Becoming a Chef

Becoming a Chef

(Left: 1st edition – 1995; Right: 2nd edition – 2003)

James Beard AwardJames Beard Book Award Winner – Best Writing on Food

With Recipes and Reflections from America’s Leading Chefs

by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
Photography by Michael Donnelly (2nd ed.)

(John Wiley & Sons; 2003)

“1995: BECOMING A CHEF is published, offering the first compendium of answers to some of the most common questions an aspiring chef can ask.”

The National Culinary Review, in its timeline of pivotal events in culinary history

“…BECOMING A CHEF, the first book that meaningfully addressed chefs as they moved into the realm of celebrity.”

—Michael Ruhlman, author, on

BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page…was actually more than a cookbook, and launched a new dimension in food writing, creating a standard for a whole new genre.”

—Pam Chirls, senior culinary editor, John Wiley & Sons, as quoted in The (Hackensack, NJ) Record





The publication of BECOMING A CHEF in 1995 and its wildly unexpected success (after its first printing of just 2500 copies, within a decade the book went on to sell more than 100,000 copies, with its surprise bestsellerdom noted by Forbes) launched a new wave of food writing and popular books on food, and is said to have established the category of contemporary writing on food. Named recommended or required reading at many of the nation’s leading culinary schools and in many of its leading restaurant kitchens, BECOMING A CHEF helped to shape an entire generation of aspiring professional chefs all around the world and in intimately introducing dozens of America’s leading chefs to home cooks, it helped to usher in a new era of “celebrity chefs.” In highlighting chef-restaurateurs’ success as inspiring entrepreneurs, the book drew praise from the likes of leadership guru Warren Bennis and The New York Times’ Business section, which featured a full-page review of the book. And BECOMING A CHEF gave voice to a broader societal mission for the profession and served as a harbinger of the subsequent artisanal and farm-to-table movements, among others.

Essential reading for anyone who loves food, BECOMING A CHEF is an entertaining and informative insider’s guide to the chef’s profession, providing the first behind-the-scenes look into some of the most celebrated restaurant kitchens across America.  Dozens of America’s leading chefs from Mario Batali to Rick Bayless to Daniel Boulud to Traci des Jardins to Emeril Lagasse to Marcus Samuelsson to Alice Waters share their secrets for succeeding in this most demanding of professions.

One of the very first copies of the first edition of BECOMING A CHEF is part of Julia Child’s Kitchen Library at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Carlos Laureta

Carlos Laureta won the 2004 essay contest “The Book That Changed My Life” with his essay on BECOMING A CHEF

“Its insight into the philosophy of chefdom today is invaluable.”

—Alison Arnett, THE BOSTON GLOBE

“An unusually comprehensive book, immensely readable, at once passionate and coherent, probing and well-informed.  For anyone interested in the historic coming of age of the professional American kitchen, this is a requisite buy.”

—Michael and Ariane Batterberry, FOOD ARTS

“Our book today is BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page…Terrific…[In 1995,] a book like you’d never seen before…Really gave a good flavor of what it was like to become a chef, and what it took.”

—Tom Beckman, CHIC Podcast #21 (May 20, 2006)

“Chef Todd Schulte is constantly thinking about new sandwiches to feature on the menu at Happy Gillis Cafe & Hangout and the Genessee Royale Bistro the two restaurants he owns and manages with his wife, Tracy Zinn. Fat City had a chance to discover more about his favorite [things]…One book that every chef should read? BECOMING A CHEF is a fabulous book that had a lasting impression on me.”

—Jonathan Bender, THE PITCH (March 17, 2011)

“Chef Jennifer Maloney has shucked and baked oysters for Keith Richards and seen Italy with chef Mario Batali. But she found her place at Cafe Sebastienne in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, not that far from her childhood home in midtown…One book that every chef should read? BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. It gives you a perspective on what it takes. It has good information about how to go about it. You keep your mouth shut and your head down, working hard. It’s a good tool for a young cook to read.”

THE PITCH (February 17, 2011)

“After reading this book, I understand that becoming an outstanding leader is not very different from becoming a chef. Both roles require passion, discipline, authenticity, and an experimental attitude. On top of that, organizing a kitchen may be as difficult as organizing any business. Not only will present and future chefs and restaurateurs want to read this book, but anyone with a taste for excellent cooking and excellent leadership will find something of interest on every page.”

—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California and author, ON BECOMING A LEADER

“Quite possibly the only book of its kind…A useful, informative book about how successful chefs got their start.”


“What a wonderfully energizing and informative book!  I’ve strongly recommended it to numerous colleagues and the graduates I addressed at L’Academie de Cuisine…A spectacular book.”

—Leslie Beal Bloom, Past President, International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP)

“Intriguing…Fascinating…This is a cookbook where the text is the best part. It is a very important book.”

—Anthony Dias Blue, radio host, WCBS RADIO

“…Night after night for 12 years, Biba packed in the power and gourmet elite. (A-listers like Julia Child, John Kerry, and Arthur Winn dined upstairs in the restaurant; the chefs hung out late-night in the downstairs bar.) Shire paid back her investors in two years and 11 months—a feat that is still local legend—and became a star. Eric Bogardus, now chef at Vox Populi, read about Shire in a book called BECOMING A CHEF; the next week, he packed up his car and drove from southern Illinois to Boston just to work with her. He couldn’t afford an apartment for the first few months, so he lived part of that time out of his car—a small price for the opportunity to cook alongside the great Lydia.”

BOSTON magazine (December 2006)

BECOMING A CHEF gives you a wonderful feeling about our world and the passion it takes to succeed.”

—Daniel Boulud, chef-owner, Restaurant Daniel (NYC)

“One of the most unique and engrossing books I’ve read in a long time.  A great gift.”


“Offers excellent advice and wisdom.”

—JeanMarie Brownson, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“MasterChef Christine Ha Inspires Hadley Attendees: It’s hard not to tear up when watching Christine Ha, MasterChef winner 2012, cook in the kitchen. The visually-impaired chef beat out 18 other contestants to win the top spot on season three of MasterChef, a cooking competition on Fox…Some of Ha’s favorite audio cookbooks: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child; BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, and THE FLAVOR BIBLE by [Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg].”

—Chi-an Chang, WINNETKA PATCH (October 12, 2012)

A ‘must’ for aspiring chefs.”

—Julia Child

“A serious, unromantic look at the restaurant business.  The personal accounts of success and early failure are often as funny or frightening as they are intriguing and informative.”


BECOMING A CHEF is featured on its Recommended Literary Booklist: “If you’re considering a culinary career, aspiring to become a better home chef, or just curious, you’ll truly enjoy this book, now revised for a new audience. An absolute must-have.”

