Inspired by the Amateur Gourmet, I inter-library loaned Michael Ruhlman's books The Soul of a Chef, and since it came up in my search, The Making of a Chef.
I'll have to say up front that although I read non-stop, and therefore read a lot of crap, I am still very picky about the quality of writing I enjoy. I don't enjoy Michael Ruhlman's style. BUT, the information contained within is good enough to keep me reading, and to inspire me to pick up and finish off the second book just as quickly.
The Soul of a Chef is divided into three sections: the master certified chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America, following a friendly fun chef on the rise in Ruhlman's hometown Cleveland, and chronicling his work with Thomas Keller, of the French Laundry (and now, Per Se). This last section held my interest far more than the others, and I will be checking out The French Laundry Cookbook in the very near future. Keller hired Ruhlman to help him with this book, thus Ruhlman's getting to write the last section of Soul of a Chef.
I feel like kicking myself in the ass after reading this. Not that's it's easy to get reservations at the French Laundry, but there were a couple supreme dining occassions in San Fran when I could have at least tried. I don't regret my meals at Chez Panisse, or the Zuni Cafe, and so on - but. But -
The descriptions of the food, the meals, the experience. The French Laundry. From reading this book alone, it is worthy of its reputation. Sigh.
I definately learned a lot from Making of a Chef. Not what Ruhlman tried to hammer home, obvious stuff about the personality of people who cook for a living, but the details. I've never attempted, and so have never learned, classic cookery. Mother sauces, browning of bones, stuff like that. Good read which added a lot to my base of food knowledge, without having to put hours and days in, in the kitchen.