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Pretty soon I’m going to start promoting the new book, The Elements of Cooking—actually, I’ve already started; here’s an essay about why I wrote the book on Amazon.  But, having been recently enthralled by the 127 excellent comments on the cookbook post and so much hunger for fundamentals, I want to link to  Bob del Grosso, who has given an early appraisal of my new book that is so resounding—“clearly the work of someone who has spent many years cooking,” Bob writes, “thinking about cooking and synthesizing what he experienced into a coherent philosophical outlook”—that I want to link to it here.  Bob was one of my first chefs at the CIA who taught me ways of thinking about food, so his words are especially gratifying.  I respect Bob so much, in fact, I gave him an early draft of elements and asked him to comment.  He helped me to refine many of the definitions and terms.  While we’ve become friends, as he notes at the end of the review, I don’t think he’d have offered this on his blog had he not believed what he was writing.
    But Bob, am I really thought of as Jimmy Olsen in an Apron?  I’m not sure how to feel about this.

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47 Wonderful responses to “Jimmy Olsen in an Apron?”

  • Natalie Sztern

    It is when I can read an essay such as yours on Amazon, that make me want to read a book written by that author, because with your background and expertise, I can learn.

  • Tags

    Jimmy Olsen from the planet Krypton, but letting Clark Kent (also from Krypton) get all the credit.

  • The Foodist

    Well if food is to you what superman is to Jimmy…well Id have to say its a pretty good analogy.

    Either way, I wouldnt care if he referenced you to the likes of Louis Lane, Id still read the book.

  • Charlotte

    This is exactly what I want — a book of methods, of elements. I’ll cook from a recipe the first time — for instance, I’ll follow the pancetta recipe exactly — but what I always want is the kind of methodology that allows one to just cook, to cook lovely food for the people one loves. Speaking of methodologies — my sweetie offered me some moose liver today — he and his son killed one this morning — any ideas?

  • Kitt

    Moose liver??? I’ll bet the dog would love it.

    Can’t wait to peruse “The Elements.”

    (Thanks for linking to that video about the disaster for Wisconsin organic farmers, btw. Heartbreaking.)

  • RI Swampyankee

    re: your Amazon essay

    For what it’s worth, Michael, you crossed the line long before that blizzard. The storm was the cosmic dope slap that told your head what your heart already knew.

  • Bob delGrosso

    I was trying to make a humorous metaphor that described your perennial boyish enthusiasm for the subject of cooking, while simultaneously attempting to rebuke
    imaginary charges of dilettantism of yourself. If anyone really thinks of you as Jimmy Olsen in an apron, I’m not aware of it.

    I think the rhetorical set-up worked pretty well, but when I think about why I did it, I have to wonder if it the ultimate reason wasn’t a blown head-gasket.

  • JoP in Omaha

    I am so looking forward to this book. In your essay, you wrote: “I wanted to write a book that would have told me….everything I needed to know in order to learn the rest.” Wow. That’s just what I need now.

    Friday night, I had dinner at one of the very few (they can be counted on less than one hand) FINE restaurants in Omaha, namely Darwin Bistro. The cooks (and all the staff, I think) are from Omaha’s Culinary Institute. No, it’s not on the map, but I think it provides decent training. I came away from that meal with an ache in my soul. I so want to be able to cook like that, and for the past several months, I’ve been trying hard to learn on my own. My meal at the Bistro showed me what my goal is, but without structure, without direction and guidance, it’s so difficult–and discouraging sometimes. But I buck up and keep on going because there’s joy in my successes and even in my failures–if I can identify at least some of what went wrong. Ruhlman, it sounds like “Elements” will be a becon to help guide me along the way.

    I, too, am thankful for that snowstorm. I’m glad you got through it without mishap and note with mystical interest that effects of that storm are far reaching. First, it changed your life, and in turn, the work you’ve done since has changed other lives…mine, for example. First, the storm, then your books on cooking and chefdom and the cookbooks (especially the French Laundry Cookbook), and now, here I am in my kitchen trying to learn how to cook good ingredients well. If it weren’t for that snowstorm, I’d still be satisfied with frozen TV dinners. No longer.

    Thanks, Ruhlman.

  • Skawt

    We need to buy Ruhlman a signal watch so he can summon Thomas Keller in the event of a culinary emergency.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Jimmy Olsen? Na, I’m not buying it. I’m thinking you’re Clark Kent himself, given your ability to morph from man-on-the-street reporter to chef (well, you’d say cook) by donning an apron and toque.

  • Tana

    Michael: does anyone here appreciate the balls you have, in daring to thank God on your very thoughtful, very lovely essay?

    You’re Superman, not Jimmy Olsen. It’s why you’re one of my personal heroes: because you dare to be exactly who you are. Seriously. It’s so fashionable to be agnostic or an atheist, and you clearly don’t give a hoot.