—THE COOKBOOK STORE (Toronto, Canada)

“In BECOMING A CHEF, authors Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page bring together the experiences, insights and advice of more than 60 leading chefs to give aspiring chefs a sneak preview of what life is like in their chosen profession. BECOMING A CHEF is an award-winning, must-read book for anyone contemplating a career in the kitchen. In fact, Julia Child called it ‘a ‘must’ for aspiring chefs’ and a book doesn’t get a better endorsement than that. ”


“In the genre of polling famous people in the food industry and compiling a book out of their anecdotes and life lessons, nobody does it better than Dornenburg and Page. I was first introduced to their books when I grabbed BECOMING A CHEF off the shelf at the bookstore. These books really epitomize for me the best kind of reference books.”

—Hillel Cooperman, (October 19, 2006)

“I love your book BECOMING A CHEF. It’s fun, informative and well-designed.”

—Dana Cowin, editor, FOOD & WINE

“Are chefs born or made?  BECOMING A CHEF unveils formative experiences that elevated food to a central place in the lives of well-known American chefs.  I was fascinated how seeds planted long ago ripen into a career, and how the palate is trained into an instrument of discernment.  Food memory of meals eaten years ago is photographic in detail, complete with emotion, ambiance, sights, sounds, and textures — a tasting in the mind.  The authors show that the best chefs are alchemists, able to turn ordinary food into gold that transforms the spirit.”

—Richard E. Cytowic, M.D., author of THE MAN WHO TASTED SHAPES, and Pulitzer Prize nominee

“As chefs become increasingly visible and the art of cooking grows in popularity, the publishing dough rises…BECOMING A CHEF [by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page] has provided inspiration to serious home chefs because of the interest in what chefs are doing around the country.”


“CEOs in White: In an industry that sometimes struggles with image problems and always with labor shortages, the magnetic attraction that surrounds chefs presents an intriguingly odd dichotomy. While short-order cooks and so-called burger flippers are deemed to be career dead-enders, a craft that combines creative intellect with hands-on execution and the romance of food compels many to dream of becoming a chef (especially, it seems, hard-charging types such as lawyers and stockbrokers), even if they never act on it. Nearly a decade ago, a book debuted that perfectly tapped this gestalt just as it arced from peripheral interest to trend. Since then, BECOMING A CHEF: With Recipes and Reflections from America’s Leading Chefs (John Wiley & Sons)by Andrew Dornenburg, a chef, and his Harvard MBA wife, Karen Page has become something of a cult classic. More than 100,000 copies have been sold and its lessons have attracted readers far beyond the kitchen. Plucked from the dialogue of top chefs such as Daniel Boulud, Susanna Foo, Gary Danko, Charlie Trotter and Susan Feniger are astute business lessons and philosophies that have turned many business people into avid readers. Warren Bennis and Tom Peters are said to be fans of the book, presumably for something other than a recipe for buckwheat risotto. With kitchen turned into metaphor and BECOMING A CHEF the roadmap, it’s easy to chart parallels to success in more traditional business milieus. Looked at from that angle, the professional skills of chefs become more complex, instructive and fascinating putting them on par with those of business titans and mavericks. For anyone who undervalues the deep pool of talent that resides in the back of the house, perhaps it’s time to look more closely and glean tips that can be used in any setting.

  • Like the best CEOs, chefs are driven by attitude and moxie. They’re loath to accept mediocrity and rarely are undecided about the best approach to accomplish their goals.
  • They live by numbers, constantly working them through in their head. They know the inputs and the impact. Whether dollars, gallons or degrees, the math must always work.
  • Chefs understand with absolute certainty the importance of paying attention to everything the big picture as well as the smallest detail. A single thing can bring down the house-even one bad clam or a bunch of unwashed green onions.
  • The kitchen is their world and they know it intuitively, experientially and completely. With one glance, a chef can gauge and respond to the landscape of the day.
  • Results are measurable and readily apparent. If it’s working and the marketplace responds, gratification is nearly instantaneous.
  • In the end, execution is all that really matters. If the plan can’t be carried out, even the most brilliant ideas and business proposals will collapse like a cold soufflé.
  • And finally, a chef’s success like that of a CEO is an elusive goal and it’s not easy to reach. Says Edna Lewis in BECOMING A CHEF: “Restaurant work is hard work. But you don’t give up-you try to improve every day, even on the old things you do. It’s a never-ending learning process.”

—Patricia Dailey, RESTAURANTS & INSTITUTIONS (3/1/04)

“Not for would-be chefs only…Contains tidbits of wisdom for all business warriors.”

—Judith Dobrzynski, THE NEW YORK TIMES Business section

Graham Elliot, Best New Chef Award Profile: Q. What’s your favorite cookbook of all time? A. BECOMING A CHEF by Dornenburg and Page. Probably the first book where I understood what independent chef-driven restaurants were, and who these chefs around the country were. That started me on the journey.”

FOOD & WINE (September 2013)


—Florence Fabricant, THE NEW YORK TIMES

“I’m sure you’ve heard all manner of praise, richly deserved, for such a wonderful book.  I just want to add that it has been a great success in my course on Culture & Cuisine here at Wesleyan.  I’ve used it at several junctures in the course, but most prominently in a week we devoted to professionalism and culinary education.”

—John Finn, professor, Wesleyan University

“Their BECOMING A CHEF remains the definitive career guide for would-be Wolfgangs and Emerils.”

THE FREE LANCE-STAR (Fredericksburg, Virginia)

“There aren’t enough superlatives to describe BECOMING A CHEF…This book is a treasure.”

—Carole Gainesborough, CULINARY TRENDS

“Thank you for sending me a copy of the revised BECOMING A CHEF. The book is outstanding! Congratulations on putting together such an informative and interesting book. I’ve shared excerpts with President Ryan and his Cabinet. They were very proud of you and your work….Continued success with this book, as well as all of your future endeavors.”

—Dr. Victor A.L. Gielisse, CMC, CHE, Associate Vice President and Dean of Culinary, Baking & Pastry Studies, The Culinary Institute of America

“An unusual combination of lovely photographs, engaging and personal text, and wonderful recipes.  A really fresh way to do a book on the subject.”

—Milton Glaser, renowned designer

“…Several years ago I read their first book BECOMING A CHEF; it’s that book that left the biggest impression on me and cultivated my interest in the culinary world. After devouring the first book, I was smitten, inspired and hungry for more. I next conquered Culinary Artistry, Dining Out and Chef’s Night Out, and still on my list are The New American Chef and, their newest, What to Drink with What You Eat. Full of inspirational stories and a wealth of information, their books are fantastic resources for every aspiring chef eager to expand their culinary knowledge.”

—Monica Glass, pastry chef

“This past Christmas, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page’s engaging BECOMING A CHEF proved a surprisingly popular gift item.”

