Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Saucier's Apprentice: An Amateur's Adventures in the Great Cooking Schools of Europe” as Want to Read:
The Saucier's Apprentice: An Amateur's Adventures in the Great Cooking Schools of Europe
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Saucier's Apprentice: An Amateur's Adventures in the Great Cooking Schools of Europe

3.04  ·  Rating details ·  255 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
In the blink of an eye, Bob Spitz turned fifty, finished an eight-year book project and a fourteen-year marriage that left him nearly destitute, had his heart stolen and broken on the rebound, and sought salvation the only way he knew how. He fled to Europe, where he hopscotched among the finest cooking schools in pursuit of his dream. The urge to cook like a virtuoso, to ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company (first published May 12th 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Saucier's Apprentice, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Saucier's Apprentice

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
The topic was interesting. The recipes were quite good. The parts that were actually about food and cooking were fairly enjoyable. But the author comes off as such a spoiled, condescending, pretentious douchebag that I was constantly rolling my eyes at his angst-ridden bullshit. This guy could teach 16 year old goths how to mope and whine.
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You know, you go to the big downtown library and you pick your book off the shelf. You take it to the front desk and hand it to the girl who works there. Now these library types are quiet people who don't always look you in the eye. They put up with their low-paying jobs because the love being around books, love handling them. They love books more than they love people, I'm pretty sure. It's a not-quite-human experience, this passing your book back and forth and bleeping it through the check-out ...more
Lianne Burwell
Nov 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir

The only reason I actually finished this book was that it checked off another item on the Book Riot 2016 Read Harder challenge (read a food memoir).

To summarise: the writer is in financial jeopardy, having just finished a book on the Beatles (which a quick google finds a distinct dissatisfaction with his work), and fairly recently divorced. He likes to hold dinner parties for his friends, including a woman he wants to practically bludgeon into being his girlfriend, even though she does ever
This was an interesting book to get into right after reading 'Blood, Bones, and Butter' as it was another story that was a highly personal account of the authors relationship with food plus everyone in their life. I was definitely attracted to the cover and the overall story sounded cool. Man in his fifties gets to go around Europe and learn how to cook with some amazingly great chefs and fun cooking school blurbs. When I finally started reading this it was good but.. urgh! Spitz' narrative voic ...more
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
I have always been a bit suspicious of books which are the product of the author setting out to have an experience so he can write about it. This book shows why my suspicion is often well founded. The author is a professional writer and amateur chef who was searching for something to write about for his next book. Going to Europe and taking some cooking classes recommended itself, and thus was The Saucier's Apprentice spawned.

It's not the greatest foodie book, and isn't even the best one to desc
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-cooking
The concept for the book was interesting but I would hardly call his experience as "travels through the great cooking schools of Europe". He had a few memorable experiences when he dropped the chip on his shoulder and shut up but his ego or attitude seems to have gotten the best of him in some of the more traditional "classes" as if he was above it. Plus he had no right to expect that fine dining kitchens were going to let him work aide by side with their chefs during regular service when he had ...more
Oct 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
I love to cook. I also have a family of picky young children, genetically influenced by their picky father. Day-to-day cooking is much more of a chore than an expression of creativity. But I still love to read books about food and cooking-- but not this one. To tell you the truth, Bob Spitz's memoir depressed me. He writes about having a midlife crisis-- finishing a big book, getting divorced, and losing his moorings. So instead of buying a sports car or hooking up with a floozy, he somehow scor ...more
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cooking
I did finish this book, mostly because I wanted to see what the cooking schools were like from anyone's perspective. I thought it might get better when he went from France to Italy. It did not. The author comes across as arrogant, snotty, and self-centered. I couldn't tell how he got hooked up with the private chefs, but it seemed that they were always annoyed by his presence. The cooking classes appear to have terrible, with two notable exceptions. The problem is that it seems that the only way ...more
After eight years working on a Beatles biography and then going through a divorce, Bob Spitz is finding joy in cooking Friday night dinners for his friends. Especially one drown in particular, a woman who may or may not return his affections. He, as he says "like so many others", decides to take a trip around Europe to shake up his life a little bit. And maybe some time spent with Carolyn will help decipher their relationship. Also, it will allow him to learn from some of the masters.
This isn't
Rachelle (RavenclawRachelle)
WARNING: Have snacks around when you read this because it will make you so hungry!

This is one of the first memoirs I've read so I don't have a lot of experience to compare it to but I'll give it my best shot.

This book made me want to run into the kitchen, cook up a storm and devour the results! I was fascinated by the author's experiences, learning about various cooking techniques and the reputations of certain chefs and their cooking school. While I enjoyed the descriptiveness of the authors wr
More a mediocre travel-log and less about cooking, this isn't really one for the foodie crowd unless you're in the same head space Spitz was here- disjointed, adrift and figuring that cooking schools are as good a distraction as any.

The writing itself is professional, as I would expect. But Spitz doesnt really give us much insight into either himself or the European cooking school circuit. It's a portrait of the mid-life crisis of a man hamstrung by his own doubts. His inexplicable attachment to
Sep 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Conclusion: I have yet to try the recipes given, but they can't be worse than the actual book. This is a "library book" at best.

I have to agree with all the other reviewers who have commented the following:

* Mr. Spitz whines and cries throughout most of the book about an unrequited love interest.

* Mr. Spitz comes over narcissistic, arogant, rude, obnoxious, spoiled, snobby and other adjectives I'm sure I'm missing... He scorns some people for not knowing the difference between a bain-marie and a
Rachel Rogers
Feb 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
Didn't even finish it. This book sounded fascinating (and to be honest, the half that I read had a few such moments) but Spitz kept annoying me. He was egotistical and foolish and kept hoping on that relationship that was doomed to failure the first time the reader met her. His ongoing desire to have him join her and how he coped with her disappointing him lost him any empathy that he might have had from me. His attitude toward the kitchens he visited were stupid too. I enjoy cooking and feel li ...more
Oleg Kagan
Dec 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: food
Bob Spitz's life is in a rut, so what does he do? That's right, he books a trip through several private cooking schools and a restaurant or three in France and Italy. Does the hyperbolic title take anything away from Spitz's entertaining book? It does not. Though The Saucier's Apprentice doesn't have the most memorable food descriptions, narrator, or storyline, there is enough here between Spitz's brooding (over his love life) and swooning (over the food) to keep a reader like me interested. Thi ...more
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Bob Spitz's travels throughout Europe in search of sooth and succor after a failed marriage and a failed romance. Along the way he spends eighteen weeks experimenting with eighteen different cooking schools and stages and posh restaurants. Its funny and educational and as someone who is planning to spend two weeks next year in Europe in a cooking school, I found it invaluable. It is insightful and entertaining at the same time. PLUS when I finished the book I emailed him that ni ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017-reads
Two stars for some pretty good recipes, and an interesting travelogue. As someone who has worked in good restaurants, I found his egotism in top kitchens -- opened to him to indulge his mid-life whim -- unappealing. Why WOULD a fine chef in a highly rated restaurant let this man anywhere near the line? And threaded throughout, the judgy whining. Oh my, the whining. Sometimes it is fun to read about an author's mid-life crisis. This is not one of those times.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love cookbooks. I love to read. I love to travel. My secret pleasure are books such as this where there are little treasures of recipes. I have made the biscotti recipe already and the curried chicken fricassee is on tomorrow's dinner menu. Bob is one lucky guy to finance a four-month excursion and share his self discovery with us. I enjoyed the wit with which he shared his encounters with the people he met. I am also a bit more aware of the whole "cooking school" experience abroad. I will def ...more
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'll admit there was a lot of broke up and am wallowing but that is real life. I'm looking forward to trying some of the re pies in this story. Bob Spitz goes on a journey similar to Eat, Pray, Love without the praying and failing in the love department. He goes to several cooking institutes throughout France and Italy. A once in a lifetime experience I can dream of. Th opportunity to work with fancy chefs and home cooks seemed amazing. The writing style was descriptive in all the right ways. If ...more
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like Bob Spitz a little bit more. Anyone who dedicates eight years and almost all their personal finances to writing a book they're passionate about should be similarly passionate about food if they commit to cooking enough to schedule an extensive tour of cooking schools in France and Italy. Despite the cute anecdotes, the bulk of the text is Spitz carping about how things weren't what he expected, about how was too skilled or not skilled enough, and about how his classmates aren't ...more
Mar 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Enjoyed this man's journey and envied his ability to have the time & money to do nothing but travel and learn to cook. His varied experiences were very interesting and entertaining. I enjoyed his descriptions of the "characters" he met along the way. I was a little put off by the use of so much French while he was in France. I understand that when he was in France he learned in French, but he was writting a book in English - felt pretentious to me that he did not translate the names of the r ...more
Feb 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
