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.