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Think Like a Chef

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  722 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
With Think Like a Chef, Tom Colicchio has created a new kind of cookbook. Rather than list a series of restaurant recipes, he uses simple steps to deconstruct a chef's creative process, making it easily available to any home cook.

He starts with techniques: What's roasting, for example, and how do you do it in the oven or on top of the stove? He also gets you comfortable wi
ebook, 272 pages
Published July 18th 2012 by Clarkson Potter (first published 2000)
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Jul 15, 2008 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To my friends and schoolmates who wonder how i know what i know about cooking:

this book came to me as a present from my brother-in-law, who, when we are not arguing over baseball and politics, fight over how to properly braise a roast. i'll only concede defeat in the latter.

Collicchio runs the gammut on basic techniques to roast, braise, and blanch foods, as well as utilizing in-season vegetables and unlikely cuts of meat. he elucidates on some great base-recipes for vingarettes, fondues, and so
Jul 13, 2007 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has a lot of good cooking lessons and tips. I take issue, however, with cookbooks that feature ingredients that I am unable to get in Wisconsin. The recipes for salsify, ramps, and duck ham all look very tasty, but I'd have a very hard time obtaining those ingredients.

I did make one recipe from this book-- the "diced potato-leek soup", and it did not turn out well. It was due to my not cooking the bacon correctly. I ended up having to throw the whole pot of soup away and heating up a
Aug 03, 2008 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy reading about chefs and "how" they do what they do, not just their recipes. So, I was hopeful for this book. I did like it, but it was too simplified. Tom highlighted a few of his favorite flavor combinations and then focused on how he uses those in "expanded" ways, but, overall, I don't think he taught me how to think like a chef.

Enjoyable read, but I didn't learn that much and the recipes are not ones that I want to run out and make, and there are not that many in the book (but
Rahul Rao
Apr 24, 2013 Rahul Rao rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is NOT a cookbook (yes, it has recipes in it . . . but that's not the point). For those of you who can follow recipes well, but need help taking your cooking to the next level -- where you can start creating meals 1) based on what you have available or what looks fresh, and 2) without a set recipe -- this is a good starting point. Cooking should be more organic and less chemistry, and this books helps you "think" in a more freestyle/improv way. Of course the only way to really learn improv ...more
Mar 27, 2008 Avery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though Tom can be a one trick pony(by cooking everything with thyme and butter) this guy can cook.

This is a MUST have book for any serious home cook. It taught me how to compose dishes and the basics of restaurant technique.
Shelbie Allred
Jun 08, 2015 Shelbie Allred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-cooking
Inspiring, educational, and interesting! I read this book hoping to learn new techniques for cooking. I am a terrible cook (or maybe just uninterested), I always preferred to cook out of a box. But that changed and now I'm more interested in learning and this book helped with that. I believe you can make anything if you know the basics and Colicchio gives many tips and ideas to add to your cooking knowledge. Some of the recipes seem easy and tasty and I can't wait to try. However, some of the in ...more
Gina Williams
Speaking for myself, a decent baker and fledgling (read bungling) cook, I found this book to be both entertaining and educational. Even as the tough critiquing Head Judge of the reality cooking show Top Chef, restaurateur Tom Colicchio is known for his sage-like comments and straight shooting advice, which is found here in abundance.

The book begins with an introduction, explaining why he includes basic definitions and techniques, and doesn't apologize for the lack of a thousand and one recipes.
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is less a cookbook, more a series of introductory lectures on how to cook. Colicchio is a thoughtful and compassionate educator, concerned for the reader to really understand why he does what he does, and there is a warm intimacy to the book that makes it a pleasure to read from cover to cover. Colicchio is adamant about explaining a variety of basic techniques before offering recipes to readers, and it really inspires confidence that anyone who dedicates a little time and effort can create ...more
Shannon Winward
Tom Colicchio from before Top Chef. I appreciate a book about cooking that isn't just a recipe book - this is more of a collection of ideas, starting with some basic cooking terms and techniques and moving on to examples for working with/thinking about ingredients. How to "think like a chef". I like the groupings of recipes, such as half a dozen different ways to prepare roasted tomatoes - it's a good way to open up a cook's creativity... thinking about meals as building blocks of what's availab ...more
Dan Moore
May 19, 2008 Dan Moore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cooks, foodies, wanna be chefs
This book was a quick read for me. I made it through, with kids around, in a few hours. Based on previous reviews I thought it was more of a book, with some cookbook type recipes thrown in. Now that I've been through it, it's a cookbook, organized to teach a lesson, but still a cookbook. Lot's of mouth watering pictures, plenty of recipes, and very short stories on how and why you are doing what you are doing. Each "lesson" is a quick read. The recipes look great, and help you to hone your skill ...more
Oct 31, 2009 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-cookbooks
This book walks you through the processes a chef goes through. It begins with basic techniques - braising, blanching, etc., then goes on to "Studies," in which Colicchio starts with a basic process/ingredient, like roasted tomatoes, and then builds from there, using increasingly complex recipes. The next section is "Trilogies," which uses trios of ingredients (e.g., asparagus, ramps, and morels) in different ways.("Colicchio's motto: "If it grows together, it goes together" - so if you use ingre ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking-food
I would say, that other than "Cooking By Hand" by Bertolli, this book has influenced my cooking style more than any other book I've ever read. The reason for this is simple . . . it teaches you to do exactly what the title says.
The entire book is technique driven, not recipe driven. This isn't really a book you can pick up and look up say, "lobster" and just jump in and make the recipe. You need to read the entire first part of the book on cooking techniques so that when Tom tells you to "pan r
Jul 12, 2009 Erlinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first learned about chef Tom Colicchio from the TV show “Top Chef.” I liked his pragmatic appraisal of the cooks’ creations, his knowledge, and his constructive criticism. So I thought I’d check out this book.

