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Kitchen on Fire!: Mastering the Art of Cooking in 12 Weeks (or Less) Hardcover – November 22, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Publishers Weekly, 11/7/11
“Said and MikeC…have extensive West Coast culinary credits, a strong visual sensibility and an impressive knowledge of the science behind their art…A step-by-step guide for those who learn best by reading, and safe harbor for those who prefer not to be taught knife skills in person…A fascinating section on cooking chemistry explores everything from the polarity of water to the properties of starch.”

Library Journal, 11/15/11
“A book meant to free home cooks from rote recipe following by imparting the essentials of cooking technique and science. Individual chapters are packed with pictorial instructions, easy-to-read text, and exercises or recipes that readers can use to test their skills. This is a streamlined crash course for novices.”

BizIndia.net, 12/12/11
“If you want to equip yourself with the right knowledge, skills and most important of all, the techniques to cook creatively, this is the book you need.”
Technorati.com, 12/16/11
“Self-taught cooks and those who follow only family recipes will benefit from Kitchen on Fire!...In addition to perfecting techniques, home cooks will learn the essentials of improvisation…Kitchen on Fire! is not designed to make non-cooks into cooks, or cooks into better cooks; its aim is to supply the information that will help home cooks evolve into home chefs.”
EatDrinkBetter.com, 12/15/11
 “Can give a beginning cook confidence in the kitchen…Twelve chapters cover every basic topic a cook needs to know…If the CSA box includes some weird veggie you’ve never eaten, just knowing the techniques in this book will provide enough information to make a delicious dish. I recommend Kitchen on Fire for beginning cooks, but also for more experienced cooks who want to broaden their kitchen repertoire and break free of recipes.”
The Hippo 12/15 issue
“[A] good place for a beginning cook to start.”
Forme of Curry blog
“I get asked, periodically, to recommend books for people who want to learn how to cook. There are three sources I always list: anything by James Peterson (especially Cooking), any of the the three Alton Brown Good Eats books, and the CIA textbook (The Professional Chef). And, now, with this release, I have another book to add to the list. Kitchen on Fire! is incredibly clear and incredibly thorough; certainly the next best thing to a culinary school class.”
Bookviews, January 2012
“A good book for the new bride or anyone who has not learned the fundamentals of cooking. This is a great way to become a master chef in the comfort of one’s own home.”
Infodad.com, 1/12/12
“Olivier Said and his coauthor treat readers to many tricks of the professional chef’s trade, presented with clarity and with exceptionally useful photographs that show just what to do and just how food should look during various preparations…There is pretty much everything here, from information on types of knives and how to use them to the specifics of all sorts of cooking techniques: searing, stir-frying, stewing, braising, roasting, broiling, grilling and more…Whether you want to work as a chef or just be a better cook at home, a very good place to learn is Kitchen on Fire!
LeslieLovesVeggies.net, 1/12/12
“This must have kitchen ‘bible’ is loaded with over 1,000 color photos and illustrations and includes tips, tricks and techniques to make every cooking skill a bit easier!...Learning to cook can seem like a daunting challenge but Chefs MikeC. and Olivier have broken it down chapter by chapter and made it fun and interesting!”

Portland Press Herald, 2/1/12
“If you're one of those home cooks who's tired of being a slave to recipes but you can't afford the money or time to go to culinary school, pick up a copy of Kitchen on Fire!

Taste for Life, February 2012
“Become a master of the hearth with Kitchen on Fire! Chefs Olivier Said and MikeC. take you through the bootcamp experience of professional culinary school (without the cost or commitment)…[It] will help you learn the fundamentals of cooking in a fun and digestible (pun intended!) way.”
Oakland Tribune, 2/15/12
“A book that is rich in technique.”
Midwest Book Review, February 2012
“Step-by-step color photos throughout, measurement conversion charts, tools, and more make this an 'all-in-one' home course for any aspiring to better cooking!”
Sand and Succotash, 3/4/12
“An easy to follow 'cooking class' in your own home…The many illustrations and charts throughout the book give a great understanding of how and why different ingredients interact with one another…I have over 300 cookbooks and books on ingredients in my home library, ranging from professional texts and specialty produce to old-fashioned regional fare, but few do as good a job of tackling the basics of cooking in such a well-photographed and well-illustrated manner.”
Deseret News, 3/14/12
“If you have ever wanted to attend culinary school and never been able to, chefs Oliver Said and MikeC. may have what you've been looking for…Great photos throughout…Everything is technically right and well-presented.”
Blogcritics.org, 3/20/12
“A cooking school all rolled into one book…This book goes far beyond the basics of cooking and really gives you a firm grasp of what you need to know…There’s a really nice selection of recipes included as chapter exercises…This is a great resource for not only the beginning cook but for the person who knows how to cook but wants to expand into areas she may not already be familiar with.”
Tucson Citizen, 3/20/12
“The 500 step-by-step photos are the next best thing to having Chefs Olivier Said and MikeC standing beside you in the home kitchen. Just knowing kitchen tools and what their purpose are is almost in itself worth the price of this excellent cookbook…If used properly, it will make a good cook an even greater one.”
Portland Book Review, March/April Issue
“Give[s] home cooks a ‘boot camp’ version of professional cooking classes…A wonderful, comprehensive resource…A must-have for any kitchen.”
San Francisco Chronicle, 4/22
“A useful tool for anyone anxious to brush up on, or learn, kitchen skills.”
Fine Cheese & Charcuterie, March/April 2012
“No ordinary cookbook…Designed to teach the reader how to cook, something that can’t necessary be said of a lot of other cookbooks…There is just the right amount of text to accompany the 500 step-by-step photos…A wonderful book that is fun and interesting at the same time.”
Carmelized OpiNIONS
“Super informative and well illustrated.”
Living Without, June/July 2012
“A full course of cooking school crammed between two covers. Superbly thought out and organized.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 7/11/12
“An instruction manual to the culinary arts…Covers a range of topics…Numerous line drawings illustrate useful concepts for the home cook…The authors clearly have a passion and knack for communicating what they know to a general audience. The light, irreverent tone of the book is a nice touch, too…Highly recommended for anyone who wants to become a better cook and learn just how the professionals do it.”

Read It & Eat, May 2013
“Think like a professional chef after 12 weeks. Every chapter covers the hows and whys to understand some basic cooking principals and techniques.”

About the Author

Chef Olivier Said is one of the most respected culinary personalities in the Bay Area, where he is the former co-owner of César Tapas Bar and author of their award-winning cookbook.

Chef MikeC. is an honors graduate from the California Culinary Academy and was the most recent host of the long-running TV series Organic Living with the Hippy Gourmet. They are co-founders of Kitchen on Fire! culinary school in Berkeley, California. Visit: KitchenOnFire.com


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738214531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738214535
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not much new for me in this book, unfortunately, and heavy stress on equipment rather than technique. I feel that knife skills are overstressed and that a book is probably not the best source of useful ways to improve them.
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Format: Hardcover
Kitchen on Fire is a large volume on teaching home cooks how to cook in 12 weeks. It could've been a very good book but has major flaws. Basically it goes through the entire repertoire of cooking from knife skill to cooking methods, from scrambled eggs to soufflé, and thumbnail photos illustrate everything in detail. An experienced home cook can probably follow these but a novice could not. Illustrations on techniques can never replace live demonstrations on many processes (such as making pie dough). It feels that Said and MikeC are talking to professionals in their terminology and style. Again, a beginner would quit the course the first week. The major flaw, however, is the book's organization. Obviously someone made a mistake. Little red numbers scattered throughout the text (very distracting) are referring to chapters where the reader can look up information (why would anyone need to look up rubber spatula?). But the book has no chapters, only sections such as Week 1, Week 2, etc. To find an item like stir-frying, one needs to page through the section (a simple page reference would've solved this confusion). The organization is very unfriendly. Index is brief and inadequate.
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Format: Hardcover
This is not really a cookbook, but a book that teaches techniques. There is a good introduction for those addicted to recipes, but not knowing techniques... what to do if an ingredient is missing - to be able to prepare food from scratch using seasonal produce. This will give beginning and experienced cooks more skill in preparing their food and know how in their kitchens.

This is a book that takes one along the 12 week `boot camp' for cooking. Included are: knife skills and mise en place, sautéing, stir fry and searing, stocks, soups, and poaching, frying and confit, stewing, braising and steaming, sauces, dips and condiments,roasting and broiling, grilling, yeast breads, quick breads and butters, starches, grains, and pasta, eggs. A few recipes are included in the lesson steps.
There are cross references placed in the text to refer back to chapters - it would have been better to have page numbers rather than chapter numbers, or else tab colour the edges so that it is easier to find. The illustrations are good, but a bit small. Steps are illustrated along the way. There are good instructions, the knife safety and use guidelines are among the best I have seen.
Lessons on the basic science of cooking are included as well as information about cooking ingredients diagrams on cuts of meat, types of seafood, kitchen tools needed, metric conversions and an index that also includes the recipes.

There are really good instructions here, in how to become a better cook and probably some information to learn from even if you are a more experienced cook.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is really an excellent book. Rather than focus on recipes, the authors encourage you to experiment with flavors after learning the core techniques of cooking. The "12 Weeks" thing is kind of an inaccurate statement, because I learned a few things I was able to use in under an hour.

If you're looking for a book of recipes, look elsewhere. There are some recipes in this book, but it largely focuses on teaching you how to properly cook a meal. It's fairly obvious that we, as a culture, are obsessed with recipes. This leads to limited creativity in our kitchens, bland or unsatisfying meals, and subsequently fast food. This book can help reverse that trend. Cooking a great meal involves more than just following a set of instructions that tell you how much of what goes into the pan. It involves some finesse that requires you to learn some basic skills.

Things you'll learn:

How to properly hold knives
Proper nomenclature for kitchen tools and how to choose them
Proper nomenclature for types of cuts used and when to implement them
The science that's happening in your kitchen and how to harness it
How to make various breads

How to construct your own recipes
- Soups
- Sauces, Condiments, and Dips

Techniques and uses for
- Stir frying
- Grilling
- Stewing
- Braising
- Steaming
... And much, much more.

I found this book in my local library and liked it so much that I felt it needed to be on my book shelf along with my favorite cook books. I turn to this one most often because I know I'll always learn something new. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to improve their cooking skills and not just expand the number of recipes on hand that they'll never use.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not a lot of recipes, but tons of advice on how to cook. I took a Kitchen on Fire class, loved it, and bought the book. An excellent resource, though it requires actually studying the theory of cooking rather than just following a recipe. Not that I haven't tried the recipes in the book -- they are excellent and easy to follow.
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