—Fred Goodman, FORBES

“I use the book BECOMING A CHEF as a textbook in the advanced class that I instruct. In this class the students must plan a 7-to 9-course meal from start to finish. In the very front of the book the statement (paraphrased) ‘Everything we cook today has been done already,’ appears. I have asked the students to discuss this statement in the form of a research/opinion paper. The paper will be due towards the end of the semester.”

—Michael Harants

“…But considering the exciting things to be learned in the comprehensive manual BECOMING A CHEF, it’s hard to see why. A book that for most readers would be a handbook for completely changing the gameplan to work at or run a restaurant, it gives valuable insight into the complicated culture of cuisine and the people who fuel it. BECOMING A CHEF focuses on the long journey required to become a professional chef. The process is, in most cases, complex, difficult, and involves going to culinary school or being apprenticed at an early age — unfortunately, not attending a liberal arts college. Even for people uninterested in the culinary arts as a career, however, this book is an amazing resource. It compiles dozens of interviews with famous chefs that detail exactly how and why they became the successes they are today. It includes a timeline history of food, restaurants, and chefs, as well as a large collection of recipes that the chefs who were interviewed say helped form their cooking style and philosophy. The tireless, almost fanatical mindset required to own your own restaurant and serve your own food is captured in this book, which explains the entire process in the form of stories and recollections from people who have done it themselves.”

—Katie Harger, CareerStreet (April 17, 2006)

“Once every now and then a book comes around and is realized to be a classic…This is one of them.”

—Kate Heyhoe, electronic Gourmet Guide, AMERICA ONLINE

“One of the top three food-related books of the year….This fascinating book paints an up-close, behind-the-scenes picture of the world of food.”

—Suzanne Hough, D MAGAZINE

“Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page have created a classic. The flip side of Larousse Gastronomique, this book should be required reading for anybody who has ever considered a career as a professional chef. For those of us who are content with our day jobs, BECOMING A CHEF is a complete and informative look at how the best in the business got where they are today. Dornenburg and Page interviewed 60 of America’s finest chefs to find out what drives them. What are their influences? How did they begin? What do they read? And what advice do they have for someone just starting out? Most of all, the book offers a candid perspective on what it takes to succeed in the top ranks of the business. From a professional standpoint, BECOMING A CHEF is invaluable; from an amateur’s standpoint, it is simply fascinating.”

—Mark O. Howerton,

“Jeffrey Henderson thought he knew what living large was in the late 1980s when he was notorious as one of San Diego’s most successful crack cocaine dealers. He was making as much as $35,000 a week. He owned a large view house in the Dictionary Hill section of Spring Valley and eight cars, including a custom Mercedes 500 SEC convertible. But 20 years later, as the executive chef of Las Vegas’ Cafe Bellagio, Henderson is enjoying a different kind of fame. His gripping memoir of his drugs-to-dishes journey, Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, From Cocaine to Foie Gras (William Morrow, $24.95), made The New York Times best-seller list. In recent weeks, he has been interviewed by Tavis Smiley, Montel Williams and Oprah. Two hours after Oprah aired, Henderson found himself in a limousine. ‘They had a driver swoop me up and take me to Will Smith,’ Henderson said. ‘He was so cool, down-to-earth and real mellow. He reminded me a lot of myself.’ Smith’s production company bought film rights to the book for $1.2 million….Jeffrey Henderson’s reading list Books he read while learning to be a chef: BECOMING A CHEF by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg (sic).”

—Maria C. Hunt, San Diego Union Tribune (April 11, 2007)

“There are thousands of cooking schools around the world, with over 40% in the USA. Publishers translate their wine and cookbook bestsellers for this important professional book market. The sales in the professional cookery book market, written by both cooking schools and chefs, represent thousands of copies of each of the following books: TOP 5 WORLD PROFESSIONAL COOKERY BOOKS: 1) On Cooking, 2) Professional Cooking, 3) Larousse Gastronomique, 4) BECOMING A CHEF, 5) The New Professional Chef.…[BECOMING A CHEF] provides the first behind-the-scenes look into some of the most celebrated restaurant kitchens across America.”


“One of my top five cookbooks of the year.”

—Kate Jackman, national cookbook buyer, Borders

“A dose of reality to those starstruck by famous cooks…Clear insights into the profession.”

—Barbara Jacobs, BOOKLIST

Fascinating…Reveals the inner workings of stellar restaurant kitchens and the culinary talents who do their creating there.”

—Cynthia Kilian, THE NEW YORK POST

“For anybody who has ever envisioned becoming a professional cook, this book is an absolute must-read, and it’s a fascinating one as well.  In my opinion, it’s the most important first step you can take….”

—Peter Kump, President, Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School

“If you’re thinking of pursuing a career as a chef, aspiring to become a better one at home, or just curious about some of America’s top chefs, you will love the new book BECOMING A CHEF!”


“The book that left the biggest impression on me was BECOMING A CHEF, which I practically memorized when I was just embarking on my…culinary career.”

—David Lebovitz, pastry chef and blogger

BECOMING A CHEF is as requisite for anyone considering a career in the culinary arts as are Larousse Gastronomique and a good set of knives. And for anyone simply interested in restaurants and American gastronomy, this is a fascinating trove of information and fine, modern recipes.”


“Love your books….BECOMING A CHEF was truly inspirational for me.”

—Dr. Michael Mascha, food anthropologist and founder of

“If you were to take an overhead time-lapse photo in the kitchen of a busy restaurant, the resulting picture would reveal something like ‘spaghetti junction’ blurred images of people streaking every which way in a frenzied cacophony of food preparation. Orchestrating this mad production and somehow able to bring order out of all the chaos, the executive chef emerges as the master magician of the kitchen. In the revised edition of BECOMING A CHEF, James Beard Award-winning co-authors Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page hopscotched across the United States, conducting a rapid deployment into the kitchens of more than 60 of the nation’s top chefs to glean insights into their fascinating profession. Reading like a Who’s Who of Gastronomy, the famed chefs include such leading lights as Rick Bayless, Zarela Martinez, Charlie Trotter, Gordon Hammersley, Jean Joho, Gary Danko, Mario Batali, Susanna Foo, Alice Waters, Odessa Piper, Janos Wilder and Elizabeth Terry, to name just a few. In the process, each of the cooking luminaries contributed a favored recipe, everything from a treasured old family formula to original creations that hold special meaning to his development as a chef. Foodies will flip over the intriguing entries running the gamut from the mundane to the sublime. There’s everything from chocolate chip cookies-actually two different recipes from two different chefs, Nancy Silverton (Campanile, Los Angeles) and Marcel Desaulniers (The Trellis, Williamsburg, Virginia)-to Tripe Stew with Spaghettini, from chef Hiroyoshi Sone, (Terra restaurant, St. Helena, California), and Jacques Torres’ creation, Chocolate Crème Brulee (Jacques Torres Chocolate, Brooklyn, New York). Feast. It’s a food lover’s delight.”

—Jack McGuire, FREQUENT FLYER (March 2004)

Cooking is an art. A splash of spice is to a chef as a gentle brush stroke upon a canvas is to a painter. Those who understand this have transformed daily household cooking into the culinary arts. Garrett Benedict, 18, in his first year as a West High alumnus, has since his junior year aspired to learn to cook well. Now a pastry and frontline chef at two highly acclaimed restaurants in Anchorage Marx Bros. Cafe and Orso Garrett finds himself realizing his dream….Q. So, how did you start into the culinary arts? A. When I was in seventh grade, my best friend’s mom gave me the book BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, and I read the book in two days. I just tore through it. It was about the industry, working as a cook and working in different restaurants. I ate that book up. Ever since that point, I really started thinking about cooking. Then I bought more cookbooks books not necessarily about cooking but about chefs. I learned about the culinary arts class at the King Career Center through my high school counselor and took it. From then, I got referenced to Orso and worked in prep for about a month and a half before getting promoted to the dinner line, working in the pantry section, where I worked for about seven months. So, it was definitely that book that changed my life.”

—Becquer Medak-Seguin, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS (February 24, 2006)

Inspirational….Well worth giving or receiving [for the holidays].”

—Anne Mendelson, GOURMET

“A unique perspective offering valuable insights into all aspects of the culinary arts….”

—Ferdinand Metz, President, The Culinary Institute of America

“Helpful books for aspiring chefs: Whether you’re dreaming of a culinary career or you’re already working behind the stove, you’ll find both inspiration and a good dose of reaality in two recently published books about succeeding as a chef….Be sure to check out BECOMING A CHEF, a very thorough primer by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.”

—Susie Middleton, FINE COOKING

“Finally, a book that lets chefs speak for themselves! An insightful look at the complex life of a professional chef. Fascinating portraits of the people who have defined American cuisine — who they are and how they got to be where they are today. Anyone who is interested in becoming a chef will find this book invaluable — this is what it takes to make it.”

—Mark Miller, chef-owner, Coyote Cafe

“For people who love food and cooking, it’s almost inevitable that a mother or grandmother loomed large in their culinary upbringing. And whether Mom or Grandma worked full time or stayed at home, whether she still lives next door or out of state or has passed on to the great hereafter, her influence continues to shape our food lives. Famous chefs abound with these types of stories. Boston’s Jasper White, for example, says his grandmother introduced him to his favorite thing in the world. ‘All the time I spent with my grandmother, I just sat there and watched her do the cooking. I never cooked. I just ate it, that’s all. And still, my great love is eating,’ he is quoted in Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page’s BECOMING A CHEF.”

—Karen Miltner, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (May 8, 2007)

“Let’s say you are considering a change of careers, and the thought of working in a restaurant kitchen sounds appealing. If that’s the case, run right out and purchase BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. With a foreword by Madeleine Kamman, this text is a magnificent collection of insight into the world behind the kitchen doors from which wonderful food emerges. Each page is overflowing with the experience and knowledge of well-known contemporary chefs from all over the country.”


“One of Cody’s Best Cookbooks of 1995.”

—Vigi Molfino, cookbook buyer, Cody’s Books

BECOMING A CHEF is a marvelous book for the interested home cook as well as the aspiring chef.  Like great wines with great food, there are great dishes and a great education here.”

—Robert Mondavi, Robert Mondavi Winery

From its History of Culinary Education in America: “Upon its publication in 1995, BECOMING A CHEF offered the first compendium of answers to some of the most common questions an aspiring chef can ask.”


“Recommended reading.”

—National Restaurant Association (

“By the way, Karen and Andrew are authors of several other books you’re certain to know, like BECOMING A CHEF, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite books and won the James Beard Book Award for Best Writing On Food.”

—Nycci and David Nellis, hosts, Dishing It Out on 1500 AM and 820 AM in Washington, DC (November 23, 2008)

“I have a cookbook collection numbering in the mid-hundreds, have chatted with everyone from Julia Child to Lynne Rossetto Kasper to Madeleine Kamman, and never have I seen such a wealth of insight and practical knowledge stuffed between the covers of a book.”

—Barry Nelson, Boston Public Radio

“To start searching for or developing your inner gastronomic ability, I recommend BECOMING A CHEF.”

—Nouel C. Omamalin, (Philippines’ regional ezine)

“When Julia Child sends a congratulatory note on your recently published book and says she keeps her copy by the bed, you’ve done a good job.  Coupled with the fact that the Culinary Institute of America has made your book (the first you’ve ever written) required reading, well, then you should throw your toque blanche in the air in a celebratory ‘whoopee!’….[BECOMING A CHEF] is a comprehensive primer on the culinary profession…a combination of brass tacks and philosophy.”


“Based on interviews with 60 top American chefs, this now-classic volume describes career stories and provides advice to those starting on a professional culinary path.”


BECOMING A CHEFis as thoughtful, eclectic and enjoyable as Andrew Dornenburg’s cooking. Which is to say, very.”

—Robert B. Parker, gourmet and bestselling author of the Spenser series of mysteries

“I have given BECOMING A CHEF to several of our sous chefs and enjoyed their reactions, from immediately sitting down and beginning to read it cover to cover, to staying up all night…I am hearing a lot of quotes from the book in our kitchens!”

—Cindy Pawlcyn, chef-owner, Mustards Grill (Napa Valley)

BECOMING A CHEF provides the first behind-the-scenes look into some of the most celebrated kitchens across the nation….”

—Mickey Pearlman, WHAT TO READ: The Essential Guide for Reading Group Members and Other Book Lovers

“Grilling the Chef: Chef: Aaron Millon. Age: 35. Restaurant: Restaurant Phoebe. Location: Montpelier…SD: Which two cookbooks should every home cook own? AM: Madeleine Kamman’s The Making of a Cook and probably Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques, which is getting outdated but is still a great reference book. Every chef should have BECOMING A CHEF, by [Andrew] Dornenburg and [Karen] Page, and should also have their CULINARY ARTISTRY close by. It’s kind of about the process: Once you have basic tools and skills, how do you take it a step farther and learn about flavors and what they do when they’re combined? How do you develop that skill?'”

