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on 23 January 2004
As a chef, I found this to be one of the most useful books I own - for technique it is always the first one I reach for. It gives you a very thorough grounding in the fundamentals - e.g. stocks, sauces, bread, pasta, baking - which you can then build upon. It is an excellent alternative to cookery courses. Compared to £20K for a cookery course, this book starts to look like extremely good value!

It covers subjects such as making bread, pasta and sauces in more depth than any other book I have seen, and it tells you what to watch out for, as well as what has gone wrong when the recipe does not turn out as expected. The book contains hundreds of valuable recipes but they are (very sensibly) for each fundamental technique (bread recipes, stock recipes etc.) rather than recipes for 'main courses' like most books.

The book is certainly not only for professionals - it is of just as much value to home chefs as it demystifies so many subjects and gives you so many fundamental 'building block' recipes.

Despite being vegetarian, I have found that most of the book is still relevant and seems to provide well for vegetarian alternatives - I was pleased to find a recipe for 'brown vegetable stock' for making gravies etc!

One aside though - if you only ever buy one cookery book, make it Leith's 'Cookery Bible' - it contains a lot of the information in the 'techniques bible' but also nearly every recipe you will ever need.

Many thanks to Leith's!
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on 12 April 2013
I bought the book as a hobby home cook looking for a comprehensive "course" of the essential cooking techniques. I was looking for the techniques (for example, how to cut certain meats) as opposed to simply recipes. The book itself is probably best described as a textbook or reference book. It is very big at 800 pages, and its size and paperback cover do make it slightly kitchen unfriendly.

I will say that the book is very comprehensive (I am sure most of the techniques used by chefs are listed here). The problem lies with how this information is arranged. Disappointingly, despite the book's title the bulk of the book is made up of recipes, with the actual "techniques" dotted around in between. The techniques themselves are either described by text alone or with small "outline" drawings (about the size of a postage stamp). I believe with a skill as practical as cooking, these basic drawings probably aren't going to be enough to demonstrate the more technical skills (something more dynamic like photographs is needed for these).

The layout as well can be a bit strange as it is arranged alphabetically. This means for example, that you are taken from a section on Meat to a section on Meringue (fillet of Beef with Eton Mess anyone?!). Whilst I appreciate this was probably done for speed of reference, I would have liked the book to have been arranged by themes or dishes (e.g. starters, mains, desserts) .

I would definitely recommend this book for intermediate-professional chefs or advanced-amateur chefs looking for a quick reference or a refresher on techniques. I think the book is probably going to be bit difficult to use (and too vague on the technical side) for novice chefs. It is a book to be dipped into, rather than a "course" in technique. I would recommend beginners look for books like The Cooks' Bible; whilst considerably less comprehensive then the Leiths book (and probably too basic for professional chefs), it has a higher technique to recipe ratio, and the techniques are clearly demonstrated with large colour photographs.
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on 8 December 2004
The best cooking book I ever read. Filled with explanations and techniques. take your time to read every chapter over and over and you'll be surprised the new things you learn every time you read it. Almost all the basics are here, don't look any further
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on 6 October 2009
This book is just what its title suggests and is an invaluable reference book.

The first part covers nutrition, safety, quantities, menu planning, equipment, knife skills etc. Part Two has 57 sections in alphabetical order from 'Aspic' through 'Chocolate', 'Herbs', 'Meat', 'Pastry' and 'Sauces' to 'Vegetables'. Each section starts with basic scientific and nutritional information before preparation, cooking and storage are discussed. Many varied cooking techniques for each food type follow. For example in the Sauces section, 63 savoury mother and daughter sauces are mentioned. Each cooking technique is accompanied by a useful and down-to-earth 'What has gone wrong when...'section. Although there are many recipes in the book, this is not a recipe book. It is firmly focussed on the techniques to get the best results and the recipes are just exemplars for food types or techniques. The final short part includes a glossary, conversion tables, bibliography and an index of recipes.

The book has only black and white line drawings but this does not detract.

I bought this book as I wanted to lift my self-taught, reasonably competent cooking skills to the next level. I have enjoyed reading the Techniques Bible as a book and have also been dipping into it when I have been preparing specific foods, to try to pick up hints and tips. If you plan to own only one cookery book, this is probably not the one for you but if you have endless recipe books and have space for a really good techniques book I thoroughly recommend it. I can see myself using this as my main reference book for many years.
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on 10 August 2005
Included in the Waitrose Food Illustrated List of 10 Most Useful Cookbooks Ever, Leiths Techniques Bible is just that. Here all the expertise of Leiths legendary cookery school is condensed into a no-nonsense manual. With hundreds of recipes it is the perfect book for both the beginning cook and the experienced chef. The beauty of the volume is that it arms you with the basics you need to be able to use other recipe books well. The layout is incredibly clear and the panels on 'What has gone wrong when...' make it really user friendly.
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VINE VOICEon 11 February 2007
My reason for purchasing this book was to break away from most cook books that teach you little more than how to replicate a certain recipe. I wanted to spread my culinary wings and have some useful knowledge to allow me to "go it alone" and this was recommended to me. Alas I found this book dissapointing from that perspective.

The book does contain some techniques, and it does have a useful few lines after each section tellling you "what went wrong if", however I found the book in general to be more of a history of certain ingredients followed by pages and pages of recipes. The so called "techniques" are rarely encountered and too poorly illustrated to allow you to actually learn whats being described.

There are very useful sections on menu creation, kitchen planning and time planning. The sections on equipment and preparation are frankly awesome. If the authors applied that level of attention to the recipes I would be a happy bunny. If it included chapters on techniques rather than the odd paragraph and clear colour photos rather than line drawings I would have happily paid twice RRP for it.

As it is, the book will be an expensive reference piece sitting on my book shelf. It will absolutely come in handy for you, however if you want a book that will teach you the fundamentals of cooking (rather than recipe recreation) then I would suggest you look elsewhere.
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on 5 July 2011
I spent ages wanting this book and finally got it last Christmas from my brother-in-law (a frequent cooking partner). Now that I finally have it, I don't know why I didn't just go out and buy it sooner.

There aren't many recipes in the book and that is EXACTLY what I was hoping for. I have a shelf of books telling me the exact measurements to put in each recipe but never explaining the why or wherefore. As we use a lot of 'substitute ingredients' in our house which all respond in different ways to 'standard ingredients'; I love that I can quickly and easily reference the background behind the idea I'm going for, adjust accordingly for ingredients, that may require additional moisture for example, and create something delicious.

I never follow a recipe word for word. This gives me the freedom to explore substitutions and alterations while expanding my somewhat limited knowledge of all things culinary.
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on 17 May 2013
This book has no lifestyle related photos or context. The recipes have always been good and worked well. I feel like these are the recipes at the best and purest, before any tv chefs have added any of their own, personal twists to them.
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on 20 December 2014
I have used it at least once a week since I bought it three years ago - incredible. Absolutely the best cookery book I own.
The best bit, is the explanations of what has gone wrong and why, after each recipe. Brilliant!
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on 11 October 2013
This book is brilliant, it covers all of the fundamentals. Being more of a chef-by-feel this has taken my cooking up a level. What I find most useful is the fact that the book tells you what to look for when things have gone wrong. That means that I now understand how I've broken a recipe and can do it differently next time.

Before this it was a case of simply giving up and sometimes not trying a recipe again.

Also, knowing how the fundamentals work gives you great confidence when "adapting" recipes as you know what things will fundamentally work, and what not.

Definitely recommended.
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