My mom, Harriett Beach has offered to do some book reveiws on her food related reads. Here is the first with more to come.
The Reach of A Chef ( Beyond the Kitchen), Michael Ruhlman, 2006, Viking Press,
Penguin Group, 338 pages.
Ruhlman gives the reader an "in-the-trenches" look at professional Chefs whose life work is to feed others in order to feed themselves. This is a chronicle of the current business of food preparation as it goes from just preparing food "ordinaire"to the shift in American culture that has raised restaurant cooking to the level of performance art and the status of the celebrity Chef to being a CEO of his food empire. Ruhlman over the years has developed the skills and contacts with the Chef stars in the food world to hold his own in a commercial kitchen and thus writes from personal experience.
The narrative leads the reader through some of the most illustrious and ingenious kitchens in America while exploring how and why a successful kitchen or style of food preparation has evolved. The state of professional cooking has been elevated and shaped by the likes of industry giants such as, Thomas Keller, Masa Takayama, Grant Achatz, Melissa Kelly.and Emerial Lagassee. The description of the food
preparation in the various kitchens illustrates how much the art of food preparation has gone beyond that of Julia Child and The Food Network. In some kitchens even the equipment is no longer just stoves, coolers, and sinks but equipment usually found in industrial settings or the chemistry lab. This is no longer " your Mama's
kitchen" as food preparation and food tastes are changing.
Ruhlman's writing is an exciting review of the current cooking world that is a "don't skip a word" page turner that leaves the reader wanting more as they finish the last page. The writing captures the ritual and routine of creative food
preparation that centers the soul of the professional or "at-home" chef.