—Suzanne Podhaizer, SEVEN DAYS: Vermont’s Independent Voice (July 9, 2008)

“Inspired by their admiration for the best restaurant chefs, Andrew Dornenburg, a sous chef at Rosemarie’s in New York City, and food consultant Karen Page take a ground-level peek at every facet of a cook’s life and profession in BECOMING A CHEF: With Recipes and Reflections from America’s Leading Chefs, due from Van Nostrand Reinhold in June. What did Jasper White, Anne Rosenzweig, Emeril Lagasse, Mark Miller, Alice Waters et al eat as children? What were their early aspirations? How do they interact with customers? Interspersed with these unflinchingly mundane but revealing sections are human-interest boxes that track matter-of-record information such as who trained where and with whom, and a generous sampling of recipes from the more than 60 participants. Appendices include a listing of culinary organizations, publications and professional cooking schools in the U.S. and abroad.”


“One of the best books ever written about the back-of-the-house side of the restaurant business…Entertaining and enlightening…A must-read.”


“This is really an extraordinary book.  I think I’m safe in saying that there’s never been a book like this….It’s a great book!”

—David Rosengarten, Food Network

“…BECOMING A CHEF, the first book that meaningfully addressed chefs as they moved into the realm of celebrity.”

—Michael Ruhlman, author, on

Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg have been publishing innovative books about cooking and the chef world for longer than I have. Their popular BECOMING A CHEF was published the summer I was harrassing the Culinary Institute of America to let me in to write about, well, becoming a chef.  I was mortified they’d beat me to it. It proved to be not just a different book from what I was attempting, but a valuable research tool for me then and throughout the years (its history of American restaurants and chefs with opening dates or significant restaurants is something I’ve  returned to throughout the years).  It remains a valuable book especially for people considering entering the profession.”

—Michael Ruhlman (December 16, 2009)

One of the top 5 Editors’ Choice cookbooks of the year…Eye-opening, charmingly written smorgasbord of sage advice…Makes for terrific reading even if you don’t want to work in a restaurant or actually open one.”


“An extraordinary book — BECOMING A CHEF is far and away one of the most insightful and practical introductions to a profession that I have ever seen.  Anybody who loves food will love the book; anybody who loves to cook will love the recipes; anybody who harbors the slightest desire to experience life as a chef does will use the book as a bible.”

—Leonard Schlesinger, Vice Chairman and COO, The Limited

“Yesterday,  I  received your new edition of BECOMING A CHEF.  Thank you so much!  You never cease to amaze me.  It gets better and better.”

—Dieter Schorner, professor, The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY), once named one of the two best pastry chefs in America in Time magazine

“Chefs show platefuls of creativity with every meal they make. But their individuality doesn’t end at the edge of the dish. Along with keeping any stray hair off the face, or worse, a plate, their head garb says as much about their personality and what kind of restaurant they work for as the recipes they concoct….The toque has been worn by chefs since the 1820s, according to Andrew Dornenburgand Karen Page in the book BECOMING A CHEF: With Recipes and Reflections From America’s Leading Chefs (Van Nostrand Reinhold). Its shape comes from the tall hats worn by Greek Orthodox priests.”

—Mary Scourtes, The Tampa Tribune (June 2, 2003)

“Packed full of info and inspirational interviews with our nation’s top culinarians….Some of the most interesting reading on our field that I have found.

—Lawrence Searl, C.C., The Culinary Institute of America

“Fascinating reading….I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book….An exciting book that captures the intensity and passion that many of us have for food and the restaurant industry.”

—Darin Sehnert, chef-instructor, School of Hotel & Restaurant Management, California State Polytechnic University – Pomona

Superb…A book rich with anecdote, insight and passion…In all, a completely absorbing book.”

—Ann Shayne, BOOK PAGE

My favorite food book of 1995.”

—Mimi Sheraton, former critic, THE NEW YORK TIMES

BECOMING A CHEF This lovingly written and carefully researched book is a must-read for anyone considering a career in the food industry. The authors interview the country’s top chefs about their influences and explore the many paths to becoming a chef. The chefs’ recipes are sprinkled throughout the book, and an entire section is devoted to the pros and cons of attending a professional cooking school. The authors won the coveted James Beard Award for their effort.”

—Sarah Lavender Smith, DIABLO

“Once I started reading BECOMING A CHEF, I couldn’t stop until I finished it.  Really, FORMIDABLE!!!”

—Andre Soltner, legendary former chef-owner, Lutece (NYC)

“Q. …My son is very interested in becoming a chef (he is 16).
A. I would be happy to spend some time with him in the future. In the meantime, you should pick up a book by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page called BECOMING A CHEF.”

—Chris Stewart, chef, Delta Beausejour (Moncton, Canada) and a finalist on GlobalTV’s The Next Great Chef

“Should be mandatory reading for anyone considering a restaurant career… Fun to read, informative and unique, this is an essential purchase.”


“Check out BECOMING A CHEF for a thorough history of the American (read: celebrity) chef.”


“The ideal book to take with you, if your dreams involve food, is BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. It’s what every foodie wants to know, told from the perspectives of America’s best chefs. Each chef contributed one of his or her favorite recipes, and tells its background. Even the recipes are intriguing everything from rabbit rutabega stew to voodoo beer-steamed shrimp to the aptly named Pasta from Hell. The book would also make a nice hostess gift, a welcome change from the usual bottle of wine….”


“What an extraordinary book!  Pain, gain, joy, pathos, and the aroma of braised short ribs.  It made me want to open (God forbid!) another restaurant.  I never thought anyone could capture the magic and mission of being a chef, but they’ve done it!”

—Barbara Tropp, chef-owner, China Moon Cafe

“Authors of six books, including their seminal work BECOMING A CHEF…”


“Before the advent of the Food Network and the rise of celebrity television chefs, most Americans were exposed to chefs only through cookbooks, the occasional cooking show on Public Television, or through their local restaurants. Little was known about the chefs themselves, their backgrounds, and their daily lives on the job as a chef and/or restaurateur. In 1995, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page sought to change all of that with their book, BECOMING A CHEF. Mr. Dornenburg and Ms. Page interviewed dozens of culinary legends and up-and-coming talents (at the time) including Alice Waters, Emeril Legasse, Michel Richard, and Jacques Torres. These interviews formed the foundation for the various culinary and business-related chapters of the book, such as ‘Developing as a Cook’ and ‘Persevering in the Face of Reality’ subjects that would be of interest to readers interested in pursuing or expanding a career in the kitchen. Each chef provided his or her own unique perspective on these subjects through stories, anecdotes, and tips. Mr. Dornenburg and Ms. Page then supplemented this material with information such as cooking school profiles, advice on interviews, and books of interest. To complete the presentation, the authors solicited a collection of recipes that held a special meaning for each of the contributing chefs First and foremost, I would recommend this book to anyone who is considering a culinary-related career. While there are many books available today which detail the journey to becoming a chef, almost all of them are from the singular perspective. Individual works are informative and helpful, yet they lack the broad and varied perspectives that are provided by the chefs in this book a single note often pales in comparison to a harmony. Through the chef’s stories, readers can see that many different, and sometimes challenging, paths can lead to the same destination the kitchen. BECOMING A CHEF does not try to sugar-coat the hard work and effort necessary to become a chef, nor does it down-play the difficulties in striving for the top, whether in the kitchen or in the front of the house. Mr. Dornenburg and Ms. Page’s work is honest, straightforward, and interesting. This refreshing and informative look should also appeal to those interested in learning just what goes on behind those kitchen doors. Perhaps after reading this book, you’ll realize that you too have what it takes to become a chef.”

