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Hello and Advice!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone!

I"m here in search of help. My wife is currently considering a career change into gastronomy and I am looking for the BEST book (or books/videos)I can get her to at least get into the basics of gastronomy. She can cook, but only by heart and improvisation. Culinary school is not an option at this point in time so Im just trying to give her as much of as head start as I can.

Im a musician myself and I know a ton of good books by big schools. Is there anything of the sort I may find on amazon? Or maybe a complete "core curriculum" series?

I really appreciate your guidance. Oh yeah, hopefully anything you recommend wil be available on amazon.com as we are currently living in Mexico.

thanks so much,

post #2 of 6
Rather than learn from books and then go out and try to get a job, she should see if she can learn on the job. She should go to a restaurant she admires and talk to the chef, telling her/him that she would like to learn and ask for an entry-level job. Or go to a school cafeteria or dining room or other professional kitchen that interests her. (I'm assuming that it's okay for your wife to work there -- with the proper papers and all. If not, of course, this won't work.)

Going this route, she will first of all see if she really does want to work in the field, and she will learn how things are done in a professional kitchen. Book learning is good -- and you can search on ChefTalk for many discussions with recommendations of books -- but it won't tell her if she likes doing the work and is able to do it. Cooking professionally is very different from cooking at home.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #3 of 6
I'm sorry I have to disagree with suzanne- kitchens do not teach gastronomy- most chefs have very little idea of the scientific principles behind cooking- you'll never learn them in a kitchen.

Unfortunately books are the ONLY way you'll learn these.

Good books in gastronomy start at one place: Harold McGee's Of Food and Cooking.

Its 900 pages long- you'll come out knowing more about the science of food than any chef you'll meet.

From there, you'll have a good idea which way you would like to go.
post #4 of 6
What Chris said. If she's serious about gastronomy in the modern sense of the word, the three best sources in the English language are Harold McGee, Harold McGee and Harold McGee.

If, on the other hand, she's interested in learning to cook along more classic lines, there are other and better sources for instruction.

From what you say, it appears she has a good palate, creativity, and a sense of what people like. Those things are not only incredibly important, they're the things which cannot be taught. For learning some basic techniques and some of the discipline of cooking which she seems to want, don't overlook junior college classes.

post #5 of 6
Hi Bangha,

I admire your wife's looking for a new challenge in life. I would tend to lean to getting some practical experience in a kitchen or cafe, so she can get a feel for it, and decide if it truly is suited to her. At the same time, read, read,research online, then read some more. See if she will come onto the forum and ask questions - lots of people from all walks of life to advise in any queries, and she is more than welcome :) We are not all pro chefs/cooks/caterers, many home cooks also, and those looking to learn.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #6 of 6
I think Bangha is could be talking about cooking in general, not gastronomy of the molecular type.
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