Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting information, recipes disappointing, 23 April 2013
This review is from: The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life (Official UK Edition) (Paperback)
Overall, I'm glad I bought this book (though wish I hadn't got the kindle version as it's first and foremost a recipe book!) as I learned some new things from it I probably wouldn't have picked up elsewhere. However I don't really think it lives up to the claims that it makes and my experience of the recipes was disappointing.

The book consists of five sections:

1) Meta-learning - about Tim's method of learning things. I am interested in education and found this quite interesting with some great examples, though it certainly leaves lots of questions unanswered. There's less than I expected about his process of learning to cook - there's a bit, but not the sort of detail I was expecting. Likewise, with language learning, it talks about reaching a moderate conversational level in a language and very little about how to move from that stage to real fluency.

2) The Domestic - this is the main part of the book. After a rather US-centric list of equipment and store cupboard essentials to buy, it consists of a plan for learning to cook consisting of 14 lessons each taking about 20 minutes prep with the idea that you do two of the lessons each week, including hosting a dinner party once a month. The general concept is a really good one but I felt it could have been executed much better. I've cooked half a dozen or so recipes and generally haven't been wildly impressed - not sure I'd cook any of them again. There was a bit of a studenty feel about them (but with sometimes quite expensive ingredients!) and the first recipe had a step missing which is pretty much inexcusable in a book billing itself for novice cooks. The recipes also follow Tim's Slow Carb diet, references to which abound throughout the book, so don't expect pasta or the like. I had to skip quite a few of the 'lessons' due to a combination of pregnancy dietary restrictions and a shellfish allergy, so unless you are pretty much omnivorous, be prepared for that possibly being an issue - less of a problem with a normal recipe book than this one where the recipes follow on from eachother as lessons. On the plus side, the recipes are in metric and I didn't find the ingredients a problem as they can be in American recipes books. The lessons are punctuated with sections on all sorts of topics from knife skills to different types of tea. There's quite a geeky feel about these and the book feels very dense with information - I learned some useful things from some of these extra sections and they made it worth buying the book. There was also some good stuff in them that I already knew from cookery courses I had been on etc. but which I imagine that most people might not know.

3) The Wild - this is a section about survival and cooking things you have caught yourself in the wild. Although there were some interesting tidbits, I found this part too specific to the US to really be all that useful (and all that talk of guns, yikes!) as the types of animals etc. you get there are totally different from those here. If you're interested in this, I'm sure you're better off buying a UK-specific book on the topic.

4) The Scientist - a section about molecular gastronomy. I haven't tried anything from this section, but it looks like a very accessible intro to the topic with stuff you can try at home.

5) The Professional - this section is essentially about making meals an experience. It reminded me a lot of The Surreal Gourmet series of books. Again, I haven't tried any of the recipes in this section - things like cauliflower creme brulee, combinations like oyster and kiwi, and roses made from bacon. There's certainly stuff that might be fun to try if you were in the mood - if I had thought more of the earlier recipes in the book, I might have been more likely to give them a go.
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Location: Bedfordshire

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