I am half way through this book and I probably won't finish it. For a New York Times best selling rock n' roll journalist this guy is a lazy and tedious writer. Cliche after cliche after cliche. His descriptions of Europe, Europeans and visiting Americans seem to come out of a 1950's tour guide written by someone who's never been there. And oh yeah isn't this suppose to be about food? Finally, his personality leaves much to be desired: alternately whiny, obtuse, ungrateful, pretentious; and boy, ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
In 323 pages, I must have missed the "great cooking schools" part of this introspective (self-absorbed) travel and cooking journal. Even the "Europe" in the title refers only to France and Italy. There are a few interesting but oversimplified recipes scattered between Spitz' attempts to exorcize a failed romance. Much more successful in the genre is Kathleen Flinn's "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry" (New York: Viking, 2007).
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
I usually don't like writing a review if I can't add anything to the discussion, but as someone who didn't consult before she picked up this the reviews because they're absolutely spot on. He did come off as "prétentieux" despite spending so much time writing about food that wasn't. Thankfully it was his rich descriptions of delicious food that saved this book in my eyes. I'll admit I used this memoir as food porn. And it was delicious.
Nov 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
I should have loved this book. A story about a normal guy who takes off to Europe to learn advanced techniques is right up my alley. I should have breezed through it and dreamed of following in his footsteps. But, I hated it. The writer's style is arrogant and makes me cringe with every page. As a New Year's gift to myself, I gave myself the permission to stop 2/3 through and move on to something I enjoy.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-writing
Too bad I don't enjoy cooking as much as I enjoy eating and reading about cooking because Spitz includes many recipes. This was very readable, but I admit I got a bit bored about 2/3 of the way in. The "great cooking schools" of Europe are essentially the homes/kitchens of chefs that welcome tourists. Given that he is a writer and this was "research" for a book, Spitz has more time than most to indulge in this sort of grand tour.
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you love Anthony Bordain (on TV or in print -- ooo, read Kitchen Confidential, it's great) or if you just love to cook and eat great food, you'll enjoy this book. More than just the author's tour through France and Italy's tourism cooking schools, he's got a great, warm, personal way of writing.
Lisa Osur
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book although I am a declared foodie- so be warned, if you don't like food, forget this one. Bob Spitz, who wrote the latest Beatles bio, writes the true story of his adventures learning to cook in Italy and France. Some of his experiences are wonderful and some not so much so, but as a writer he has a way of telling a story- and those recipes!- that had me laughing and wishing I had been along for the ride.
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Reads like a self-indulgent self-published memoir, but for light fare before falling asleep, it gets the job done. I am mildly enjoying the author's midlife jaunt through the kitchens of France & Italy mostly because I love food & cooking, not because his journey is self-reflective and meaningful. The side theme of his broken heart is half-baked and mostly irrelevant. Read it for the recipes and vicarious enjoyment of la cuisine/la cucina de la Mediterranée.o
Mar 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was expecting this to be an interesting insight into cooking classes in Europe and food in general. Instead, there was a lot of whining and arrogant ramblings. The narrator often complained and put down fellow classmates or teachers. If he did try to have a positive thought, it often came across as condescending. I often felt that the narrator was telling me how he is one of the few people out there that appreciates food and knows way more than I do.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times
  • Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris
  • Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition
  • The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis
  • Under the Table: Saucy Tales from Culinary School
  • Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America
  • The Fourth Star: Dispatches from Inside Daniel Boulud's Celebrated New York Restaurant
  • The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World's Fiercest Food Fight
  • Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance: The Turbulent Life and Fine Times of the Man Who Changed the Way We Eat
  • Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto
  • American Food Writing: an Anthology: With Classic Recipes
  • The Year of Eating Dangerously: A Global Adventure in Search of Culinary Extremes
  • Keeping the Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy
  • Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens
  • Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee—The Dark History of the Food Cheats
  • Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America
  • Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life
  • Clementine in the Kitchen
Bob Spitz is the award-winning author of The Beatles, a New York Times best seller, as well as seven other nonfiction books and a screenplay. He has represented Bruce Springsteen and Elton John in several capacities. His articles appear regularly in magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times Magazine; The Washington Post; Rolling Stone; and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others.
More about Bob Spitz...

Share This Book