New from #1 New York Times best-selling author Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Chef isn’t just a cookbook. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure guide to the world of rapid learning.
A lifelong non-cook, Ferriss takes you from Manhattan to Okinawa, Silicon Valley to Calcutta, unearthing the secrets of the world’s fastest learners and greatest chefs. He uses cooking to explain “meta-learning,” a step-by-step process that can be used to master anything, whether you're searing a steak or shooting three-pointers. That is the real “recipe” of The 4-Hour Chef.
Featuring tips and tricks from chess prodigies, world-renowned chefs, professional athletes, master sommeliers, supermodels, and everyone in between, this “cookbook for people who don’t buy cookbooks” is a guide to mastering cooking and life.
Here's an excerpt to give you a taste of what Tim Ferriss is cooking.
1979, AGE TWO
I eat my first handful of crickets à la front yard. Life is good.
As a rat-tailed townie in East Hampton, New York, I work at high-priced restaurants catering to the rich and famous. For every Billy Joel who smiles and tips $20 for coffee, there are 20 wannabes with popped collars asking, “Do you know who I am?” I learn to hate restaurants and, by extension, cooking.
To avoid starvation, I buy my first microwave.
Subsisting on microwavable Lean Cuisines, I start watching the Food Network for one to two hours a night to decompress from my startup. Half-asleep one evening, I overhear Bobby Flay say, “Take risks, and you’ll get the payoffs. Learn from your mistakes until you succeed. It’s that simple.” I type this up and put it on my desk for moral support during moments of self-doubt. There will be many.
The 4-Hour Workweek is published after being turned down by 26 publishers. I’m still enjoying the Food Network six years later, but I still haven’t made a single dish.
My friend Jesse Jacobs, a former sous-chef, wants to catch up on business and insists we cook dinner at my place. I respond that he’ll cook and I’ll handle wine. Pointing at the large Le Creuset pot he brought, he starts us off:
in the veggies and potatoes. No need to cut them.” Ten seconds later, check.
“Pour in some olive oil and salt and pepper, and mix everything around.” Ten seconds later, check.
“Now put them in the oven.” Check.
I can’t believe it. “That’s it?” I ask, incredulous.
It’s one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in years. Inspired, I decide to give cooking another chance.
Overwhelmed by contradictory advice, poorly organized cookbooks, and unhelpful instructions (e.g., “cook until done”), I throw in the towel yet again.
I meet my girlfriend, Natasha, who learned how to cook by imitating her grandmother. She decides to teach me how:
this. Now smell this. Do they go together?”
“OK, now smell this and this. Do they go together?”
“Great. That’s cooking.”
I commit to writing a book on learning, using cooking as a vehicle. Fun! My girlfriend can help!
Over the course of one week, I ask my girlfriend “Is this basil?” 20 times. I want to punch myself in the face 20 times. Crisis of meaning. Revisit Bobby Flay quote.
In a hotel in Chicago, I replicate a two-Michelin-star entrée (sea bass, Ibérico ham, watercress, butter, and olive oil) in my hotel bathroom sink with next to nothing: scalding-hot tap water, Ziploc bags, and a cheap Polder thermometer. All is not lost.
I hit the inflection point. At the Polaris Grill in Bellevue, Washington, I am suddenly able to see food in HD—as if someone had handed me prescription glasses and corrected lifelong blurred vision. I can clearly “see” paring through taste and smell, I can tell if the steak is 100% grass-fed or grain-finished, I correctly guess the origins of the Dungeness crab and the wine and the cooking methods for the scallops and pork chops. The waiter asks if I’m a chef (answer: no), and the executive chef comes out to introduce himself. It is otherworldly.
NOVEMBER 24, 2011
I cook Thanksgiving dinner for four people. Graduation day. As a lifelong non-cook, I feel on top of the world.
I start eating crickets again, this time roasted. I’ve rediscovered the wonder of food…and the childlike curiosity I thought I’d lost.