—Duncan E. Van Buskirk, DC IN THE KITCHEN

“Insightful…Offers rare behind-the-scenes glimpses into some of the country’s most celebrated kitchens.”

—Elaine Van Dyne, COUNTRY LIVING

“The newest cooking trend: Celebrity chef backlash: Aren’t Canadians supposed to be the nice ones? From Susan Schwartz, writer for Montreal newspaper The Gazette: ‘…Today, a coffee table book like My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals (Bloomsbury, $49.95) creates all kinds of buzz and gets spreads in magazines and newspapers all over North America, even though it’s in large measure a pretentious and banal work….But there are way better books out there, books in which chefs write thoughtfully about what they do, about food and cooking books like How I Learned to Cook, a fine anthology edited by Kimberly Witherspoon with contributions from the likes of Marcella Hazan and David Chang, or BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.’”

VARIETY (October 29, 2007)

“Many years ago, when BECOMING A CHEF first came out, I read your book and was inspired to pursue a career as a chef. I have graduated from culinary school and am now working for Wild Oats Natural Market Place in Portland, Oregon as the Area Chef. I run two cooking schools, develop all of the menus, and teach all of the cooking classes. I have enjoyed each one of your books, and I just wanted to let you know what a difference you made in my life. Each time a student asks me how I decided to become a chef, I tell them about your book.”

—Lucy Vaserfirer, Area Chef, Wild Oats Natural Market Place in Portland, Oregon (July 2004)

“I just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU for one of the best books I have ever read: BECOMING A CHEF. I found it to be a fascinating and intriguing read. I was unable to put it down for any length of time. There is an unspoken fire within, an enthusiasm and understanding among those of us who have this passion for food YOU HAVE IT! And you’ve captured it in this book! As I read the last page, a tear came to my eye, for I knew this amazing experience was coming to a close though I will probably re-read the book many times and use it as a reference as well. There is no other like it. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

—Daree Warner, personal cook for singer-songwriter Amy Grant

“In Pursuit of a Postdoc: Late at night in the biochemistry laboratory, I spend hours cooking food for hungry cells, formulating recipes for enzymatic reactions, and preparing the exquisite gels through which nucleic acids run. The morning brings a tangle of data, which, after calculations and brainstorms (and perhaps a few days of technical fine-tuning), inspire research questions for a new day. That is the life I love; that is why I want to become a scientist.

Science, like cooking, is a practical art that is best learned through hands-on experience. As I finish my Ph.D. at a well-regarded university, I am looking for an exceptional lab in which to do my postdoctoral training.

My mentors have told me that as a postdoc candidate, I will be a ‘slam-dunk.’ However, my early experiences searching for an appointment have suggested otherwise.

One particularly disappointing morning, I headed to the local library in search of guidance and came home with BECOMING A CHEF (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1995). I finished the book that afternoon, devouring the surprisingly relevant advice and realizing that becoming a chef is a lot like becoming a scientist.

One of the greatest similarities between the two is the importance that ‘apprenticing with the best’ has on your career trajectory. The aspiring young professional seeks to train with a master of his or her art, who, almost by definition, does not need to solicit apprentices.

The apprenticeship whether it’s with a master chef or a senior scientist is not really a one-on-one tutorial, but rather a 10- to 12-hour-a-day staff position in a kitchen/lab. In many cases, the young apprentice must boldly inquire about an unadvertised job before fully understanding the specifics of the position and the working environment.

As an aspiring scientist, I am encouraged to attend national meetings that provide a forum for networking, or, for those of us who are less bold, for merely observing the master scientists in a given field. Although finesse in both laboratory and kitchen finesse is best demonstrated in person, a graduate student at least can improve her chances of landing a position by that great, nonsubjective currency of science: the number of manuscripts on which she is listed as first author on her CV.

I am hoping to broaden my scientific expertise by doing my postdoctoral training in a field that is related to, but distinct from, my doctoral work. Sort of like continuing to study French cooking, but in a different region.

Judging from my first two attempts at finding a postdoc, the greatest challenge may be catching, and keeping, the attention of a busy master scientist.

With the first scientist that I approached, I made the mistake of being too eager. Scientist X is an innovative academic with lots of flair think Nigella Lawson.

I have been a fan of Scientist X’s work for several years, and I contacted her by e-mail before a small research conference that I knew we would both be attending. She was very responsive, and after a few e-mail exchanges, I was added to her busy schedule. Our initial lunch meeting at the conference was energetic; I expressed my interest in her past work, and she divulged tantalizing details of upcoming projects in her lab.

The follow-up to that initial meeting was an invitation to interview at her lab. As is customary, I prepared a 30-minute talk that concisely covered my thesis project. That was followed by interviews with various postdocs and students in the lab, and then by a gourmet dinner with the scientist.

Afterward, I was swooning. It seemed like the perfect situation for me. Once home, I e-mailed Scientist X to express my willingness to commit especially for the practical reason of starting to apply for my own grants. Her message back to me was equally enthusiastic, promising an offer in the coming weeks.

After several weeks of coming home to an offer-less mailbox, my hopes started to sink. I debated day after day whether to call or write, and what to say. I finally opted for a letter that expressed my continued interest, but did not mention the offer. Her equally indirect response suggested that I was a contender and was welcome to stay in touch.

Upon reflection, I suspect that my post-interview eagerness had been a turnoff. No one rushes to hire someone who is already in her back pocket. For now, I have put my pursuit of her lab on the back burner until my search matures and I can better determine if it is the right situation for me.

Deep down, I am optimistic that the brilliant Scientist X wants the best for me and knows that a search for a good postdoctoral position will take more time.

My discovery of the more-reserved Scientist Y think Oliveto’s Paul Bertolli started off with the telltale symptoms of my first mistake. I told my family and colleagues that I had fallen in love with another lab.

Then I caught myself. Instead of diving head first into a new ‘relationship,’ I contacted people who knew Scientist Y, including colleagues and a current postdoc in his lab, to feel out the right approach.

Taking the consensus of their advice, I crafted a short e-mail that expressed my interest in postdoctoral training in his lab, asked how to be considered for such an apprenticeship, and included, as an attachment, my CV. I got no response, so I followed it up with a telephone message the following week. Still no response.

