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.
Beaten, Seared, and Sauced book summary coming soon..
The book starts out a bit slow and I wasn’t sure I would like it. However, the author was setting up the background which was beneficial later on. I really enjoyed reading about the menus, recipes and ‘behind the scenes’ of school and the externship experience. Lots of information and I felt like I was right alongside the author! Great read! 55
Interesting and an enjoyable read but a little whiny. The author seemed to have unrealistic expectations of culinary school, his externship, and of many of his jobs prior to culinary training. He gave lip service to the impact of his actions on his partner but for the most part appeared to abnegate responsibility. He seemed to expect everyone to like him and didn’t investigate why when he found they didn’t. His hard work to attain the desired skill set is laudable but training for many professions requires extended hours, exerts extreme pressure, and involves derision for subpar performance. While one can debate the value of such systems, their prevalence is common enough that the experience shouldn’t be unexpected. The author sometimes gives the impression that the requisite effort toward a difficult goal is unreasonable although at one point comes to accept Stanhope’s adage that anything “worth doing ..., is worth doing well”. Everyone’s journey has value and the writing is engaging but the author and his story would have benefitted from a greater sense of personal responsibility. 35
This is a wonderful book that puts you into the reality of culinary school. People think it's a breeze when I'm reality it's complicated and a struggle. Wonderfully written, I can say I am more than happy that I will be attending the CIA in a few short months :) 55
As a C.I.A. Grad myself (04') this book was spot on. Great job! 55
As a CIA graduate of May, 1980, i was struck by how well the author captured the tone of the learning, the constant battle between fear of failure and learning. I have always wondered if the chef faculty and the administration actually believed that belittling others led them to greatness. The current and recent generations are bashed for their "inner focus, whats in it for me mentality", but the generation of chefs that need to treat others the way they were treated as apprentices is the true self focus that wastes time and talents. I can only imagine that outsiders may doubt some of his stories of ridicule, and of intense pressure, they would be wrong, he captures the culture of our greatest chef growing institution perfectly well. The two year AOS degree is the best real culinary education available, but if you want to be successful, add two years of learning how to listen, how to communicate, how to coach, and how to inspire greatness, and dont expect that from a cooking school. Well done, Jonathan, well done. 45
Being an over 40 culinary student myself, I was drawn to the book. I was also interested in having an inside view of the CIA. I loved his ups and downs and watching him grow as a chef. 45
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. 45
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. 55
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. 45