Finally!  The Elements of Cooking, my guide to the language of the kitchen, has been published in the form it was meant to be in—paperback, an edition affordable for students (just $10 from Amazon), light and bendable for stuffing into backpacks or knife kits.  Eric Ripert, chef-owner of the 4-star restaurant, Le Bernardin, calls it “simply the best reference book and educational tool available for anyone interested in the basics of the culinary arts.”

I’ve always felt this was a required resource for all young cooks or new cooks, except for its hardcover price tag. Wonderful Scribner and the visionary editor Beth Wareham, have now changed that.

Sam Sifton, NYTimes restaurant critic, said this about the book in the The NYTimes Book Review:

A deeply opinionated rundown of the essential knowledge all cooks and food people need, the book also contains three of the most important sentences anyone reading about cookbooks may see this or any year. They are found under the entry for “recipes.” “Recipes are not assembly manuals,” Ruhlman writes. “Recipes are guides and suggestions for a process that is infinitely nuanced. Recipes are sheet music.” [I posted the entire entry for “recipes” here.]

Sifton was, at the time, cultural editor at The Times.  After reading The Elements of Cooking, he became the paper’s restaurant critic.  Coincidence?

Choosing it as a book of the month for when it was first published in 2007, Brad Thomas Parsons, wrote this:

Inspired by the Strunk and White classic, Michael Ruhlman’s The Elements of Cooking will quickly prove to be an essential culinary reference for both seasoned cooks and novices who might not know gravlax from gremolata. After a thorough “Notes on Cooking,” Ruhlman, a prolific cookbook author and popular blogger, settles in for an opinionated and informative A-Z roundup (from Acid to Zester) of cooking terms, lessons, and techniques reduced to their essential essence. Even with only one recipe (for veal stock), it’s a must-have for every kitchen library–a book that will help you re-think your approach to food.

As part of my mission to get this information, if not this actual book, into the hands and heads of everyone who cooks, I’m giving away signed copies to five randomly chosen people who leave their favorite culinary term below (please leave a working email—it won’t be published—to ensure I can contact you).  Winners will be chosen via Twitter on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. or so, Cleveland time.

Please spread the word! I truly am excited that this book is available for such a low price.

Update 4/20: More than 600 people have commented as I write this, more than I expected.  I will give away TEN signed copies, if I get more than 1000 unique comments!

4/21: Time for commenting is concluded.


838 Wonderful responses to “The Elements of Cooking,
Paperback At Last! 5-X Giveaway!”

  • Chris Bankston

    I’m going with “knead,” as it is a wonderful feeling working with silky dough.

  • Blyth

    I’d have to go with mise en place. Now I just need to remember to do it.

  • Alex

    ‘Brunoise’ – Not only delicious to say but seeing a pile of perfectly chopped veg in teenty tiny dice is one of the most satisfying sights in the kitchen

    • Mary Beth Paul

      OK, so who are they? ; ) You got a lot of us to post- so now I am wanting to know the names of the winners, what their culinary terms were, and how many different terms were posted and which one (I’m guessing “mise en place”) was cited the most.

      When I checked in on this blog on the 19th, at first glance I couldn’t believe my eyes to see there were over 400 posts at that time. I was wondering what on earth had happened to garner such a response. After reading your post, I decided to join in on the fun. But now ya got me hooked even more, so….fill us in, please.


  • Doug Hiza

    Michael, your move to a new hosting site has made it possible for me to connect to your site, when previously I could not. Thanks!

  • Michelle

    I realize that commenting has concluded, but you said “unique comments” and a person in my family had a good one – Fond, because it’s a four letter word beginning with the letter “F”.

  • Malini

    I know I am too late. I pick

    CURRY- the most abused term in the history of Indian cuisine

  • Marie-Eve

    I always liked the term “Bain Marie”. Problably because all I can think when hearing this term is melted chocolate!

  • Nathan Higgins

    Souffle. Because of its complexity, simplicity, and generality. Capturing air – how many ways can you do that?

  • Steve Kaplowitz

    The word is Unctuous. If one doesn’t know what is is, they have missed the joy of slow braised Beef Shank.

  • Mike Bott

    Mandoline. Hard to find here in China, even though so many are now made here.

  • chris shenton

    I like “chiffonade”, it sounds sexy like some delicate item of lingerie. 🙂 Food is sexy.

  • Marc Goldstone

    I love “semifreddo”. It kind of reminds me of what Fredo looked like after Michael got done with him …