Patrice Sartor's Reviews > The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection

The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman
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's review
Jul 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: food, non-fiction
Recommended to Patrice by: Food For Thought Book Club
Read from July 16 to 19, 2011

I highly enjoyed this one and would give it closer to 4.5 stars. Ruhlman breaks down his journey into three sections. The first focuses on the CMC, the Certified Master Chef exam, going into more detail in chef Brian Polcyn's story than some of the others. This is a brutally difficult, multi-day test of specific and precise cooking. Next, Ruhlman provides background on Michael Symon, currently an Iron Chef and owner of Lola in Cleveland. The book closes with an entire section on Thomas Keller and The French Laundry. Ruhlman ties these stories together by examining the drive and style behind each of the chefs; how do each of them achieve perfection, if at all?

This is my July Food for Thought book club book, and so I had no idea which chefs were going to be discussed. I was overjoyed by the last two stories--I became a fan of Michael Symon while watching The Next Iron Chef, and loved how his laughter is described perfectly in the book. And then to learn more about Thomas Keller! Ah, wonderful. Yet none of it would have mattered if Ruhlman wasn't a very solid writer. I had no previous knowledge of either the CMC nor Brian Polcyn, yet I was still riveted in the first part of the book. The writing flowed well, with plenty of technical discussions, yet nothing that I ever found difficult to grasp or out of my reach.

I learned about these chefs, but more than that, I came away from this book with a new found respect for food (ALL parts of the animal), along with some ponderings on my own motivations and yearnings to improve. Very well done.
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