I cannot help feeling that I made another mistake in approaching Scientist Y. This time perhaps I had been too casual. Two sound bites from my conversation with the researcher from Scientist Y’s lab reverberated in my head: He had mentioned his own ‘FedEx blitzkrieg’ in applying to the lab and how one of his committee members ‘was a friend of Y’s.’

The overnight-mail approach would surely include a more formal cover letter, a statement of my research philosophy, and copies of the three first-author manuscripts that I have published. But would it have been sufficient? Or was the ‘friend of Y’ the critical link, and did I need to enlist a heavier hitter than either myself or my up-and-coming thesis adviser?

So at this point I wonder whether capturing a master scientist’s attention is a matter of first impressions or of persistence. Is it more about expressing passion or professionalism? Should I conduct a search on my own power or enlist a network of big names to persuade other master scientists to give me a chance?

Although there are probably no general recipes for getting your foot in the door, I have already learned that a sustainable search will require balance, and that neither the overly eager nor the overly brief approach is appropriate.

In BECOMING A CHEF there is an anecdote about a culinary-school graduate whose ‘dogged cross-country pursuit to track down’ a master chef who had been reluctant to take him on, ended when he pulled up at her restaurant with a car full of local ingredients and ‘she saw that I was very serious about cooking [and] took me under her arm.’

In that, I take heart in what I hope to be true that persistence in my serious pursuit of high-quality science will reveal my passion. In the coming months, I will continue to seek out master scientists and fine-tune my approach, knowing that I am capable of the hard work that is required to become one myself. ”

—Amber Wattson, The Chronicle of Higher Education (December 14, 2004)

“People are magnetized to it — it’s been flying out of here!”

—Nach Waxman, Kitchen Arts & Letters

“Fascinating…Readers of BECOMING A CHEFare left with a genuinely rich impression of the serious chef’s intention.”

—Jeff Weinstein, VILLAGE VOICE

“Come to it with hunger, curiosity and an open mind.  You are certain to come away satisfied, enlightened, renewed.”


“I just got my copy of BECOMING A CHEF. My work is suffering for it.  It’s been a real struggle to put it down.  Any time I pick up the book, I can open it anywhere and be immediately absorbed.  You have woven together a totally seamless narrative which flows from one chef and topic to the next effortlessly and entirely logically.  I am in awe of the job you have done putting together so many thought-provoking and inspiring insights….I don’t remember the last time I was this enthused over a book….I am ordering a number of copies for my staff and friends.  Congratulations!”

—Janos Wilder, chef-owner, Janos and J-Bar (Tucson)

“Fascinating…An excellent overview of culinary history, together with some of the chefs, and their restaurants, who have helped guide America into culinary prominence during the last quarter of this century.”

—Chuck Williams, founder, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

“The award-winning book BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page even delivers great efficiency ideas from Chef Emeril.  The most efficient kind of marketing? Holding on to repeat customers. Renowned chef Emeril Lagasse encourages repeat business by issuing these ‘commandments’ to his staff. From the time guests arrive, staff members must provide:
* Recognition: They must greet customers by name and put regular customers’ favorite drinks (stored on computer) at the table before they sit down.
* Maximally Efficient Service:  Servers much approach tables within 30 seconds of guests’ arriving. They provide ‘gang service,’ so all entrees are served at the same time.
* Follow-up:  Servers will even send follow-up notes to customers. Your challenge? Adapt Emeril’s ‘commandments’ for your customers or other constituents such as staff, teams or the executive group.”

—Stephanie Winston, THE ORGANIZED EXECUTIVE (May 2002)

READER TESTIMONIALS BECOMING A CHEF has frequently been cited as a favorite book of chefs and other cooking enthusiasts around the world:

“I am nearly finished reading BECOMING A CHEF, and felt compelled to thank you for opening my eyes. I will start culinary school in June at [Johnson & Wales] University in N. Miami, FL, and feel more passionate now than any previous time in my life about my future as a chef. I know the road ahead will be difficult, but I am ready to meet the challenge. Thanks again!”

—Toniann Beattie (Bethel Park, Pennsylvania)

FROM THE MAY ’96 FOOD ARTS: “I WANT TO BE A CHEF” Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, co-authors of BECOMING A CHEF (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1995), recently forwarded this fan letter to FOOD ARTS. So impressed were we with the correspondent’s passion for a culinary career, we’ve asked her to update us periodically on her professional and personal progress. “On Tuesday, I went to the bookstore to purchase BECOMING A CHEF, which came to my attention through FOOD ARTS (October ’95). Today is Friday, and I only put your book down long enough to see to my children’s daily needs. I am a 38-year-old single female with two children, ages 12 and 7, living very close to the poverty level. However, I have recently enrolled in the International Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh to pursue the passion that has burned in my heart since early childhood. Just enrolling and making the extensive financial commitments have filled me with anticipation and trepidation. BECOMING A CHEF has energized me with excitement. I am far from educated in the culinary arts or food industry. The interviews you presented brought to life some of the chefs I have only come to recognize on the pages of magazines and books. These culinary legends now seem human. In very rare instances I can even draw parallels to my own passion. BECOMING A CHEF also gave me a realistic view of the degree of dedication and hard work it will require to even scratch the surface of my dream. You showed me that the struggle will not be mine alone, but will involve my children. You make me believe my children will benefit from our impending struggles. Hopefully, this endeavor will teach them something about their mother, themselves, the importance of pursuing their dreams, respect for their cultural origins, and finally, a deeper understanding of my passion to share my God-given talents. I have never written a letter like this in my life. Not because I am timid, but because I have never been so truly grateful for the impact a book brought into my life. I am no longer frightened, I am inspired! I cannot wait to start school…I may be much older than those who begin at the conventional age; however, my passion has burned much longer and my perseverance has been tested by my past experience…”

—Daniel Antonelli, Johnson & Wales University (N. Miami, FL)

“I ‘devoured’ your book from start to finish, savoring literally every word as if it were a novel.  What a welcome addition to the culinary world and a long-overdue journey into the hearts and minds of American chefs.  I commend you both on your labor of love and the exceptional manner in which you presented what you had to say.”

—Karen Berk, co-owner, The Seasonal Table Cooking School (Los Angeles)

Currently executive sous chef at Arboreta, Jason Bieber began his professional career three years ago….His favorite book is BECOMING A CHEF by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. ‘It really makes you feel good about what you do,’ he says.”

—Jason Bieber, chef, as quoted in CITY BEAT (Cincinnati)

“I just wanted to drop you a note about your book BECOMING A CHEF and let you know how it changed my life. I have always had a yearning in the back of my head to work with food. In September of last year, I changed careers….I constantly reread sections of your book for insight and inspiration. Thank you for writing an honest book about the kitchen. It is a place that I have fallen in love with and plan to stay for a long time.”

