The Professional Chef VS On Cooking

Joined Feb 27, 2008
yes. However, I think _the professional chef_ is worth having (if you buy it from someone like amazon, who sell it for much, much less than the cover price) just for the section on equipment and ingredients. There are a bunch of things that bug me about the CIA books. They tend to say things like "X can be exchanged with Y for changes in behavior", but not what the changes *are*.


Joined Jun 28, 2009
On Cooking is my culinary school textbook. I like it a lot. I plan to get The Professional Chef but haven't yet. Professional Cooking is good, too.
Joined Aug 15, 2004
I have Craig Clairborne's book. Don;t like any of the recipes I tried out of it, especially Doris Day's Mousaka!

I have Professional Cook, and Professional Cooking. They are different enough to warrant referencing both, as you can get an idea of how much technique and quantities and ingredients can differ to come up with delicious end product, for instance brown stocks.

I wouldn't be without my 1960's version of Joy of Cooking. And I have a book, called something like "Chef Essentials" (I don't have it in front of me, but it gets down to the very basics of cooking. I will have to look it up this weekend, as I haven't used it in a while.

Lots of times, i'll just google recipes and read 10 or 20 of them, and from them I can garner what I want to use, and how much of it to get a dish that I think will be pleasing. I almost never ever make a recipe as written, except out of Professional Cook or Professional Cooking. And then I sometimes end up altering those a bit.

Joined Feb 13, 2008
deltadoc;296515 said:
I have Craig Clairborne's book. Don;t like any of the recipes ... /QUOTE]

Craig Claiborne -- some historical interest there. I don't think I'd term Claiborne's major books like the NY Times Cookbook a waste of time. Claiborne still provides a window on 70s cooking, which was a very interesting -- revolutionary -- time. Claiborne pretty much missed the revolution, so his writing and recipes also provide insight into the "pre-revolutionary" "Continental" cuisine that passed for high-end in post War America until cuisnes Gourmand and Novelle, California Cuisine, etc., changed the way we think about great food.

Plus you've got to give him points for his relationship and collaboration with Pierre Franey -- who was one of the best French cooks in America. Ever.

Also interesting to note that with the popularity of American regional, "comfort" cuisine, "boy food" and the creation of "New American" through the nineties and naughts, there's been something of a return to the old, rich ways.

Which book?

Joined Nov 5, 2009
Is there a book equivilant to Professional Chef for the lay person? I would love to get that book but the quantity in the recipes are for a kitchen.
Joined Jan 31, 2010
I am using On Cooking for culinary school, and altho it contains a wealth of information...the recipes are geared for a larger audience. It also contains a CD which lets you print all the recipes from the book. The recipes can be scaled down, of course. I haven't aquired the Professional Chef yet.

Happy Fooding!
Joined Aug 15, 2004
boar_d_laze;296516 said:
Well, can't argue about Pierre Franey. One of my all time favorites.

Which book? I assume Craig Clairborne must have had a few. THe one I had, which I bought for $1 at the same time I bought Escoffier's Cookbook for $1 back in the late 1960's, early 1970's was entitled something like "The Best Recipes from the NY Times" collected by Craig Clairborne. I just remember making Doris Day's Mousaka and hated it. I don't remember which other recipes I tried from it. ONce I started cooking with Escoffier, I forgot all about Mr. Clairborne's book.



Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I've got a copy of Claiborne's Chinese cookbook from about 1973. It's surprisingly modern compared to many other Chinese cookbooks of the era.
Joined Aug 15, 2004
I have no real professional training, but Professional Chef has lots of pictures, and lots of detail. I already probably roughly knew 80% of what it had to say already, but it filled in the empty areas and organized everything in my mind's eye better than before.

It is not that hard to figure out how to reduce restaurant size portions to family size or even 2-people size.

Joined Feb 1, 2010
I recently bought The Professional Chef, and love it! But I warn you, the recipes are for huge quanities!

Can anyone tell me more about Gastronique by Larousse? Saw it, was intrigued but didn't get it.

