A book for professional cooking basics?

Joined Jun 28, 2006
I want to learn some professional cooking as a hobby. I need a book with the basics. I thought 'The Professional Chef, Seventh Edition' looked good, but then read some reviews that it's not good for the very basics. I hardly know anything about cooking. Suggestions anyone? Thanks.
Joined Dec 30, 1999
If you hardly know anything about cooking, it may not be necessary to narrow your seach to "Professional" cooking only. You need to learn how to cook at all, much less on any professional level. Different people learn different ways, some are more visual, some read, etc. But cooking I believe is best initially learned thru video because you can see color and texture which can not be conveyed so easily with words until you gain experience.

Here is one place for you to start, Martha Stewart had a series of 30 video segments called "Cooking School" and you can view all of them online here. Each technique comes with recipes you can try in order to learn the technique. The segments were specifically created so you can learn the "basics". It's one place to start.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Pauli's "Professional ccoking the Modern way". Very systematic approach, with emphasis on the 14 methods of cooking. Focus on the basics, and the fancy stuff will be easy later on.
Joined Jun 28, 2006
Do you mean 'Classical Cooking The Modern Way'? Are you sure it's worth it? It's the same price as 'The Professional Chef' but only has about 400 pages awhile TPC has over 1000. It looks like over half of CCTMW is history, accounting and nutrition too... :\
Joined Sep 10, 2005
Here are a couple for ya:

Shirley O Corriher's "Cookwise"
The Joy of Cooking
Complete Techniques by Jacques Pepins
I do not think the Professional Chef is the way for you to go I have the book and to be honest for someone just starting out in the kitchen its a little to much.You may get frustrated a little quickly with it. Bottom line not a beginner book.

Rgds Rook
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Fordprefect: Yeah, I gotta admit I am biased towards CCTMW. It is the backbone of the Swiss Cook's apprenticeship, and imprinted into my brain, the result of a 3 year apprenticeship and constant referrals ever since then. If you want basics, it's got basics. It is one of the few books that has very thorough and detailed descriptions on ALL 14 methods of cooking. I repeat, very few books have this information. Concentrate on the methods, and everything else will fall into your lap.

Other good books are James Peterson's "Sauces". Specialized, yes, but very rich in information, probably one of the best books on food that I have come across so far.
Joined May 26, 2001
Here's my review of The Professional Cook as a learning tool for a novice cook. And here's my review of Peterson's Glorious French Food.

FordPrefect (btw, I love your name ;) : DON'T PANIC), neither is a good place to start if you are brand new to cooking. While the professional texts are okay for use in school, where there is an instructor to answer questions and clarify anything you don't understand, if you try to use them all on your own, you will be lost from page one. That's true of the CIA book, of Gisslen's Professional Cooking (which was the text where I went to school), and even somewhat true of Labensky's and Hause's On Cooking, although I think that's the best of the bunch. (I have the Pauli book, but haven't looked at it much, so I can't give it a thumbs-up or down.)

So: look for the books that are meant for home cooks. Joy of Cooking is one of the absolute best books, chockfull of information. (There's a new edition in the works, but don't wait for it; even the one from 1991 is excellent, although some people prefer even earlier editions.) Pepin's Complete Techniques is good, if geared a bit above total novice. Peterson's Essentials of Cooking is excellent, as is The New Cook by Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler. That last one is the book I give to everyone who starts asking me cooking questions. They have all loved it, and learned a huge amount from it.

And of course there's always Mastering the Art of French Cooking -- some of it is dated now, but that's how many of us first learned to cook, and how many are STILL learning to cook. :)

Finally, please don't judge by number of pages versus price. It's what's ON the pages that counts! :lol:
Joined Oct 23, 2003
if you can find the out of print versions of Pepins books "La Methode" and "La Technique" they are definately worth picking up. Or the condensed and reprinted versions of of "Complete Techniques" as said above is good.

I think if you can find an older version of "The Professional Chef" v5 or v6, they are constructed differently than the new versions-technique and method in front, recipes in back. i found them far easier to navigate and learn from than the current texts. Seems that the newer ones are geared towards the "instant gratification" with a recipe included in the technique without the detail-maybe its just me though....;). I was requires to buy 7th edition for school, it baffled me after going through earlier editions.

Joined Jun 28, 2006
Thx Suzanne but me reading your review before I made this thread led me to make those uncertain comments in my first post about the book. :)
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Here are my top picks for basic and not-so-basic-but gotta-have books
In no particular order

--New Professional Chef- CIA
--Gisslen's NEW Professional Cooking (beware-NONE of his baking formulas work) but techniques are solid
--On Cooking- Labensky
--On Baking-Labensky
--CIA's new Introduction to Culinary Arts-fantastic on basics!
--ACF's new Culinary Fundamentals-Also a wonderful basics book
--Art and Science of Culinary Preparation-Chesser- a little more in depth and technical

Hope this helps
Joined Oct 9, 2006
I agree with CampChef. Culinary Fundamentals by the ACF is my top recommendation. It goes through the basics (to include a little bit of nutrition and sanitation) of knife skills, cooking methods, etc. It has practical applications inside for you to work out at your own leisure (I really liked this, especially when I went through my fundamentals class), and the recipes contained within aren't bad either. Overall its a fine book (and I'm an English major, so I've seen my fair share of not-so-fine texts).
Joined Oct 2, 2006
Maran Illustrated Cooking Basics, from Maran Graphics Inc. (see www.maran.com/cooking.htm ), published in March 2006 by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

A highly visual (full colour photographs) step-by-step instructional book of professional culinary techniques and simple recipes with 10 ingredients or under.
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