- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (October 31, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0609604856
- ISBN-13: 978-0609604854
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.9 x 10.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Think Like a Chef Hardcover – October 31, 2000
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Cookbooks by chefs can be daunting. They're apt to include tricky restaurant recipes, or, alternately, watered-down "translations." Tom Colicchio, chef at Manhattan's top-rated Gramercy Tavern, has a better way. Think like a chef, he advises, and you tap into food preparation creativity--the ability to forgo recipes, when you wish, for spontaneous kitchen invention. In a series of innovative chapters that explore cooking fundamentals, culinary themes and variations, and "plug-in" component preparations, Colicchio provides a cooking "anatomy" for gaining kitchen mastery. The book's 100-plus recipes are offered not as ends in themselves (though they stand as delicious examples of Colicchio's simple yet sophisticated style), but as illustrative keys to the culinary processes.
How does it work? Beginning with a chapter that reviews basic cooking techniques, and includes exemplary stock- and sauce-making formulas, the book then presents a series of "studies," building-block recipes like Roasted Tomatoes, followed by simple-to-sophisticated variations, such as Roasted-Tomato Risotto. A chapter called "Trilogies" explores clusters of three-ingredient recipes--duck, root vegetables, and apples is one ingredient grouping--that show how various techniques, applied to the same ingredients, yield various exciting dishes. "Component Cooking," which focuses on vegetables (Colicchio's major source of inspiration), provides recipes like Corn and Potato Pancakes to be used for assembling a "plate." Concluding the book is "Favorites," a selection of Colicchio's specialties that range from My Favorite Chicken Soup to Poached Foie Gras, a taste bonus that also stimulates the cooking imagination. Illustrated with more than 100 color photos, and including a wide range of tips, Think Like a Chef succeeds at helping readers see through a chef's eyes--and in so doing to visualize cooking with fresh insight. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Unlike many chef-authors, Colicchio (chef at Gramercy Tavern) does not offer modified restaurant recipes for the home cook. Instead, he sets out to inspire readers to think like trained chefs: to riff on ingredients and techniques rather than always follow recipes to the last letter. Indeed, the recipes Colicchio includes serve as creative fodder rather than authoritarian instructions. He begins with techniques ("Get these [roasting, braising, blanching, sweating, stock making and sauce making] down, and you've mastered the most fundamental tools to creating great recipes"). The chapter on sauce making includes excellent basic instructions that can be used for variations such as Apple Cider Sauce and Lemon-Rosemary Vinaigrette. He is the first to admit that his approach is unusual, but it works beautifully, and dishes such as Artichoke and Tomato Gratin and Root Vegetable Soup with Apples and Duck Ham not only illustrate the author's premise effectively, but also sound delicious. Colicchio has a natural voiceAthere's no foodie pretentiousness here at all, and his book is as straightforward, yet inventive, as the food he serves. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Take for instance the braising chapter. There is a long exhortation of the beauty of braising, followed by a short explanation of the actual process. We are told that it's basically cooking something in liquid that surrounds but not covers the ingredient. Then a mouth-watering recipe of braised pork belly follows. But there are so many more steps than just cooking it in liquid! The recipe tells us to score the skin, but doesn't explain why (crispiness). The pork is to be braised for an hour, and another cup of stock is to be added. Why, we are never told. A cup of stock might work very differently depending on the shape of the pan being used. An explanation like "add more stock so liquid comes up halfway pork belly because xyz" is way more informative and gives us the knowledge to apply concepts to another ingredient. Colicchio maintains throughout the book that the goal is to free us from following recipes and cooking times strictly through an understanding of his thinking process, but the actual recipes themselves encourage us to follow recipes and cooking times strictly. Come on. Later in the Component Cooking section there is a treatment on ramps which starts out with pickling. Wait, isn't this a technique that was totally ignored in the Techniques chapter?
If you would like basic cooking techniques, Youtube it or buy Alton Brown's book. If you want some Colicchio recipes, get this book. If you're looking for deep insight into his thought process, that content doesn't exist yet.
It's a great book chock full of basic easy to follow tips and tricks for beginners and more advanced chefs alike.
The pictures are beautiful! Some snippets of Tom's life and personal stories were a welcome surprise.
The recipes are very easy to follow and I can imagine easily becoming a better chef once going through all the recipes with the wonderful step-by-step instructions! You will impress people for sure with some of these delicious dishes!
Though a dedicated food lover, I'm a novice's novice when it comes to cooking up something beyond a good grilled cheese, so I needed the basic tips and technique instruction this book provides that other more sophisticated chefs may find tedious.
Laden with tons of full color pictures, and interspersed with personal tales from Colichio that inspire one to want to cook great food - this book starts off teaching you what you need to know about basic techniques - braising, roasting, sauteeing, etc... and how to do them well. Then, it's onto basic recipes that get built upon with later more advanced recipes to keep you going.
Along the way, there's plenty of tips covering everything from the easiest way to peel a fava bean to where to get good duck fat for confit that should make even those more advanced than I happy.
Though I now understand the techniques of cooking much better, I haven't advanced beyond the more basic recipes. But I've achieved my goal of having a couple of gourmet dishes I can do well with this book. My favorites (from a fish and veggie lover) are: Roasted Sea Scallops with Pan Roasted Mushrooms, braised red snapper and salmon in sea salt.
I highly recommend this book for any amateur cook or foodie that wants to have a better understanding of cooking terms or who want to add a couple of gourmet dishes to their repetoire with which to "wow" their dinner guests!
But a cook book should be judged on the merrits of what it adds to the information of a cook and on that level this book is also wildly successful in my opinion. This is not a book to pick up if you just want to have something packed cover-to-cover with new recipes - though the recipes in here are outstanding from those I have tried so far.
What is so great is this book tries to not just equip a home cook not just with a few more written recipes which they can follow, but to equip them with the ability and skill to see recipes for themselves and the knowledge and confidence to try new things themselves.
From the layout of chapters and information, to the content of the "teaching" to the recipes themselves this is a great book and is far and away the best cook book I've encountered in recent memories. I can't recomend it enough.