I really like this book. It teaches you basic techniques like roasting, braising, blanching, stock-making, and sauce-making in easy-to-read and understand instructions, including pitfalls to avoid. A number of “studies” or recipes are included using the techniques, many focusing on a part
Tim Williams
Jan 13, 2015 Tim Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I seem to find famous chef's histories interesting so I liked the first part a lot. The recipe and teaching stuff I read and it looks good, certainly some good advice and insight, but I need to have time in the kitchen to give it all a try. Will be working with this book more.
Mar 21, 2010 Brandi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read through the bulk of the text, and while i can't say i've prepared every recipe - or in the proper order, for that matter - (and i'm a vegetarian, for pete's sake), i will say the chapter on mushrooms changed my life. i have made mushrooms every single week, for weeks on end now, and i will never turn back from colicchio's method of preparation. the cleaning, well, i'm not peeling them with a paring knife every time (i tried once - not worth the effort); i simply give them a quick wipe. bu ...more
Aug 03, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Tom Colicchio, so I was excited to pick up a used copy of this book. It falls in to a long line of books that combine memoirs with recipes, but I really appreciate Tom's views on food and cooking. As an amateur chef myself, I believe cooking is more than just recipes. I love good food, good ingredients, and making cooking an experience, not just an exercise. These are all views that Tom has, as well, and it really comes across in this book. Don't confuse him with a lot of the other ...more
Jan 23, 2016 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favorite cooking books - I read this back before I knew who Tom C. is (pre-Top Chef fame).
Jan 10, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My feelings about Tom Colicchio were not warm and fuzzy when I first opened this book. I've seen him only as the kind of jerky head judge on Top Chef. This book has given me a lot of respect for him, and it really is what it says it is--a book of technique and ideas to use as a spring board for your own creations. Highly recommended.
Oct 01, 2007 Tricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: take your cooking to the next level
Shelves: kitchen_library
This is a great read in addition to being a good cookbook. It teaches cooking as a series of techniques (braising, roasting, etc) rather than a process of strictly following a recipe. It will leave you more equipped to be inventive in the kitchen - to tinker with recipes and cook off the cuff with what you have on hand.
travis cooper
Jan 07, 2014 travis cooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looking forward to trying a lot of these recipes and building upon the basics Tom hooks it up with!
Aug 13, 2013 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is one of the best cookbooks out there.

I like it because it tells you how to cook basic items and then gives you recipes on how to expand those basics. It give you options and helps you experiment in the kitchen.

I use the chicken recipe all the time and it turns out perfect.

Aug 14, 2008 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cookbooks
What I thought was just another glossy coffee-table cookbook to support the career of a celebrity chef turned out to be a true teaching book. The Joy of Cooking was that for me 30 years ago, but this book really addressed the imagination, creativity and seasonal aspects of thinking like a chef.
Sep 04, 2007 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am enjoying this book and am making my way through the roasted tomato recipes. This is not a book of recipes, however, and fans of Top Chef should note that this is a cook book about the imagination of a cook more than it is a standard cook book.
Feb 01, 2011 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, cooking
Interesting read by one of the Top Chef judges; I had no idea of his extensive cooking background. Some neat stuff about his cooking philisophy, how to become intuitive and letting the ingredients dictate what you make, rather than recipes.
Aug 10, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it
Great approach to how to create dishes. I may be biased having worked for Tom and have always liked his approach to food, but I think it's a well written, insightful book on cooking, rather than the usual formulaic recipe style cookbook.
Jul 24, 2007 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
This is my favorite cookbook. From it, I learned to pan-roast vegetables to the most delicious flavor. Try the mushrooms, the asparagus ... almost anything in this book is instantly obvious, not overly step oriented and delicious.
Jul 11, 2008 Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
finding very inspiration thoughts about how to think as a chef. Almost like starting from scratch... its a great read for cooks and chefs startingout in the industry... there are no rules in this book... creativity RUNS wild!
Josh Hamacher
Normally I don't bother rating or reviewing cookbooks, but this one had enough commentary that I figured I would. Nothing groundbreaking, but some good recipes and Colicchio has a good attitude towards food and cooking.
Books n' Cooks
Dec 28, 2009 Books n' Cooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book as an intro to cooking. I've picked up everything I know as I've gone along, but the explanations for certain techniques were really great. Simple, easy to follow, and pretty inclusive.
The beginning chapter or two of this book is very well done and does have some very good advice however the later chapters tend to repeat and you get the feeling that the ghost writer just wasn't really into it.
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