or Connect
ChefTalk.com › BenRias › Reviews by BenRias

Reviews by: BenRias

Finding Julia

Posted

Pros: An in depth look at Julia the Person

Cons: Sometimes drifted into unnecessary asides

It’s hard to imagine Julia Childs as anything other than a famous chef and author—her persona just seems to radiate Kitchen-chic.  Yet, the story of Julia finding herself is richer than you would expect.  From her privileged childhood, to her socialite youth, to her work in the forerunner of America’s Central Intelligence Agency, to the eventual uniting with the love of her life, Paul, Julia’s tale is one for the books.   Even before finding her home in the kitchen, Julia was the center of attention.  Her energy, zest for life, and dramatic-flair just seemed to absorb everyone around her.  However, despite being surrounded by people and places that would make...
(read more)

A Nutritional Guide for the Professional and Home Cook

Posted

Pros: Very flavorful, health conscious recipes

Cons: Lots of consistency issues and omitted details

A restaurant cannot live by flavor alone.  As today’s diners are becoming more informed about the impact their food decisions have upon their health, modern kitchens must stay ahead of the learning curve.    In the Culinary Institutes of America’s latest nutrition textbook, Techniques of Healthy Cooking, The Culinary provides professionals with the tools necessary to satisfy the growing health consciousness of their patrons.  The book’s introductory chapters teach you the basics of healthy eating, while the recipes focus on maximizing flavor.  This is not a diet book, so ingredients like salt, sugar, eggs, and butter are not entirely eliminated. ...
(read more)

At-home Training for Experienced Pastry Chefs

Posted

Pros: Reveals how to perform many advanced techniques

Cons: Skills required are well out of reach for most home cooks

Elements of Dessert is a professional, advanced level cookbook that teaches experienced pastry chefs how to take their skills to the next level.  The book is beyond the needs of most home cooks, but if used the right way, Elements will still provide plenty of useful knowledge to the adventurous.    Following the tradition of most cookbooks from the Culinary Institute of America, Elements is organized in a way that will provide users an at-home education.  Most cookbooks from the Culinary start with cooking basics, and a review of ingredients, prior to introducing recipes that are published sequentially from basic to more complex.  However, chef-author...
(read more)

The Making of a Chef Innovator, without the Pomp

Posted

Pros: Wasn't a manifesto on molecular gastronomy, and captures Achatz's passion

Cons: Could have been a bit more consise on various topics/stories

Simply put, Life on the Line reveals the groundbreaking journey of Chef Grant Achatz in the world of molecular gastronomy.  The book is not a manifesto for the movement.  Rather, it focuses on the Chef himself, following his enthusiasm and excitement for cooking and flavor.  Despite his humble beginnings in his grandparents’ restaurant, or perhaps because of them, Chef Grant Achatz has changed the American dining experience.  And Life on the Line lays out precisely how he became a face of molecular gastronomy in the nation, and throughout the world.       Achatz is known for his innovative work with the essence of flavor.  Pursuing new...
(read more)

Especially for foodies!

Posted

Pros: Informative and thorough recommendations from an educated palate

Cons: Not optimized for quick reference like traditional travel guides

Mike Colameco’s Food Lover’s Guide To NYC is possibly the best written guide on the market.  But be prepared to do your homework to get the most use out of Colameco's recommendations.      What sets this book apart from other travel guides is Colameco's credentials within the industry and his personal experiences with each restaurant listed.  He describes the training pedigree of chefs, past and present business partnerships, and even the evolution or devolution of kitchens’ performance.  He goes so far as to describe in detail the decor and vibe of restaurants and their neighborhoods.  Not satisfied with even this level of detail, Colameco often...
(read more)

A Primer and a Biography

Posted

Pros: Excellent overview of all things Ferran

Cons: Covered everything about Ferran, but very little from Ferran himself

The latest book on world renowned Chef Ferran Adria, simply titled "Ferran," is very good overall but do not expect the average biography here.    The author, Colman Andrews, sets the book's tone from the start by declaring that his goal is not to rehash the same topics, insights, and issues that have been written ad nauseam by other writers.  Instead, he aims to cover those things in Ferran's life that deserved more attention.  Colman starts with Ferran's early home life and moves on chronologically to his youth, military service, first experiences in the kitchen, and his first contact with what would become El Bulli.  The rest of the book moves forward in...
(read more)

Learn Charcuterie at Home!

Posted

Pros: Thorough and Clear

Cons: May require new tools/equipment

The Culinary Institute of America does it yet again with their latest volume, The Art of Charcuterie!  With author John Kowalski at the helm, the Culinary has produced a thorough and accessible book on the charcuterie kitchen.  Those who invested in previous Culinary works have come to expect professional cooking courses in each book.  The Art of Charcuterie does not disappoint.    The Art of Charcuterie begins at square-one, kitchen safety.  You are given an overview of food hazards, cross contamination, and general safety.  Better, you are also taught techniques to minimize food born illness.  For example, instead of just describing how to...
(read more)

Very Good Carving Fork

Posted

Pros: Sharp and sturdy

Cons: None really

This is one of those items that really does not have many defects or disadvantages.  Its sleek sharp design is great for your slicing/carving duties.  It looks great and is therefore good for more than just kitchen carving...think tableside carving, catering serving, etc.  Its handle is plastic, but not slippery in my experience. Of course with liquid on the handle, it could become slippery, but with slicing duties, it is less likely.  Great product. 

Good Standard Steel

Posted

Pros: Long length

Cons: Unimpressive plastic handle

It is a great steel for use with all your knives.  Its length is longer than most standard steels that come with your kitchen box sets.  This might make storage a little harder.  Again, it will work great on honing all of your kitchen knives.  The main draw back is only its generic plastic handle.  You don't need and shouldn't expect some sort of impressive handles on steels, but if I had to pick one thing to criticize, this would be the only thing. 
ChefTalk.com › BenRias › Reviews by BenRias