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Sacré Cordon Bleu [Paperback]

Michael Booth
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 14 Feb 2008 --  

Book Description

14 Feb 2008

Michael Booth has had his fill of celebrity chefs and their recipes. He wants to know how to cook, not just to follow recipes. So, he burns his cookery books and, together with his young family, heads for a new life in Paris - reasoning that, if anyone can be trusted to make food complicated, it's the French.

He embarks on the ultimate foodie fantasy, enrolling at the world's most famous cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu, whose wise and cranky French chefs begin to transform him into a professional, tutoring him in the fascinating, bizarre and occasionally arcane ways of classical French cooking. Meanwhile, he and his family try to adjust to the challenges of life in Paris: dealing with the park Nazis, sweet-talking the Metro police and trying not to look when the neighbours start having sex out of their window.

In this riveting and hilarious book Booth introduces us to his fellow food-obsessed students from around the world; meets Gerard Depardieu (who reveals why you should never eat vegetables from his grandmother's garden); and hears the extraordinary predictions of the future of food from Hervé This, the founding father of molecular gastronomy.

Booth shares with us the secrets of his training at Le Cordon Bleu and of French cooking itself, explaining how to make the perfect sauce; the secret of great stocks; how to win a fight with a lobster; and how to avoid maiming yourself while cleaning your knives. He explores how France rose to culinary pre-eminence and asks if Paris still deserves its reputation as the culinary capital of the world.

Following both traumas and unexpected triumphs at school, Booth embarks on the ultimate chef's challenge, he goes to work at the Michelin-starred Paris restaurant of the most famous chef in France, Joël Robuchon.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; 1st Edition Thus edition (14 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224077961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224077965
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Booth is an award winning English author and journalist.

He has written five books: 'Just As Well I'm Leaving - To the Orient with Hans Christian Andersen', which was nominated for an Irish Times first time author award; 'Sacré Cordon Bleu', a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week; 'Sushi and Beyond', which won a Guild of Food Writers award and has recently become a best seller in translation in Japan; 'Eat, Pray, Eat', which was nominated for a British Press Award; and the forthcoming 'The Almost Nearly Perfect People - The Truth About the Nordic Miracle'.

He has written for all of the UK broadsheet newspapers, as well as numerous magazines in the UK and abroad including Condé Nast Traveller and Monocle, for whom he is currently a correspondent. His books have been translated into several languages.

He is married with two sons.

Product Description


Mail on Sunday `...the most enjoyable book about food I've read since Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential' The Daily Telegraph `Michael Booth's entertaining romp through Parisian kitchen life' Time Out ' sharp as a Michelin chef's collection of knives... A flavoursome offering.' Bookseller `hysterically funny account of an English cook's experiences at the Cordon Bleu in Paris...Bill Bryson for gastronerds...I loved it' Metro `fast-paced, laugh-a-page...[with] more tips than a library of Gordon Ramsay books' The London Paper 'Hilarious account of a Brit chef's time at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.' The Good Book Guide 'Mouth-watering and hilarious'

Book Description

An amateur English cook moves to Paris and enrols at France's - and the world's - most famous cookery school.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most amusing 20 May 2009
I loved the book - it really made me laugh and the author's enjoyment and fulfilment in doing the course shone through. It's also a book that I've re-read in parts quite frequently for sheer enjoyment, and the author comes across not only as the ideal dinner party cook but also as guest. That said, the recipes were a bit unnecessary, and the book would have benefited from providing more of a critique of the school and its approach to cooking. The "manifesto" at the end could also have been expanded, although that might have sat rather uneasily with the light-hearted nature of the rest of the book.

Anyone tempted to follow in the author's footsteps should realise that taking the same courses would incur tuition fees of over 22000! That's on top of living costs, and at the end of it you are qualified to work in a kitchen on the minimum wage!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make sure your lobster doesn't escape! 21 Mar 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
From the first page of this book I was hooked. Imagine giving up everything including your cookery book collection and taking your family to live in France whilst you learn to cook at the best cookery school in the world - Le Cordon Bleu. Michael Booth spoke very little French when he moved to Paris but he wanted to learn to cook from the best in the world. Read about his fellow students from all over the world, the eccentric chefs and the escaping lobsters. The sentence that sticks in my mind is a description of a lobster wriggling like 'a knight with ants in his armour'. If you're even vaguely interested in cooking or Paris - read this book. There are some recipes as well, but it's the tips you pick up which are useful - for example always let meat rest for half as long as you've cooked it for. If you love chocolate you'll drool over the short course he did in chocolate making. Brilliant
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's all go to Culinary School and write a book 17 Jun 2008
It's not a bad read and he sums up his feeling about cooking in a professional kitchen very well, but I don't need a lesson in stock-making or the Maillard reaction from someone at a cookery school. The recipes are pretty useless. but that's not the reason to buy this book.

