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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.
I compared this book to two others, but picked this one for the following reasons:
- Knife Skills Illustrated: A User's Manual (Hertzmann) - I just enjoyed the photographs and simpler, more concise and comfortable layout better in Weinstein's book.
- Knife Skills: In the Kitchen (Trotter) - lots of big names attached to this book, the pictures are stellar, and the smaller size of the book actually was more appealing to me, as the Weinstein book is a bit on the large side, especially once you open it up and want to lay it down on the kitchen counter as you work. However, Weinstein is a professional instructor, and I found that his ability to teach (which is what you want out of this book, not the ability to concoct earth shattering recipes - which this leads to, hopefully!) really shines.
Plus, the Trotter book did not break down each product into its own section in as much detail, and the smaller format, although appearing easier to handle, did not allow for the more spacious, comfortable, and easier to read layout (especially when you have it on the table while you are working!) that the Weinstein book afforded.
Content wise, both are comparable. Both have a few techniques which the other does not cover, but Weinstein does a better job teaching the ESSENTIAL techniques which you know you will absolutely be using on a regular basis.
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.