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Mastering Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Tools in Your Kitchen (with DVD) Hardcover – May 1, 2008
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About the Author
Mark Thomas is a NewYorkbased photographer specializing in food, lifestyle, and travel photography. His work has appeared in Stewart Tabori and Chang’s Opera Lover’s Cookbook and Endangered Recipes, and he recently completed four books for Williams-Sonoma. Thomas’s work also appears regularly in Bon Appétit.
Top Customer Reviews
For someone who is relatively new to the kitchen, and beginning to work more with an increasing variety of produce, this book is an excellent start.
For starters, the photographs are top notch. Not only are they in beautiful colour and spaciously laid out, but the appropriate (and necessary) steps are photographed, which is not always the case.
Even when describing multiple cutting techniques for one single product (e.g. onions, tomatoes), every technique is comfortably laid out over a series of pages, rather than rushed into a more cramped, difficult to read format over fewer pages.
The video is well produced, and although I wish I could have seen EVERY technique demonstrated, I understand why it would have been impossible to do so. Techniques I have found myself using frequently are the ones he demonstrates. The two I also found most useful are the video on fabricating chicken (no matter how many pictures I look at from a large number of different books, there is no substitute for seeing someone actually doing it), and carving a chicken (which is not described in his book).
As you can tell, if all of these techniques sound like "Mickey Mouse" endeavours to you, then this book is certainly NOT for you. But if the simple task of carving up a chicken and properly dicing an onion has always eluded you, then this book will not only teach you that in magnificent fashion, but so many other skills you didn't know you needed but definitely will.Read more ›
This book fills a real gap in the field of cook-bookery. I, a serious amateur cook, have been cooking for over forty years now, and yet, in forty years of watching television cooking shows and reading cookbooks (of which I own some thirty), I have never before seen any teacher or TV chef relate - really relate in any serious and systematic, way - to this most important of all our cooking tools, at least not until the present illuminating book.
One could be forgiven for expecting such a book to offer mere dry factual knowledge on the subject, but in fact it is excitingly written and lavishly illustrated, and Weinstein's style has a flow and a sweep that pull the reader along from page to page, like a good detective novel, from slicing through dicing, to mincing to filleting to fabricating - yes, fabricating - a chicken. The accompanying DVD, furthermore, is graphic and extremely well presented.
I have seen Norman Weinstein in the classroom. He is an inspiring teacher, who wears his prodigious erudition lightly, and enlivens his classes with a quick and warm sense of humor. That same encyclopedic knowledge, sympathy and warmth come across in his book as well.
And one last note: following Weinstein's instructions I sat down for an hour with a sharpening stone and sharpened all my knives to an edge the like of which I have not ever gotten from the "professionals".
While this may not be the only cookbook you will ever want, it certainly is the only knife book you will ever need.
What it gets right is basic, European knife cuts. Mr. Weinstein is a good teacher, and his descriptions and pictures are clear and well presented.
The section on buying knives, however, is outdated. A book written twenty years ago would have practically the same information, even though the world of knives available to Western cooks has expanded and evolved enormously since then. Mr. Weinstein mentions Japanese knives in passing, but doesn't give any sense that he's actually used them. This is unfortunate, since so many Western cooks have started using Japanese knives for much or all of their work. Much of the old information that Weinstein gives doesn't apply to these knives, and what little little he does say about them is questionable.
His section on sharpening isn't bad. He knows more about sharpening than most cooks, but unfortunately this isn't saying much. And sharpening is an area where a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I belive that any serious cook should know how to sharpen their knives, but they need to be given a solid background in the subject in order to avoid wrecking them. I'm not sure Weinstein's book gives quite enough.
The book does a good job teaching the most basic cutting techniques, but even here it seems a little dated. Since Weinstein's experience is with fairly old fashioned (not very sharp) knives, the techniqes he shows are built on the assumption that you'll be using similar knives as well. So even though he talks up the idea of using a relaxed grip, he demonstrates cutting with a much firmer grip than what you'd use with a sharp knife.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The information here is very dated but basically solid. His dismissal of Japanese knives as "high maintenance" is downright bizarre--as with Western knives, some are and... Read morePublished 3 days ago by urbanito
I like the book; simple, to the point instructions on what is required to maintain and how to select and properly use knives. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Richard G.
Great reference book for knife skills and knowledge. Awesome for kitchen beginners and home cooks as well!Published 8 months ago by Jingle Dingles
Excellent book. Amazingly interesting for a technical book. Great for home cooks.Published 11 months ago by bg from Baltimore
Very informative strictly what you need to know about culinary cutlery psrticularly what you really need to invest your hard earned money on & what is nonsense! Read morePublished 16 months ago by Tim D. Pettigrew
Invaluable lessons. Made my cooking enjoyable and easier. A keeper and Christmas gifts to my family.Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer