, the self-styled kitchen novice behind the popular blog amateurgourmet.com.... has become a sort of Rachael Ray for young foodie urbanites.”–Boston Globe

“Charming.... A kitchen travelogue.... The book’s primary feature is its delight in learning something new.”—Publishers Weekly


From the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553384562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553384567
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,297,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Hunter on January 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Adam's book is great for the high school or college student whose idea of cooking is a bowl of Ramen and a fancy feast is spaghetti with the expensive jar of sauce. If you see yourself in that caricature but want more, then you could benefit from this book. It's a great guide for those who are intimidated by fancy restaurants and trying to cook something "gourmet" that they've never thought of attempting before. The books messages of "don't take eating so seriously" and "yes, you're going to screw up, but it's not the end of the world" may help you get over your fear of your kitchen.

However, those people aren't the ones who are likely to buy Adam's book. His primary audience is bloggers and their readers. I like Adam's blog. It's entertaining, and sometimes even educational. However, I expect a book that purports to teach me to "Shop, Chop, and Table Hop like a Pro (Almost)" to be a little more educational and a little less anecdotal. Anecdotes are great for blog posts. They are ephemeral and quickly forgotten. Something that I'm going to pay for and place on my bookshelf should have lasting value, and that's not what I got from The Amateur Gourmet.
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Format: Hardcover
My first impression after reading Adam D. Roberts' new book The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hop Like a Pro (Almost) was not kind. Without getting into the details let us just say that I was unimpressed with its length and my ability to read it while multitasking just four times. At $25 its 216 pages of giant font did not spell value.

Had I liked it, I might point you to the fabulous chapter in which he attempted to get his friend to appreciate the glory of coffee and olives. His clever tactics to trick her into thinking they were, at the very least not-half-bad, would serve many of us well as we poke and prod our friends and relatives to try new things.

Or perhaps I would comment on Roberts' engaging sense of humor. More than any author I can recall his personality leaps from each page. Without actually having met him his openness regarding every facet of his life makes me feel as though I would probably know him better than members of my own family.

But, I did not like the book as I could not help but wonder why we needed it in the first place.

Adam D. Roberts' you see is a blogger. He is (go figure) The Amateur Gourmet. He has a large following of adoring fans in the online food community, and that was my issue with the book. I am one of those fans, and for those of us that read his blog each week, there is nothing dramatically different about this book than one of his longer posts. His personality which makes his web page such a success is obviously there, but do to the formality of a book, he loses a bit of the eccentricity that is the secret to his success.

This one time however, I will admit I was wrong.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Adam D. Roberts writes each chapter of The Amateur Gourmet in the form of a short story which reveals separate lessons in planning, creating, executing, sharing, and savoring a meal. The stories explain how Roberts overcame common anxieties that keep reluctant gourmets out of the kitchen and continuing to make reservations or microwave frozen dinners. While the book contains recipes and gives some instruction on shopping for and creating the suggested dishes, I found that the most important lesson was one of encouragement to take on new challenges that bring excitement into your life.

Roberts made me understand how the culinary experience - at each stage from the selection of ingredients to cleaning your plate - enhances life by encouraging an open mind, knowledge of oneself, a healthy affinity for risk taking, and a passion for your work. I will have to go elsewhere for step-by-step cooking instructions, but this book was a welcome introduction to "good eating and good living."

If you enjoy this book, I would also recommend Keith Ferrazzi's Never Eat Alone, which is about personal and professional networking and not about cooking. However, the chapters also read like short stories, the lessons stay with you, and both books encourage immediate action by exciting the reader with possibilities for the future.
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Format: Hardcover
Roberts, like an increasingly large number of young authors today, keeps a blog about his experiences in learning to cook. The book is composed of pieces taken and expanded upon from the blog.

It's not a bad book, given that it is one man's attempts at becoming an amateur gourmet. It's not the end-all of books about learning to cook and shouldn't be read with that expectation. It was a gentle little read, but nothing more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The other 3 star reviews here capture the 'view' I hold of the book...but to be fair I am an industry professional (worked as cook, chef, management, restaurants, catering...) so I was looking more for entertainment value, but the blog is more entertaining and that is free.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not quite what I expected but enjoyed it very much. There are a few recipes in this book(wish there were more) and the stories are well written to illustrate the circumstances surrounding the recipes. The author made me laugh out loud several times! A little heavy-handed on the homosexual love affair between the author and boyfriend, just not interested in that. I would definitely recommend this book. It is not a cookbook so don't buy it thinking that it is. The recipes almost seem like an afterthought. Mr. Roberts, I think you should write a real cookbook!
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