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Beaten, Seared, and Sauced

On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Millions of people fantasize about leaving their old lives behind, enrolling in cooking school, and training to become a chef. But for those who make the decision, the difference between the dream and reality can be gigantic—especially at the top cooking school in the country. For the first time in the Culinary Institute of America’s history, a book will give readers the firsthand experience of being a full-time student facing all of the challenges of the legendary course in its entirety.

On the eve of his thirty-eighth birthday and after shuffling through a series of unsatisfying jobs, Jonathan Dixon enrolled in the CIA (on a scholarship) to pursue his passion for cooking. In Beaten, Seared, and Sauced he tells hilarious and harrowing stories of life at the CIA as he and his classmates navigate the institution’s many rules and customs under the watchful and critical eyes of their instructors. Each part of the curriculum is covered, from knife skills and stock making to the high-pressure cooking tests and the daunting wine course (the undoing of many a student). Dixon also details his externship in the kitchen of Danny Meyer’s Tabla, giving readers a look into the inner workings of a celebrated New York City restaurant.

With the benefit of his age to give perspective to his experience, Dixon delivers a gripping day-to-day chronicle of his transformation from amateur to professional. From the daily tongue-lashings in class to learning the ropes—fast—at a top NYC kitchen, Beaten, Seared, and Sauced is a fascinating and intimate first-person view of one of America’s most famous culinary institutions and one of the world’s most coveted jobs.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 28, 2011 – At 38, after years of odd New York jobs, Dixon enrolled in the two-year Culinary Institute of America program with no motivation besides his love of cooking. He put life on hold and immersed himself in classes in math and gastronomy, and labs in food identification and fabrication. Dixon manages an honorable and straightforward narrative out of the constant evaluation, testing, and various personality conflicts, even when the details swing between slaughterhouse excitement and onion-chopping tedium. He s subtle on the competitive effects of foodieism and celebrity, and fair on his own shortcomings during an externship in New York City, where he earned real compliments but was told that he lacked the makings for a culinary career. Though stress and tension regularly took their toll, Dixon stuck with the program, and during the finals for the Bocuse d Or he experienced an epiphany that paved the way for satisfactory completion of the program. In the end, this book serves as a nice supplement, that of a novice cook, to Mark Ruhlman s The Making of a Chef.

Customer Reviews

Hard to put down

This book is exceptional from the standpoint of being from a cook who can truly write or, perhaps, a writer who can cook. The reader is taken on a journey, somewhat atypical for the age of the author, through the process of studying at the Culinary Institute of America. What is surprising here is how the author, although more mature than most students, was unprepared for the rigors of cooking in an on-demand environment. This is surprising in view of the fact that he had been a writer and obviously has experienced deadlines in the past.

Nonetheless, this is a great read. Very good storytelling throughout and very captivating. One wishes it were longer and had an epilogue with some information about what the author currently does.

Great read

As a foodie, former hack of a chef, and small time food blogger, I really enjoyed the writing and story telling. The writing is from that of a person perspective and so you get a real feeling of being there and what it's like to tackle culinary school at age 40. Cool book.

Made me want to get in the kitchen

Very sincere, heartfelt and vivid. A great vicarious jaunt through the CIA and peek behind the pass into some of the worlds best kitchens and I learned a culinary tip or two along the way.

Beaten, Seared, and Sauced
View in iTunes
  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Cookbooks, Food & Wine
  • Published: May 03, 2011
  • Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings