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The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop and Table Hop Like a Pro (Almost)

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  277 ratings  ·  86 reviews
As a self-taught chef and creator of The Amateur Gourmet website, Adam Roberts knows the challenges you face in bringing fresh, creative homemade meals to the table without burning down the house or bruising your self-esteem. But as he shows in this exciting new book, the effort is worth it and good eating doesn’t have to be difficult. To prove his point, Roberts has assem ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 10th 2008 by Bantam (first published August 28th 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 416)
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this book is fun to read, but it didnt really teach me anything about cooking i didnt already know. except where to get my knives sharpened professionally - which i know i am too lazy to do when i can do them here adequately myself. actually, im too lazy to do it myself too. its more about overcoming food attitudes - food aversions, solitary dining, menu anxiety etc., than cooking, but its a fun, quick book if you like to read about food.
This book was a light read... I thought that it would have more information for an intermediate- to well-versed home cook, but it really seemed more geared to people who don't know how to cook at all (maybe it would be ideal for people who were just moving out on their own for the first time).

There wasn't much in it for me. The chapters focused on topics like how to shop at the farmer's market, trying to expand your palate to eat foods that you don't like, cooking for a date, and eating foods fr
I really hated this book. I hated it so much I finished it to figure out why. The premise is to teach people raised on chain restaurants and frozen dinners how to be gourmets, through a series of chapters of stories about shopping/chopping/table hopping with friends (non-gourmets) or experts (gourmets). The book was preceded by a successful blog, but is not the Julia / Julie project! I was interested in this because I too hope to persuade people that they can do better when it comes to eating, w ...more
I picked up this up after attending a talk between the author and Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen. Not having heard of him or his site before, I was pleasantly surprised by how good a host/interviewer he was at that talk, so I thought I'd check out his book. I'm not that into "serious foodie-ism" or eating out and such, but I thought it would be a memoir of how he went from a processed foods/chain restaurants to competent home cook or something like that and I hoped maybe it would be a good book ...more
This book made me remember why I used to read AG's blog every day... and why I probably should do so again.

If there is one flaw, it's surely in the marketing of the book. From the cover, with its apparently "too cute to be mercifully ignored" subtitle of "Shop, Chop, and Table-Hop Like a Pro," it sounds like this is a handy guide to A-to-Z lessons in specific pro cooking and dining techniques.

Sure, the book offers this in spirit, but the real value in the work is that it's the memoir of a foodi
Adam Roberts is a food blogger whose website, The Amateur Gourmet, I read pretty much daily. He was a law student at Emory when he realized that he was on a completely unfulfilling path, hated law school, didn't want to be a lawyer and really wanted to be a food writer. Although he graduated from law school, he then moved to New York to attend graduate school in writing. He is an entertaining writer and an enthusiastic cook - his blog is about food shopping, trying new recipes, and dining out in ...more
I am always astonished when I encounter people who don't cook. I don't expect everyone to garden, or do a handicraft or even read, but you have to eat to survive and why wouldn't you want to know how to cook something?

Adam Roberts, on the other hand, grew up in a family where making reservations was as close to cooking as they got. He is the odd man out - Roberts has learned to cook.

