May 29, 2019

Beaten, Seared and Sauced

by JOnathan Dixon

A decade after Michael Ruhlman went to the Culinary Institute of America to write Making Of A Chef, magazine writer Michael Dixon makes the same journey in order to change careers. He’s been miserable at Martha Stewart, he’s not setting the world on fire as a freelancer, he’s pretty sure his girlfriend is a better writer than he is, and he’s hoping to find his calling in cooking school.

It’s an interesting contrast. Ruhlman was on assignment, and he needed to finish quickly because he desperately needed the second half of the advance. But Ruhlman, along the way, also found a vocation. Dixon, on the other hand, went looking for a vocation and not, it seems, a book: at any rate, Ruhlman is always reporting, interviewing his fellow students, interviewing his teachers, interrogating the food. Dixon records himself as very much in the moment. That might have made this second book more vivid, but there's just not enough background and detail about his fellow students, their struggles and their stories, and there's really not enough color in the food. Still, it's a very enjoyable school story with an excellent intermezzo about an externship gone wrong.