• The Soul of a Chef

  • The Journey Toward Perfection
  • By: Michael Ruhlman
  • Narrated by: Donald Corren
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (991 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In his second in-depth foray into the world of professional cooking, Michael Ruhlman journeys into the heart of the profession. Observing the rigorous Certified Master Chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America, the most influential cooking school in the country, Ruhlman enters the lives and kitchens of rising star Michael Symon and the renowned Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. This fascinating audiobook will satisfy any listener's hunger for knowledge about cooking and food, the secrets of successful chefs, at what point cooking becomes an art form, and more.

Like Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef, this is an instant classic in food writing - one of the fastest growing and most popular subjects today.

©2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.; 2001 Michael Ruhlman

What listeners say about The Soul of a Chef

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good Fun, Even if You Don't Cook!

I'm not a Kitchen Goddess, rather silly, actually (Seriously--I recently ordered Seared Ahi Tuna and discovered... that sucker's RAW!). But even I know about tension, failure, boisterous personalities, and the drive for perfection. "The Soul of a Chef" chronicles all that and then some.
We open to the enormous pressure to become a Certified Master Chef, follow with a wonderful chef who just makes you feel good, and end with the near perfection of The French Laundry (this latter part, by the way, was the only part I felt that made the book drag a bit).
Along the way is the devastation of having a PERFECT Duck Tureen that is OH NO! Spoiled by unfortunate knife skills. Humidity causing Crepe Crises! Overcooked pasta (Blasphemy! And: The delivery guy can wait... pasta can't)! Respecting food so much that you'll kill your own rabbits, thank you very much (Note: Rabbits scream).
And food combinations that'll have you scratching your head. Only dreamers and geniuses think like that, and God bless them, they're usually right.
Add to this an author whose own studies of cooking have him hungry (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) to seek out food, cooking, creatives, misery and you have a winner of a book. Especially since, when out with one of the most famous food critics, all he can think of is, "I've GOTTA remember to say that next time I'm out," you know you're in the hands of someone who can laugh at himself.
Except for the last part dragging a bit, it's a veritable love song to Thomas Keller, this is a fun book that'll have you cheering for the underdog, groaning when heat makes the shell of the creme brulee soft, and wishing that every chef, sous chef, line cook you know has such wonderful heart. Fine narration, great content, and may I say it? My stomach growled...

28 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Surprisingly good!

I was worried when this book started out as I was thinking it was just another book trying to capitalize on the reality show / Iron Chef craze. The beginning covers the Master Chef exam and was like that. So, initially I was turned off but then the author began to detail a chef, really getting into the person behind the title. He then covered another, the head chef of the French Laundry in Napa Valley. The horizon of cooking then just really began to open through masterful story development. It helps that Michael Ruhlman actually went to the CIA, took classes and has developed a real insight into the craft of cooking and chefs.
The narration was excellent, a good narrator really opens up a book as it should be.
I highly recommend this book.

24 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Mouth-watering good

"The Soul of a Chef" tries to continue where "The Making of a Chef" ends... from learning to be a chef to becoming an executive chef. However, unlike his earlier book, this book does follow the journey of one person. It's more like three novellas in one book, not necessarily a bad thing but not a singular story as the title suggest.

The author's style is entertaining and vivid... the preparation of the dishes are described in mouth-watering details. If you are in awe of Thomas Keller and the French Laundry, the third section will elevate that appreciation even more. Thomas Keller thinks about food to levels probably no other chefs think about. In other restaurants, asparagus laid flat in a tray. At the French Laundry, they are tied in a bunch sitting in water. Every little thing matters for Thomas Keller.

7 people found this helpful

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great work poor pronunciation

Love michael but the readers really need to be rehearsed in the proper pronunciation of culinary jargon. I cringe every time I hear "coooulinary", "stAAAge", or "fAeva bean."
it really takes the romance out of a truely poetic description. tho, I truely love the applied accents, nestalgic reminder of my late mother's bed time stories. on an a idditional note, I would find the collaboration by a musical sound designer most appealing.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Makes Me Wanna Cook

What did you love best about The Soul of a Chef?

The thing liked about this book is the subject. Cooking is interesting, the mindset is fascinating and the CSI is mystical. The thing I loved about The Soul of a Chef is the believable peek behind the curtain.

What other book might you compare The Soul of a Chef to and why?

"Life on the Line" is a book I might compare based on the detail regarding the inner workings of a professional kitchen and the conviction it takes to succeed. Likewise, "Butter, Bones & Butter" for the life psychology and growth as young cooks make their way from inauspicious beginnings.

What aspect of Donald Corren’s performance would you have changed?

Corren's read was flat for my tastes. Not a lot of dynamic range or inflection in the reading. Where some voice actors can make you forget your listening to a reader and transport you through the eyes of the writer, Donald Corren did not do this for me.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

If The Soul' were to be made into a movie, the tagline could be "Brown Sauce, Taste It!"

Any additional comments?

The subject of the book made it compelling. Props to Ruhlman for being so dedicated to seeing the challenge through, but I do wish he had a bit more dynamic presence in his writing. The voicing didn't help. Hence the 4 stars.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Ex
  • 08-16-16

great writing, interesting point of view

fantastic book. the writing is excellent and really puts the reader in the author's place. great sense of the life and drive of a chef and what it takes to succeed in such a business.

also fantastic to hear about now-famous chefs before they were anybody were good, upstanding people.

3 people found this helpful

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Great!

I loved this, found myself telling my wife about the various life experiences in this work. Very well narrated!

3 people found this helpful

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It all comes together

It took awhile to get into. I found the whole first part rather boring, but then parts 2 and 3 were fantastic and brought in elements from part 1, which made it all worth it. I love hearing about food and cooking and the heart behind accomplished chefs, so I it was a fun read.

3 people found this helpful

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Not what I was expecting

This book was not what I expected, but I seriously enjoyed it. it begins with an observation of the Certified Master Chef exam, them jumps into a personal look at, and conversations with, America's two most exciting chefs: Michael Symon and Thomas Keller. I loved this read.

2 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 01-27-15

McPhee-esp

The author ties together explorations of several chefs and types of cooking to explore what makes (one type of) greatness in the culinary world.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel Piñero
  • 08-29-16

Annoying imitation of foreign accents

Good book, but more philosophical and introspective than "The Making of a Chef", which I prefer. However, what really turnes me off is the caricaturization of foreign accents in this narrated version, specifically for French chefs. Totally uncalled for. Also the dramatization was over the top some points. The first book was narrated by other person, who didn't have to imitate foreign accents to deliver the story.