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4.7 out of 5 stars34
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 April 2011
I liked the programme and I find the instructions in the book easy to follow. So many recipe books assume the home cook knows complicated cookery procedures and terms, but this one does not.
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on 12 March 2011
In the interests of a complete review of this title I forced myself to watch an episode of Channel 4's epic 50-part daytime show Cookery School in which ordinary cooks apparently get turned into great chefs by Michelin-starred Richard Corrigan and Leith's trained cookery mentor Gizzi Erskine.

The title promises instruction to cuisine yet in the desserts episode I watched, not a lot of teaching appears to be going on. The cameras are more interested in showing contestants flustered and failing (over quite basic techniques) and Corrigan and Erskine displaying more cruelty than critique.

What makes predictable formulaic TV actually translates very well in Penguin's series tie-in book. With recipes credited to Richard Corrigan, I suspect much of the text is ghost written and Erskine's presence is limited to a couple of photos and having her name above some tips pages.

That said, this is an informative book that will challenge most home cooks to try out new techniques and less obvious ingredients. There are lots of step by step photos and plenty of detail to talk you through. I also like how many recipes indicate in bullet points which skills you are utilising.

Sections are broken down into starters, fish, meat and desserts and further still into basic, intermediate and advanced. Ultimately there is the super advanced section featuring recipes from other chefs including Nobu's Mark Edwards and Cake Boy's Eric Lanlard.

The how-to picture guides cover skills such as ravioli with home made pasta, tempura batter, making a tea smoker, prepping ingredients such as fish, meat and fruits and baking madeleines.

Writing as someone reasonably experienced cooking cakes and desserts, the super advanced puddings are no more testing than you'd get set by The Daring Kitchen (an internationally popular monthly baking blog challenge). The tipsy trifle, for example, calls for home made jelly with real fruit and gelatine, your own sponge, custard and whisky cream. None of which is difficult but it's pushing you to make components yourself instead of cutting corners.

A how-to picture guide to making the spun sugar featured alongside Eric Lanlard's "super advanced" apple souffles is a frustrating omission. A 4 line explanation of this is inadequate in a book that finds space to tell you how to remove the core from a pear and slice apples. Surely anyone can work out how to de-core fruit yet I'd defy anyone to work out how to spin sugar without help.

However, as a rounded cookery book, this gives the detail you might have found in a 1980s Readers' Digest part work but in a far sexier format. This is a book I will definitely turn to for expanding my repertoire when trying to cook chef-ier starter and main courses.

Some input from higher profile chefs would have been nice, a couple of the choices seem quite obscure to me, it also looks like Erskine might have been drafted in last minute before publication else surely someone usually so photogenic would have been utilised more even if her own cookery skills were not taking centre stage.

Verdict - Don't waste your time on the TV series but the book is well structured and has much to teach.
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on 15 May 2011
Does exactly the same as it says on the tin! If you watched the series on Ch 4 & liked most of the recipes, then this book is a great help to recreating those fantasic dishes! Although, I did notice, that there were some minor differences in some of the preperation of the dishes; but, if you're passionate about food & cooking, eventually, you'll give both ways a try & see which is best for you! If you haven't seen the series & just love cooking - get this book! The layout is great; for each section of the book there is a skill set, (which teaches you knife skills, how to's & to make those basic things like sauces & much more). This one is a must for any level of cooking! Enjoy!
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on 11 April 2011
I'm a dedicated foodie and have hundreds of cookbooks. I tend to buy new books for their inspiration rather than actual recipes, but this one is different.

I've recorded the Cookery School series on my Sky box, and so read the recipes while watching the demonstrations. What's great about the book is the guidance with regard to what mistakes are commonly made, so you can avoid them. The other unusual aspect is that the book contains detailed guidance on the techniques used. This is particularly useful where the presentation requires some butchery skills, for example.

All in all an excellent book that I can heartily recommend.
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on 11 May 2011
I recorded and watched the Channel 4 series and loved it much more than the other cookery programmes I've seen including Masterchef which used to be my favourite so I had to buy the book. I liked Richard Corrigan's passion for food and his approach to everything he did. I have several older cook books but like this one much more as it's beatifully presented with colour photographs to show you what to achieve and recipes for basic, intermediate and advanced levels so anyone can use it. It came at a good price and well packaged and is my favourite cook book at present.
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on 24 October 2011
A superb book with wonderful recipes for those who aspire to do better. I used not to like Richard Corrigan because I felt that he was somewhat abrasive and lacking in charisma. The recent Cookery School though showed me a very different side of him and his profound passion for producing delicious and imaginative food has certainly won me over as has his sincere desire to help others to learn, to experience, and to excel. The book contains so many of the delicious recipes which I saw tried and tested on TV and I shall certainly do my best to reproduce these in my kitchen.
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on 10 March 2011
What a great book! I love the step by step recipes and how wonderful to be able to get straight into real, proper cooking not the normal beginner meals. I would highly recommend this teaching tool to not only get you inspired but impress all who you serve!
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on 19 April 2011
The concept behind the Cookery School programme is pretty straightforward - a bunch of 'ordinary' people taught by a couple of professionals how to cook - from the basic through to the more advanced dishes.

Whether the format of the show works, it's difficult to say. It's probably one of the longest cooking series ever, what with it being an hour long, every week day for 10 weeks - so if you really want to go through the 'course' with them, you'd have to be in it for the long haul! I only managed 20 minutes of one episode before switching off, hoping that the cookbook might work better instead.

The contents listing seems confused at first glance. There are five main sections, with the first four headed up under Starters, Fish, Meat and Puddings. These are each broken down into subsections of Basic, Intermediate and Advanced dishes. But then this structure seems to turn back on itself with the fifth main section headed as Super Advanced, and broken down into subsections of Starters, Mains and Puddings. Still following?

There is then a separate listing for all the various skills and techniques taught throughout the book. The step-by-step photos and instructions themselves are well laid out, but the actual skills covered is a frustrating list as a whole. They are confined by the recipes chosen for the book, and although that sounds logical, the list itself is not as comprehensive as you'd expect from a book with a title like this. Learning to peel prawns, joint a chicken and make fresh pasta, yes. Making a smoker with tea and sugar? Perhaps not such a core skill to learn.

Having said that, the how-to steps and recipes themselves are very easy to follow. Even in the Super Advanced section, where you are told in a whopping number of 18 steps how to make a trifle (ok, so it's a fancy-looking trifle, but still), I doubt you would get lost and confused in the process. But you'd definitely need the time and patience to see yourself through it.

I was itching to try out a main dish, simply because I tend to bake a lot and wanted the excuse to make something different. However, the recipes tend to err on the showy side so aren't really the kind of dishes that you'd randomly choose to dish up for yourself, and many of them contain ingredients that you wouldn't exactly buy on a whim.

Perhaps I'm just not 'ready' to advance to such recipes, but there was just something a bit too alien about the execution of the whole concept. The title suggests that 'anyone can learn to cook', but simply feels far too thin on the basics, and escalates a little too quickly onto the advanced.
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on 18 October 2011
Richard is teaching you step by step and tells you
lots of secrets how to do really fine dishes. I like it very much because of the honesty and the passion for cooking. It is not a "bla bla" Book.
Sorry for my English, but I think you know what I mean.
Happy Elke
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on 30 May 2011
Whether you can cook or not this book is for you,it is brilliant so easy to follow. I have made most of the recipes and not one failed. It would make a great pressi for anyone getting married or a brill stocking filler. cant wait for the next series.
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