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"I was moved by the book -- a good step up from enjoying it, although I did that too." John Thorne, James Beard Award-winning author of Outlaw Cook and Pot on the Fire
About the Author
Internationally published restaurant critic and journalist, S.J. Sebellin-Ross has written for newspapers, magazines, and websites including The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Toronto Star, Parenting, CNET, and The New York Times. She has reviewed James Beard award-winning restaurants, been translated into more than 37 languages, and has been invited to speak at events including The Association of Journalists and the BlogHer Food Conference.
A top-selling author, Sebellin-Ross (sebellin-ross.com) has written more than 10 books including Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood, the bestselling memoir of her time as a culinary school student, and How to Write about Food: How to Become a Published Restaurant Critic, Food Journalist, Cookbook Author, and Food Blogger, the must-read guide to breaking in and making money as a published food writer.
To see all the popular Sebellin-Ross titles, click the author name, above.
I enjoy cooking as well as reading about it, watching cooking shows, and reading cookbooks. (Actually, I'd probably rather do the latter 3 than the former, but I do enjoy cooking when I get started.) So when this book popped up on the free list, I grabbed it, and I'm overall glad I did.
The author's comments about culinary schools in general seemed on target; I work in an industry that deals with similar issues of "enroll them all and take their money" and graduates who are at least not thoroughly prepared.
The quotes at the beginning of the chapters often made me laugh. I was a little bit uncomfortable with the narrator. She seemed to go to some effort to point out how much better she was than her classmates in terms of her attitude, her helpfulness, and her cooking skills.
Overall, the book's content was handled well, meaning it kept my interest and I was not tempted to either skip or abandon the book. Two exams were included with the answers after them and they were an absolute pain to deal with on the Kindle. By the time I got to the answers, I'd forgotten the questions. I would have appreciated having a couple of examples of questions with the answers immediately following, but having the whole exam didn't add anything to the experience for me.
The recipe and instructions for the stout brulee appeared twice in my copy, and Bourdain's quote from "Medium Raw" also appeared twice in slightly different ways.
Technically speaking, I winced a little bit when the author commented that she wanted to take a red pen to one of her textbooks. This book was hard to read in some ways, which is the main reason for the 4 stars from me. The tense frequently alternated between present and past. A person "has...delicate porcelain coloring" but "dyed her hair." A food mill "that had to be assembled just so or it won't work." The narrator says "I grab the streetcar and was home an hour later."
Punctuation, particularly possessives, was inconsistent. "Yes chef" versus "Yes, chef" (both were used inconsistently); "chef's jacket" versus "chefs jacket." Spelling and grammar issues were also common: "died her hair," "pairing knife," "desert plates," "panty cooks," "the chef instructor choose to teach," "trick was to keep you hand."
All in all, I enjoyed reading it and thought it was an interesting perspective.
This was a good look into the world of culinary school, warts and all. As she is a journalist, I wished the author had done even more research into how typical the smallish percentage of cooking vs lecture and cleaning were in this particular school compared to others. Do all schools just teach technique, or do others teach why, and do they teach creative techniques and how to develop recipes? It also seemed like she was the only one who was a very good student or really loved cooking. I kept thinking that her being older than the others, and experienced in the work world, changed her perspective greatly. How aware was she of how much this affected her experience?
I totally enjoyed this culinary school expose. I have been a foodie for years and I finally signed up for the baking program at culinary school 4 years ago so I know this book is a good mirror on what culinary school is like. This book was written by a culinary school student and the chefs in it could have been taken right out of my school. Some of the book was very funny especially the student who cut up the jalapeno and got this oil in a private place and how that turned out, and some was very sad like how some of the chefs treated a lot of the students. But all of it was a good read. If youre not into food than this might not be for you but if you are a foodie or if you like good restaurants or if you want to go to culinary school or take baking then this is a book you must read right away.
Have not quite finished this one. I've read several accounts of attending culinary school - mostly from those who attended CIA or other top-rated schools. While she doesn't say the name of this school, it appears the author attended 'Bob's Cooking School'. The instructors say incredibly inappropriate things, ignore students to pursue their own passions and seem to have forgotten the reasons they became chefs themselves. The school allows for 'punishment' of students by making them miss instruction and/or cooking time for coming in last in competitions and making them clean the kitchen baseboards or the floor of the walk-ins. I hope the author had the opportunity to attend a better school as she is clearly motivated to be a chef and didn't deserve the treatment and instruction delivered by this uninspiring school of cookery.