Joined Nov 5, 2009
I definitely like that the recipes are in weights instead of volume measurements.

I have to go back to the bookstore and re-evaluate these 2 books.

When I looked at them the first time, On Cooking seemed to be more involved as far as training purposes
Joined Oct 9, 2008
Jacques Pepin's cookbooks are all pretty good, in different ways, and he's very serious about teaching fundamentals. Complete Techniques is exceedingly difficult to use as a cookbook, however, because it's not organized around dishes. Jacques Pepin Celebrates is a very good example of his later work, in which he puts together meals and dishes while teaching the fundamental techniques that go into them.

A very impressive cookbook that might interest you is Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook. The dishes are fairly high-end stuff, not heavy on spice or overloaded with garlic (your husband will be pleased!), and Portale went to a lot of trouble to make sure these things actually work in a home kitchen, which isn't the case with every chef-written cookbook. He also gives these running commentaries that discuss what he's telling you to do and why, how you can adapt this or that technique to other purposes, how you can manipulate a dish, and so on. It's a wonderful book. Certain recipes in there are bound to become part of your standard repertoire.

Peterson's Essentials is a good book, in many respects a sort of rewrite of Pepin's Complete Techniques, with color pictures.

The trick to using any of Julia Child's wonderful cookbooks -- both volumes of Mastering the Art, plus From Julia Child's Kitchen and The Art of Cooking (I'm less enamored of her menu cookbooks and such) -- is that you really do need to read through and get the hang of the whole "master recipe" / "variations" thing. If you do this, and try it a bit, you will suddenly find that a number of these recipes stop being something you need to look up any more: you just know how to do it. And then the variations become obvious. And then, pretty soon, you are really cooking, not following recipes.

Larousse Gastronomique is a fascinating read, but it's not really very useful in the context you have in mind. It's an encyclopedia with recipes, at base, primarily useful when you're wondering "gee, how do I use this? how do I make that sauce? what does this term mean?"

I am vehemently opposed to textbooks in almost all contexts, including (especially) teaching, and what I've seen of The Professional Chef doesn't make me alter my opinion.
Joined Nov 5, 2009
Thank you for your help. I was actually looking at Complete Techniques the other day in the store. I compared my banana bread recipe to theirs and it is very similar. That makes me feel I have been doing it right.

Thanks for considering my husband's aversion to garlic.  It makes it a little hard to select recipes for him.  I love garlic but I don't mind giving it up if it makes him more comfortable.  He also can't eat any citrus flavorings. I was very disappointed after I made the corn recipe in Ad Hoc because the lime was over-powering to him.

I have to remember to give him very small doses of flavor and maybe, someday, his tolerance will increase
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I love garlic but I don't mind giving it up if it makes him more comfortable.

Then just leave it out, MissyJean! There are very few dishes that will actually suffer by leaving out an ingredient, or changing the amount, or adding something not specified.

The same dish with and without garlic might taste differently. But that's not the same as one being right and the other wrong.

This is the one lesson you must learn to be a good cook: Recipes are, at best, merely guidelines. They are not written in stone. Don't like a particular ingredient? Leave it out. Think the recipe would be improved with the addition of X? Pour some in.

This applies to all parts of the recipe. Even the main protein can be changed, if it suits your mood and taste. So what if the recipe calls for pork and all you have on hand is chicken. If the other ingredients seem to be a match for chicken, give it a try.

If you slavishly follow recipes it means two things; that you know how to read and know how to measure things. But when you adapt, and modify, and make the recipe your own, then you are a cook.
Joined May 5, 2010
I have every issue of Professional Chef ever in print, and I find it fascinating how the explanations of recipes and food tech have evolved through the years.
Joined Aug 8, 2010
I have 2 of Wayne Gisslen's books: Professional Cooking and Professional Baking. I also have the CIA's The Professional Chef. I like them all. I still want to see the CIA's book on baking and pastry. I think from a cooking point of view (rather than the usual baking) if I could just get one book it would be The Professional Chef.
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