I did not read Roberts' blog until I finished the book, but his book makes it obvious that cooking and writing are
May 04, 2008 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the very novice home cook
I know, only three stars. I really expected to love this more. First of all, I felt like Adam Roberts did a lot of hand-holding, storytelling, and editorializing...thus this book is really short on information, on the nuts-and-bolts of home cooking and dining out. Second of all, his self-deprecating, self-doubting persona gets really old, really fast. Oh, stop it! You have your own book, your own wildly successful blog, and now your own webcast on Food Network! There just comes a point where the ...more
To me, the title of this book is a bit misleading. It sounds like an instructional manual, but I didn't pick up any specific skills from it. It's not a cookbook, either; there are a few recipes in it, but they all came from other cookbooks. This book is really an account of how Roberts connected with cooking and his attempts to get his family and friends to share his passion. He shares anecdotes about dining alone in Paris, tasting food from other cultures, and cooking for his restaurant-obsesse ...more
Ben Exner
Jan 01, 2008 Ben Exner rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cooks and foodies
Amateur Gourmet is the debut from Adam Roberts, the writer of a food blog on Adam is a graduate of Emory Law School who ended up studying writing at NYU and chose to begin a career in food writing based on the success of his blog. This book is written for the beginner, but can be enjoyed by an experienced foodie/cook as well. It covers basic lessons on how to get the most out of your cooking and dining experiences, from shopping at a market to dining out to cooking for th ...more
Chris "Stu"
This book doesn't do remotely what it claims to do. Instead of teaching you how to show, chop, and table hop, it just begins the first steps of doing so. It feels woefully incomplete--each chapter is framed around an "expert" or a "student" who he's going to teach/be taught by, but each of these chapters involves what seems like an hour or two of work at the most, such as, say, the chapter set up as a lunch with Ruth Reichl. That's it. You learn about as much from that chapter as you'd expect to ...more
People have criticized this book for not teaching them anything, but I don't think that's fair. I don't think it was ever the author's intention to teach specific skills. Yes, his description of onion-dicing is confusing. You try describing how to dice an onion. If that's all you want to know, go look it up on youtube. But... if you've ever been intrigued by cooking but don't know where to start, read it. It's all about boosting cooking-confidence and motivation, and with that I think he does a ...more
Nov 22, 2010 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in cooking
Recommended to Judy by: This book came in a box of cooking goodies from a BC auction
This was a totally fun book! It isn't something I would have picked up on my own, but having received it as the high bidder for an auction "cooking box", I decided to read it. I'm so glad I did -- the author's voice is very casual, playful, and engaging, but also informative. I'd love to sit in his house and listen to him talk while he's cooking! It's really an adorable book about learning to cook, learning to shop for food, trying different types of foods, eating in restaurants, etc., but all t ...more
Oct 23, 2007 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those afraid of their knives, people who think they might want to try and maybe eat somethinig new
I look at Adam Roberts website of the same name often. It is similarly written in a very conversational tone and makes for a very quick read. Also my edition seemed like it came in a rather large font. I cook, but not the way my husband (the trained chef) cooks, so from time to time some of his foibles are familiar as shared foibles. One is the big area of knife skills of which I have none. His vignette about going to a knife store with his friend I felt was excellent. I do wish my family (parti ...more
Read it in about an hour and was thoroughly disappointed since I used to like his blog a lot (pre-sellout to the Food Network and this crappy book, I guess). Disjointed, smug, not educational to anyone who has ever cooked or purchased food, and boring, this book is trying to be both a memoir and a how-to for future young urban foodies. I think I would have enjoyed a memoir about his childhood and his family, who all seem a little nutty, much more than this juxtaposition of two themes that were b ...more
Not my favorite of his works. I couldn't stand him for the first few chapters, though things got more tolerable later on.
I bought this book during a major foodie phase, and, quite frankly, I wasn't much impressed. So far as I'm concerned, Roberts didn't impart any wisdom of which I wasn't already aware. It's a nice illustration of the important elements of cooking (knives, eating out, family, etc), but I didn't think it was worth the price I paid for it. There was also an awful lot of name-dropping and disbelieving awe on his part. That got really old. Really fast.

However, there are a couple of recipes worth slipp
I had higher hopes for this book it ended up being just okay, fairly disjointed writing and I didn't appreciate a few of his sexual references. I did appreciate his journey of learning to cook since that is something I want to do as well, especially the part at the first where it talks about failing and that's okay it's part of learning to cook. And I have to admit I was a bit taken off-guard when he mentioned cooking dinner for (and essentially hoping to score with) his date, Craig, maybe I'm s ...more
Abigail Gullo
Oct 10, 2007 Abigail Gullo added it
Recommends it for: Non-Foodies
I thought I considered myself an Amateur Gourmet, but after reading this I may be more of an intermediate. This book is simple and a bit simple-minded. The author is constantly belly gazing and his self-absorption makes me glad I never had to eat a meal with him. His recipes are classics, but pulled for the lowest common dominator.

