The author of The Soul of a Chef looks at the new role of the chef in contemporary culture
For his previous explorations into the restaurant kitchen and the men and women who call it home, Michael Ruhlman has been described by Anthony Bourdain as "the greatest living writer on the subject of chefs, and on the business of preparing food." In The Reach of a Chef, Ruhlman examines the profound shift in American culture that has raised restaurant cooking to the level of performance art and the status of the chef to celebrity CEO. Bibliophiles and foodies alike will savor this intimate meeting with some of the most famous chefs in the kitchens of the hottest restaurants in the world.
There's no rest for the restaurateur in Ruhlman's engaging account of a culinary world that's become even more frenetic in the wake of the Food Network's success and the rise of celebrity chefs desperately clinging to their stars. Ruhlman (The Making of a Chef; The Soul of a Chef) revisits some of the people he's worked with in the past and the school where he trained to see how things have changed since "chef branding, with its product lines, multiple name recognized restaurants, and entertainment venues, has lured the chef out of the kitchen." Ruhlman points out the irony of such chefs as Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and Anthony Bourdain becoming so successful that they no longer have time to practice the thing that brought them success in the first place. He solicits opinions on the phenomenon from an array of people in the business and also profiles some of those still shaping American cooking in the kitchen, from Melissa Kelly and her down-to-earth comfort food to Grant Achatz and his avant-garde, technical creations. Ruhlman has a light, unobtrusive style, and he brings considerable knowledge to the table when commenting on either individual dishes or the industry as a whole. (On sale May 22)