    Thanks. As ever. I can’t wait for the book.

  • Kal

    That essay is beautiful, not just in what it says about cooking but also in what it says about writing, and what it is we purveyors of words are trying to do. I can’t wait to read this book.

  • FoodPuta

    You should write a book made up of essay’s like that Michael. (or should we call you Jimmy?)

    If what Bob G. states about the comparison to Charcuterie is true, then I really look forward to this read.

  • rockandroller

    My Amazon wish list is getting full to the point of bursting, thanks for adding to it :)

    I remember the snowstorm story vividly, and I don’t think Jimmy Olsen would have come out to work in that snow storm, he didn’t have the cojones.

  • stephanie

    Sorry, I’m a little comment crazy today, but is it true that there’s a film version planned of “The Making of a Chef” ?!?!?!

    AWESOME if it’s true!

  • ruhlman

    thank you everyone for these comments, and for the great enthusiasm. you make me excited to bring out this book. yes, i’ll be happy to sign and send copies via paypal (and will get this worked out when i get a revamped site taken care of next month). and yes, i’ll be touring most of november, doing a macy’s degustibus demo last week of that month, have been lured into joint gig with Lois (I can only HOPE that he’s sober) at B&N manhattan the next week, and other stops include atlanta and st louis and cincy and san fran and portland (a book fair there, never been and looking forward to it), seattle (including a dinner at serafina, run by my old duke friend john neumark), Vancouver, toronto i think. I’ll have a full sked up with the new site.

    again, many many thanks for these excellent comments.

  • Claudia

    Ahhh . . . would that the Barnes & Noble in Union Square stop on Dec. 7 that Lois’ Kremlinesque speaking agents only darkly hinted at – as they otherwise informed me that they don’t release Lois’ PUBLIC speaking schedule? (You’d think they didn’t want him to move some units!)

  • brandon_w

    I’ll chime in with, No Madison Dates? Boooooo…

    NYC gets everything.

    Other than that I am really excited about the new book. I am currently working through The Making of a Chef and really enjoying it.

  • Claudia

    Pazienza (patience), Brandon. I’m betting Ruhlman is still adding dates to his schedule. Hopefully, places like Peoria, Madison, Columbus, etc., will get Ruhlman (and Bourdain) when they hit the road (and Bourdain’s PR machine isn’t even talking yet – not even to NY or ABOUT any NYC gigs).

    Reporting live from the PR Politburo,

  • JoP in Omaha

    It’s so cool you’ll be doing a book tour and that lots of reader are eagerly awaiting your visit to their city. I’ll try to get my cousin to go to your Seattle appearance.

    And, of course, it would be cool if a Plains state leg were part of the signing tour….say, Omaha (!) which could be followed by stops in Minneapolis, Kansas City, Denver. See? There are a lot of cool cities to visit out here. (I hope your publisher and publicist are listening!)

  • Daaaaave

    Try to stay away from the food whores in Portland that glommed onto Bourdain every step of the way when he was here last year.

  • Hank

    Looks like it could be a fascinating book – my current favorite cookbook is “Cooking by Hand” by Paul Bertolli, which, like what your essay discusses, is more about methods, techniques and themes in Italian cooking than it is a list of recipes (although Bertolli’s are excellent.) Is yours anything like this? I love Charcuterie, and you do have the chops to write a book like Bertolli’s, so I am hoping the book will be useful.

    That said, I am officially petitioning for a Sacramento stop on your tour. We’re not just a cow town any more (or so the Chamber of Commerce says)

    And Charlotte, if you have not yet eaten that moose liver, I’d suggest making a riff off mazzofegati, a Southern Italian liver sausage with orange zest, cinnamon and a bunch of other yummy stuff that is fantastic grilled over hardwoods. I have several recipes if you need them…

  • Hank

    Looks like it could be a fascinating book – my current favorite cookbook is “Cooking by Hand” by Paul Bertolli, which, like what your essay discusses, is more about methods, techniques and themes in Italian cooking than it is a list of recipes (although Bertolli’s are excellent.) Is yours anything like this? I love Charcuterie, and you do have the chops to write a book like Bertolli’s, so I am hoping the book will be useful.

    That said, I am officially petitioning for a Sacramento stop on your tour. We’re not just a cow town any more (or so the Chamber of Commerce says)

    And Charlotte, if you have not yet eaten that moose liver, I’d suggest making a riff off mazzofegati, a Southern Italian liver sausage with orange zest, cinnamon and a bunch of other yummy stuff that is fantastic grilled over hardwoods. I have several recipes if you need them…

  • Kirk

    Two books I’ve given to aspiring professional cooks in the past few years are The Making of a Chef and Daniel Boulud’s Letters to a Young Chef. Other than your latest any other books you’d recommend to those starting along this path?