This is a good book for those relatives in Idaho that you have whose idea of a fancy night out is going to the local Perkins.

If you are looking for real foodie insight
I read this in one night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has a few recipes, some advice, some funny stories, and a little bit of waxing poetic about food and what it means. It's interesting to read this book after Peter Walsh's Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? as they both have the same basic message but go in different directions with it. Adam takes the thought that food should help you build a life and says "So go for it! Indulge! Enjoy! Share food with friends and infuse everything you ...more
I really don't know why I loved this book so much, but I did. I tend to find his blog unexciting, and don't really read it anymore, but the book was really good. I think that I loved the fact that it was structured around his family and friends - each chapter was a food story about someone. Adam Roberts is a good guy who -really- loves his friends, and it's hard not to like the book as a result. And the final-ish chapter, on eating alone at a Michelin starred restaurant in Paris, was fucking gre ...more
A young law student ponders his future and food claiming that discovering his inner foodie helped save him.

After admitting he is ill-suited to a career in law, Adam Roberts has an epiphany about life.

The result is this book and his food blog of the same name. He shares his journey and encourages others to embrace their hunger for life as well as food.

Along the way he consults some big names in food writing but overall his musings seem, well I'm sorry to say, rather amateur.
What I like most about this book is that Adam was raised much like me on eating-out and pre-packaged food. As an adult a foray into the world of cooking from scratch was foreign at best and scary at worst. He offers tips and tricks throughout that are definitely for the amateur but worth reading, I think, at any level.
He also includes some of the most honest writing about food in a world where much food writing equals food snobbery. Plus I chuckled a number of times.

I really enjoyed Roberts' blog, so I was looking forward to this book. Sadly, it doesn't translate well. The writing is pedestrian, the content completely fluffy and kind of dull, and, worst of all, the whole thing has a horribly condescending tone. Roberts seems to forget his own joy of discovery, chronicled in the blog, and now talks down to everyone who hasn't already made those discoveries (or gasp! came to different conclusions than he did). It's a shame.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Roberts, like an increasingly large number of young authors today, keeps a blog about his experiences in learning to cook. The book is composed of pieces taken and expanded upon from the blog. It’s not a bad book, given that it is one man’s attempts at becoming an amateur gourmet. It’s not the end-all of books about learning to cook and shouldn’t be read with that expectation. It was a gentle little read, but nothing more.
An easy read for those looking for the nerve to learn to cook. This story of a man on his journey to make and eat delicious foods will inspire even the most reluctant cook. There are a few recipes, and tips such as how to chop an onion and how to throw a dinner party, but the book is not a detail account of these things. It's one man's account of finding the joy and passion in cooking and sharing it with others.
Feb 11, 2010 Jess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
I finished this book in one sitting. Roberts, a wry, funny narrator who speaks directly to his audience, captures the art of amateur cooking—ranging from the simplest to the most complex. He's unafraid to make his own recipes, torture his family and friends into new culinary experiences, and he also is daring enough to admit using cookbook recipes, which I feel like so few food bloggers and authors admit to.
I like reading Adam's website, so I figured I'd like the book. Like the blog, this is a light, funny read with entertaining anecdotes. I really don't think the title of this book is appropriate. It has the ring of a manual or instruction guide but it's far from. It's mainly Roberts' personal story of how he began to like cooking and food and how you can, too. A quick, fun read but nothing amazing.
Dec 29, 2008 Dayna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
This book follows the writing that can be seen at Adam's blog. I loved how the chapters were broken down. The recipes included were good ones that I have ear marked to try. Having read his blog since '04 it felt like reading a book written by a friend. Two chapters really resonated with me. My favorite being the one that deals with the awkwardness that can be dining alone. Overall a quick enjoyable read.
Alexandra Dickson
Jul 20, 2009 Alexandra Dickson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
One of my greatest friends, Adam, wrote this book of essays about his adventures in amateur gourmet-ing... his attempt to become a purveyor of fine food and dining.

The book's publishing is a result of his award-winning blog,, that you should all go and visit!

The Amateur Gourmet comes out TODAY (Aug 28) and was chosen by Borders as one of their best new voices. Check it out!
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