The 4-Hour Chef Review: A Guide to Learning Anything
When most people buy a cookbook, they don’t usually expect it to teach them anything but a few nice recipes. To be honest, I rarely expect even that because my experience (I love cooking) shows that most of the recipes have to be modified. But what if I tell you that “The 4-Hour Chef” by Timothy Ferriss is a cookbook that will teach you a whole new life philosophy, which will help you master any new trade. After all, the book’s full title says that it’s “the simple guide to cooking like a pro, learning anything and living the good life”.
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When you sit down and think about this book, you’ll come to the conclusion that it’s a pretty crazy book that puts forward some pretty abnormal ideas. The weirdest bit, though, is that these ideas really work. If you look at it closely and read it from top to bottom (all of its 672 pages, that is), you’ll realize that it’s a cookbook that focuses on meta-learning just as much as it does on cooking. The book is more like a cooking class with a wise sensei who will teach you the culinary art, but will also show you the way to “hack” your life and make it better, more efficient, and improve the quality of everything in your life.
A Closer Look
The book is divided into five main parts – Meta-Learning, The Domestic, The Wild, The Scientist, and The Professional. If you are familiar with other works by Tim Ferriss, will recognize this style of structuring a book. This is the method that Time discovered and this method helped him become a best-selling author, a tango world record achiever, a champion Chinese kickboxer and what not. So the method does work if you have the right attitude and predisposition.
If you want to discover how to start making achievements and transforming your life, then you should start reading the Meta-Learning section straight away. Because that’s where Ferriss unveils his way of achieving things. He teaches the reader how to deconstruct challenges like learning to cook, learning to play the piano, starting a business and anything else in life. Then Ferriss shows his way of solving the problems and achieving the result in the quickest and most effective way possible. He shows how to do all that using cooking as an example. I guess that’s because Tim claims that cooking has always been the skill he found difficult to master. So, you get skills for life plus lots of different recipes to try out.
The Domestic section deals with very practical kitchen skills that are bound to make cooking easier and more efficient. For example, it teaches you how to cook without measuring the quantity of everything and just using eyeball measurements and your intuition.
The Wild section is the weirdest one. I mean, some of you might want to learn how to catch pigeons with your bare hands or hunt for deer, so that you can prepare an all-natural venison dish, but I found it a bit bizarre. It does, however, teach you how to survive in the wild. That is a beneficial bit of knowledge because it teaches you self-discipline and makes your mind sharper that you would expect from a city person.
The Scientist section is more like a gastronomy course. Molecular gastronomy, to be precise. While it’s definitely of some interest, it was hard to see the practicality of the whole thing. Then again, it’s good to know the science behind all those fabulous meals cooked by chefs in posh restaurants.
And finally, The Professional section actually teaches you how to transfer your acquired skills into the kitchen and start making fabulous Sunday roasts, entrees, deserts and what not. It also teaches you to be a self-sufficient person and boosts your confidence in everything, including cooking.
What I liked about the book was Ferriss’ writing style that made this huge tome an easy read. And fun, too. And he can literally make your mouth water with the way he describes various dishes. Another thing I loved were the 140-character Twitter recipes. They were a lot of fun. On a more serious subject, he focuses on organic and healthy foods, which is really important in today’s environment and is essential if you want to take good care of yourself (and you ought to, really). As for the recipes, a lot of them are simply delicious and are really worth trying out.
The book is obviously huge – 672 pages. It is a long read and sometimes it’s too magazine-like to read well. Another thing I didn’t like is that Ferriss is all over the place. Since this book is essentially about cooking, it does feel a bit strange when he starts talking about kickboxing and tango. True, he is trying to make his point and explain his learning method, but sometimes it feels too erratic. In addition to that, his language is full of cliches, which made me sick by the time I was on page 101. And last but not least, the way of doing things is probably more than a bit unrealistic if you have a busy lifestyle.
The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life is an innovative, fun and fundamentally useful book, even though it does have its flaws. Is it worth getting? Definitely, especially while it’s on sale on Amazon. You won’t regret reading it (if you have the patience to finish it) because you will learn a whole new way of doing things and improving your life.