The one reason you would not buy this book is that it has to be the most shoddily put together publication I have ever read. Doesn't anyone proof-read the book before it goes to press. There were times when I literally had to decipher what had been written. I'm sure that this isn't Michael Booth's fault, but someone at Jonathan Cape needs to learn their job.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best culinary books around 4 Oct 2008
For anybody that is interested in becoming a chef this is a must read. In the same vain as any of Anthony Bourdain's non-fiction books Sacre Cordon Bleu gives the reader a first hand insight into life in a profesional kitchen. I love cooking and, like Michael Booth once did(!), have a large collection of cookery books. Although I am not a profesional I feel I have reached the limit of working through recipes. I learnt more about food from this book than any of my cookery books. The only downside to this book is that it reconfirmed my experience and views of turning, for want of a better word, a hobby into a job. I would love to be a profesional chef but have yet to find a sain reason to give up my career to follow my passion. I feel like Booth has lived this for me. "Any chef who says he does it for the love is a liar" MPW
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Ratatouille' revisited 10 Mar 2008
Thoroughly enjoyable book that makes you immediately want to move to Paris. I don't know if burning your cook book collection is warranted, but Michael Booth certainly makes the case for good old fashioned french cuisine and trainng. Well written, entertaining, and manages to avoid the more nauseating traits of the 'I moved to france/paris/provence etc.' and he doesn't patronise the natives. The author manages to both engage your interest and remain likeable. Not sure whether on one book he can quite earn the Bill Bryson title, but he sure makes me wish for that small(ish) lottery win to follow in his footsteps. As an interesting follow on classic french cuisines try Jacques Pepin's 'The Apprentice' or as a complete contrast in style at the other end of the french food lover's spectrum, Anthony Bourdin's Les Halles Cookbook.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must read! 26 Feb 2008
I loved this book, it's refreshing, hugely entertaining and you get some really good advice too!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book but now I own it twice !! 8 Jun 2009
This is a great read, indeed in the vein of Bill Bryson's travelbooks. However, Amazon should mention that this is just a retitled version of "What the french know about cooking" !! After reading that one I decided to buy the other 3 titles by the author and found out I already owned this one! Also, wherever french is used in the names of the dishes, it contains errors ...
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2.0 out of 5 stars Bit boring 21 Mar 2014
By AnnM52
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I did not enjoy this book very much. I disagreed with most of what the author had to say and at times felt quite irritated by it. But that's just my personal view, others may love it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable but...
An enjoyable read for anyone that loves beautiful food and is not knowledgeable about classical French cooking. Read more
Published on 30 July 2010 by J.G. Tarr
4.0 out of 5 stars French holiday from a cooks viewpoint
Worthwhile read. Not too intense as some of this genre can be. Interesting and provocative. Told me things I had not known in a pleasent
Published on 3 Jan 2009 by ingram
4.0 out of 5 stars A very real experience at Le Cordon Bleu
Many reviewers already pointed out that this book is hugely entertaining and the writing about cooking and food can be torturing - unless one has already booked the next great... Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2008 by Cooking student
5.0 out of 5 stars almost as good as eating
what a lovely book, I enjoyed it from the first page to the last. Michael booth is obviously very pasionate about food and he makes you want to leave everything and go to France to... Read more
Published on 13 May 2008 by Cervantes
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on food in years - highly recommendable!
This is such a refreshing new take on the whole food genre, and the best book on food I've read since "Kitchen Confidential" - and far more entertaining at that. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2008 by Corto
5.0 out of 5 stars A seriously well written and very, very funny book full of great...
I completely recognise the authors desire to go beyond recipe-cooking, and I find the whole journey of insight into real cooking very inspiring and educating. Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2008 by Stephan Sander
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