The Best Gets Better
by Kate Heyhoe
Over two decades ago, The Making of a Cook was released, making instant culinary history. Its author, Madeleine Kamman, knew not only how to cook but recognized that the best cooks understand the reasons behind the techniques. The tome included more than just recipes—it was in itself a manual on how to cook, a cooking school bound between covers, but one directed at Americans and the wide range of fresh ingredients available in North America.
Again, Ms. Kamman has made history with this impressive updated edition, The New Making of a Cook: The Art, Techniques and Science of Good Cooking. Its 1200 pages and 200 illustrations incorporate modern healthy cooking as well as classic methods. It's been on every list of top cookbook releases for the past several months and was recently honored as a finalist in the Julia Child Cookbook Awards.
Since the original book's release, our levels of sophistication in both the kitchen and at the table have become more developed. Quick 'n easy cookbooks will always be popular, but lately I've seen the emergence of a whole new wave of cookbooks that devote themselves as much to cooking principles—why things work and don't work—as they do modern recipes. In fact, the recipes are included mainly to illustrate the principles involved. Besides the expansive The New Making of a Cook, general books like Shirley Corriher's CookWise and Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques demonstrate that anyone can cook like a pro—if you understand the secrets behind the methods. (Note: I'm pleased to say that all these books are being awarded as prizes in this month's Gourmet Guess contest.)
A few years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Kamman and I asked her how she ended up in the kitchen, to which she replied:
"The Germans having chased us out of Paris, we took refuge with my great aunt in the Loire Valley. She owned a Michelin-starred restaurant and I cooked there three months out of each year from 1940 to 1955, the date of her passing away. The important point with me is that I stayed in the kitchen after all those years. When this happened I was entering my thirties and my interest turned into a fierce passion, that was tied to the fact that being isolated from my mother country I felt happy while I was cooking, so I continued, then started to teach in 1962 in my home."
She has continued to teach—through books and classes—and has influenced many a professional and amateur chef alike, particularly at her prestigious School for American Chefs at Beringer Vineyards. The New Making of a Cook has taken up permanent residence in my kitchen, and while I have yet to read all 1200 pages, I find myself constantly referring to chapters and subjects as I need them. I think you'll see from the profile presented in this issue of the electronic Gourmet Guide that this compendium of culinary knowledge has already established itself as a classic reference for all serious cooks.
The New Making of a Cook
The Art, Techniques, and Science of Good Cooking
by Madeleine Kamman
Oct. 1997, $40 hardcover
Information provided by the publisher.
Recipes and Excerpts
Other Madeline Kamman books:
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