The Army has the M-1 tank the Air Force has the B-52 bomber the CIA has the Pro Chef 7th edition. This series of cookbooks has come a long way since I was a kid. I can remember being in my father's restaurant and he was teaching me how to cook, using recipes from his own copy of the then paperback Pro Chef 2nd edition. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw the same cookbook in an airtight display in the library at the CIA (The Culinary Institute of America), like it was the original copy of the U.S. Constitution or something. Even the 5th edition I got when I went to school there seems archaic compared to this new one.
If you are not familiar with the book I am referring to, it is the main text for the culinary students at the CIA and many other cooking schools. This particular updated version is the most complete text to date. Not only does it include a catalog of over 800 recipes spanning every cooking method on the planet, it also has a very thorough product identification section. You're almost getting the USDA's meat buyers guide inside too. All the formulas for cost control and culinary math are included. The nutritional information and dietary guidelines and recommendations is very thorough.
The first 10 chapters of the book (35 chapters in all) I found to be the most valuable. It discusses in great detail various careers one could pursue once fully qualified. Careers span from the obvious choices like Executive Chef and Private Chef, to things a bit more obscure like Food Stylist and Food Journalist. Also, a whole range of front of the house opportunities is also a career option.
The photography is very clear and everything you see is in an extremely professional environment. For example, every time you see someone handling food that will not be cooked or cooked further, (i.e. salads, terrines, canapés) they are wearing latex gloves staying in accordance with the New York glove law while producing the book.
I highly recommend this book. Even if you have a previous copy, this one is over the top. I can't even fathom how they will improve for the 8th edition.