So many chefs write the same old boring stuff. They start off with equipment and describe it like it was a chore that they have to get out of the way. Sort of like, here's the types of pans there are and here is what they are like and maybe here's how they are used. Kenji describes it with passion giving a great story of how when he tried to reduce cream using a pot that he didn't regularly use that the cream turned out a royal greasy mess due to the pan being too thin.
There are other good cookbooks out there with great recipes. And there are other ones out there that do a pretty good job of teaching how to cook and why certain things work. However, NOBODY....absolutely NOBODY I've ever seen has ever described the science behind cooking better than Kenji. He tells it so well and makes it so enjoyable and easy to read!
And his understanding of the subject matter is excellent. I'm a kitchen knife enthusiast. And no other chef I've seen has really properly described the characteristics of a knife that make the best ones the best. Few go into talking about the thinness of the blade actually being a GOOD thing. But at the same time, he looks at things from the beginner level AND the pro level, showing the full grip technique for beginners along with the balanced grip that most chefs use. And he understands that a cook also has to go with what they are comfortable with, like how he talks about how his wife loves her cheap, dull, unbalanced IKEA knife.
Also, don't let the title fool you. This isn't some cookbook about freezing food with liquid nitrogen and making all of these petite and crazy little dishes you'd get in some gourmet restaurant that you'd never cook at home. This cookbook is brilliantly about using science to make the dishes we like to cook and eat everyday and learn how to turn them from good to spectacular.
He's also got the experience to back up what he writes. He worked his way up from small kitchens to some of the fanciest restaurants in Boston. And Boston has some very good restaurants! Then he worked for Cook's Illustrated developing great recipes. Many of you might know Cooks Illustrated for some other names like America's Test Kitchen or Cook's Country. And now he writes for seriouseats.com.
I have a bunch of cookbooks, but none of them does nearly as great of a job as Kenji at explaining things. This is THE COOKBOOK of ALL COOKBOOKS if you have a passion for cooking like I do and really want to learn how to become a better cook. I'm definitely going to start following his blog and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND getting this cookbook.
This isn't more of a recipe book. This is a HOW TO book that has recipes. I hope I get to see a lot more cookbooks from Kenji and I hope his publishers will let him really write what he wants to write. He's a genius chef and I'd take his cookbooks over Julia Child, Pepin, Jamie Oliver, Emeril, or any other big name cook out there. He's one chef I'd love to meet.
Any of the negative reviews are undeserved. For once, we have a cookbook that is pure genius. Anybody who takes the time and reads it thoroughly and cooks from it is bound to realize it. I'm getting more out of this cookbook than dozens of others combined. He even gets into making your own sausage!
About the best way I can describe this cookbook is it feels like he looked directly into the soul of cooking and wrote with the passion and understanding and genius of a chef to make a master-piece that I'll cherish for years to come.