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Reach of a Chef: Beyond the Kitchen

Overview

The acclaimed author of The Soul of a Chef explores the allure of the celebrity chef in modern America

Michael Ruhlman has enjoyed a long love affair with cooking and food. His explorations of kitchens and the professionals who call them home led Anthony Bourdain to call him "the greatest living writer on the subject of chefs-and on the business of preparing food." But even his vast experience couldn't have prepared him for the profound shift ...

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Hard cover First edition. New in very good dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 338 p. Audience: General/trade. Brand New-Gift Quality In a plastic ... cover Read more Show Less

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The Reach of a Chef: Professional Cooks in the Age of Celebrity

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Overview

The acclaimed author of The Soul of a Chef explores the allure of the celebrity chef in modern America

Michael Ruhlman has enjoyed a long love affair with cooking and food. His explorations of kitchens and the professionals who call them home led Anthony Bourdain to call him "the greatest living writer on the subject of chefs-and on the business of preparing food." But even his vast experience couldn't have prepared him for the profound shift that has occurred in the chef's place in society.

Beginning at Per Se, the newest and most expensive of Manhattan's four-star restaurants, Ruhlman takes readers into some of America's most illustrious-and most innovative-kitchens. Throughout his travels, he seeks new trends and phenomena, like Las Vegas's recent elevation to the country's food Gomorrah with the addition of Picasso and Aureole to the Strip's already formidable selection, and returns to legendary haunts like The French Laundry, Le Bernardin, and Cafe Gray to see what's changed. A dispatch from a new world where chefs are celebrities and culinary school classes are burgeoning, The Reach of a Chef looks at the state of professional cooking in the post-Child, Food Network era. In the end, an audience who loves to talk about, read about, and dine in the finest restaurants in America gets an in-the-trenches look at the professionals whose very life's work is to feed us.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
We all love to peek into the kitchens -- and the minds of great chefs. Perhaps no one has abetted that furtive impulse more skillfully than Michael Ruhlman, whom Anthony Bourdain calls "the greatest living writer on the subject of chefs and on the business of preparing food." In The Making of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef, and Charcuterie, Ruhlman traced the path from culinary institute to cooking mastery. In The Reach of a Chef, he delves into the rise of the celebrity chef in the Food Network era. His insider's view of the elite restaurant world offers us a diner's pass into regions most of us never see.
Publishers Weekly
There's no rest for the restaurateur in Ruhlman's engaging account of a culinary world that's become even more frenetic in the wake of the Food Network's success and the rise of celebrity chefs desperately clinging to their stars. Ruhlman (The Making of a Chef; The Soul of a Chef) revisits some of the people he's worked with in the past and the school where he trained to see how things have changed since "chef branding, with its product lines, multiple name-recognized restaurants, and entertainment venues, has lured the chef out of the kitchen." Ruhlman points out the irony of such chefs as Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and Anthony Bourdain becoming so successful that they no longer have time to practice the thing that brought them success in the first place. He solicits opinions on the phenomenon from an array of people in the business and also profiles some of those still shaping American cooking in the kitchen, from Melissa Kelly and her down-to-earth comfort food to Grant Achatz and his avant-garde, technical creations. Ruhlman has a light, unobtrusive style, and he brings considerable knowledge to the table when commenting on either individual dishes or the industry as a whole. (On sale May 22) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Author of The Making of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef, and much more, Ruhlman takes readers on another fascinating journey behind the scenes of great kitchens. His latest seeks to put a personal twist on the role of chefs in the age of the Food Network and pop celebrity. Ruhlman uses his easy-flowing style to examine how today's chefs have achieved the notoriety and fame of yesterday's sports stars. He goes on to explain how these chefs aren't in the kitchen preparing meals for their restaurant customers-they are hosting television shows, writing cookbooks, and developing product lines. An excellent companion to Ruhlman's other works and recommended for all libraries.-Lisa A. Ennis, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Plimptonesque writer finds further adventures, and misadventures, over an open range. Building on The Making of a Chef (1997) and The Soul of a Chef (not reviewed), Ruhlman returns to the Culinary Institute of America, a one-time trade school that ascended to college status and acquired a student body to match-not only youngsters seeking to become chefs, but also older professionals engineering midlife career changes away from, say, brokering and toward, say, pastry-decorating. Ruhlman notes that in just the last few years Americans have been discovering that it's possible to eat well, just as certain chefs have discovered that it's possible to make sizeable fortunes from becoming brand names, with presences on the Food Network and in all the right magazines. Remarks one career adviser, circularly, "Not everybody likes a brand, but everybody likes a celebrity. . . . You become a celebrity because everybody likes your brand." The rush to stardom benefits only a few, of course, leaving all those CIA enrollees who graduate only to work 80 hours a week for salaries in the low five figures most irritated-and eager to complain. Therein lies another change in culinary mores: The culture of complaint has entered the kitchen. Where it was once customary for someone to be fired for the quietest grumble-for "to allow people to complain opened up the doors to self-deception, laziness, and a lack of accountability"-whining is now de rigueur, coupled with an insistence that chefs not scream at their underlings, another traditional practice that's becoming rarer in the face of this sensitive new workforce. Ruhlman rushes about the country, fascinated by celebrity chefs here, up-and-comers there,America's changing food habits here, the underlings of the culinary world there, and his travels are wondrous to behold, especially when he hits Manhattan's Masa sushi empire and its customary four-digit lunch bills. True tales of the kitchen a la Anthony Bourdain: a pleasure for foodies, and an education of the palate and pocketbook.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670037636
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/18/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.24 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2006

    Not so good

    I read the bestselling 'Making of a Chef' and 'Soul of a Chef' and was very eager to read this book. Both of Ruhlman's prevoius 'chef' books are entertaining reading and hold the reader's attention with wonderful detail and a sense of adventure. However, I find that reach of a chef has much less grip on the reader, and much more of Ruhlman's philosophizing. This makes more than a few chapters of this book very boring reading. I understand that Ruhlman has gone beyond describing the workings of a culinary class/restaurant kitchen and to a new aspect: the celebrity chef. However he manages to make the subject and his opinions on it rather bland and boring which had me nodding off after a few pages. Ruhlman has his own distinctive style which I greatly admire, not the brash no-holds-barred writing style of Bourdain which appeals in a different way,but this book is not one of Ruhlman's best.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2009

    OSU Comp Student 2009

    "The Reach of a Chef: Beyond the Kitchen" by Michael Ruhlman, talks about chefs today and how they are glorified. Not only does he talk about how chefs are glorified, he also talks about how there are so many different kinds of chefs in the world. "The Reach of a Chef" is written in the form of memoirs. Ruhlman tries to bring across the point that as a chef, the kitchen will always be there for you. It is the start of your career and can bring a chef many amazing things, but if a chef wants to get out of all the insanity and spotlight it will always be there for him waiting. This book has some pros and cons. The pros are that Ruhlman has a great background on the subject and the his interviews play a key part in the book. The cons are that the message isn't known until the last page and the organization of the book is kind of confusing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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