Book Review: The Making of a Chef

The Making of a Chef describes Michael Ruhlman’s journey through the curriculum of the Culinary Institute of America ("The CIA"). An author who cooks (or a cook who writes, as he would now say), Ruhlman goes through almost all of the blocks in the CIA’s program as a student.

Along the way, Ruhlman describes—in an anecdotal fashion—the process, personalities and pressures at play in America’s premier cooking school. Some of the anecdotes are told in great detail…almost too great. Ruhlman presents the dialogue among those around him as verbatim. This would be fine accept for the detail of the accounts and the pressures he would be enduring at the time—I don’t know about you, but when I’m making Hollandaise, I find it hard to concentrate on anything else and I would have a hard time taking notes on anything Carolyn is saying!

I was able to get past this, though, and I think it was a helpful look into the way culinary training works. I particularly liked hearing about the processes of a professional kitchen, near the end of the book.