—Eric Brandt, chef

“We suggest reading the book BECOMING A CHEF by Dorenburg and Page, available at your favorite bookstore. This motivational book highlights many industry professionals and the paths they took to achieve their individual success.”

—Colorado Mountain College Culinary Institute

“Sometimes we just don’t know how our work or words will affect another; how our words can be a catalyst of positive change for someone. I just wanted to write to you to let you know that your book BECOMING A CHEF has had an impact on me. Although I do love to cook and I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes, I am not a chef or nor do I plan on becoming a chef but your book has given me the inspiration to continue pursuing my dreams. I happened to be browsing the library and came upon your book, BECOMING A CHEF. As I started reading it, I felt a renewed sense of passion for my work. Reading about how much people are dedicated to becoming a chef and how they are following their passion has really helped me. Your book is definitely a delight and has renewed a spark that I thought had died. Thank you for listening to yourself and bringing your work out into the world. You have truly touched my heart and my life and I will always be grateful.”

—Erica Edwards (June 2005)

“I can’t begin to tell you how very much I have enjoyed BECOMING A CHEF. Its effect on me, on my life, on how I view myself and my relationship to the world — I can’t even begin to put it into words. Even from a young age, food was of great importance to me. I always felt different — a bit peculiar. I have always viewed food as a catalyst of social interaction, a binding agent of families, and a language which transcends words and, instead, communicates on a far more immediate, primal level. I can remember — with only a few exceptions — every meal I have eaten in the last 30 years. (My earliest food memory is of my 5th birthday dinner, which consisted of a broiled grapefruit salad, liver and onions, twice-baked potatoes, creamed spinach with nutmeg, and eclairs with bittersweet chocolate glaze. Because it was my birthday, I was allowed to choose the menu from beginning to end. As I look back, it wasn’t a bad menu for a first effort!) BECOMING A CHEF has inspired me. While I am not in a position to quit my job to go to culinary school full-time, I am starting with one class this semester and maybe two next. I am paying close attention to experiencing the rich food available here in Chicago, and I am reading voraciously. I have never been happier! Your writing helped make that happiness possible. Thank you for your work. It must be fulfilling to know that — in doing what you love to do — you are able to change people’s lives.”

—Aidan Gilbert

BECOMING A CHEF is one of the most sensitive and revelatory books on the profession I’ve read. I’ve been a working ‘chef’ (aka line cook) for almost five years, and it actually helped me pursue a few jobs (the information on setting up interviews and trails helped a lot). A great book.”

—David Harbilas

BECOMING A CHEF is the book most recommended for the layman who wants to understand professional cooking: “It gives good insights into the profession.”

—Kevin Hennessy, sous chef, L’Amie Donia

“You both have (unknowingly) helped me a great deal.   BECOMING A CHEF was one of the most informative books I read while in culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education.  It’s also one of the books that I see most on my chef friends’ bookshelves!”

—Tiffany Hofmann, DeVries Public Relations

BECOMING A CHEF is a milestone book when it comes to exploring the paths that many established chefs have taken.”

—Josh Klausner, filmmaker

“What a great book that really gets into the thoughts and emotions of today’s great chefs. The great chefs are, when it comes down to it, in love with food and have an unsatiable appetite for culinary knowledge. The authors did such a wonderful job capturing the feelings of the chefs and then painting pictures for the reader. If you’re interested in food, considering the culinary world as a profession or already a chef, I recommend it.”

—T. Labant (Boston)

“If you are a cook, have been a cook, or want to be a cook, you must read this book. The only book I have read that takes you right into the kitchen.”

—Andrew Larson (Spokane, Washington)

“A turnkey work for those contemplating the profession….As a person who was considering a career change at the age of 27, this book provided the affirmation that my personality and being was in line with the profession of cooking. For those that are considering a career in the culinary arts, I believe that culinary schools should require an essay on the interpretation of the general content of this work as a guideline to indicate the realization of what is involved in the business. It simply isn’t like the television programs, it’s working in a hot, heavy lifting, work while you’re injured environment, with no holidays, or excuses. This book gets this point across without being squelching, and bring home the encouraging points for those with the passion. This work helped motivate me to my life long dream of going to cooking school, and now as an executive chef, continues to inspire me when the details are getting me down. I’ve lent it to my most promising line cooks.”

—Catherine Lofgren (Bainbridge Island, Washington)

“Favorite book: BECOMING A CHEF.”

—Tony Marciante, executive chef

“Your work has entirely changed my life, and I am now actively pursuing a food journalism career. In three weeks I will be graduating from culinary school. The sole reason for my successfully completing the course was the motivation I developed in response to your book. I have bought and given [BECOMING A CHEF] to a couple of fellow students for them to benefit from and cherish as I have. I believe that, in time, your book will be identified as the landmark publication that had a viable impact on an entire generation of cooks, chefs and, yes, writers. At least one that I can think of. I have an obligation to communicate my unyielding gratitude to you for the enormity of your contribution to this generation’s culinary development. May God continue to bless you.”

—Paul Marks

“Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order): Andrew Dornenburg & Karen Page, BECOMING A CHEF.”

—Michaelangelo Matos, on (June 20, 2005)

“Any chef will find this one a must-have.  This is my favorite book about the profession.”

—E.E. McCain, chef

This book was a revelation, gave my cooking studies and aspirations focus, is very thorough, and was an instant personal classic. I loved this book for a second reason: It opened up the ethos of American cooking to me in the same way that Beck, Bertholle, and Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking did for French cooking. The world of Kamman, Waters, et al the exciting cooking going on in our own country was foreign to me until I read BECOMING A CHEF. Also, the ‘Chefs’ Top 20′ list of essential cookbooks is worth the price of the book.”

—Chris Miller (Albertville, Alabama)

“I reviewed your book for a class I’m developing for our Culinary Arts program. I found it captures the spirit and vitality necessary to the success of a contemporary restaurant, painting an honest picture of life in the kitchen. I’m sure that my students will enjoy your book as much as I have!”

—Rick Mills, Erie Community College

“This book really helps to guide a young chef to grow their skills as a professional, also has helped me enhance my skills, even after 20 years of cooking.”

—Robert Munnich (Philadelphia)

Inspiring! Life-changing! For most of my life, I have felt fundamentally different from the people around me because of the profound importance food plays in who I am and how I relate to the world. This book artfully and carefully gives the reader a look at both immense pleasures and back-breaking work which accompany a life as a chef. At the same time, the authors are able to chronicle the careers and lives of the most important chefs of our day.”

—Aida Nog (Chicago)

“Thank you for your wonderful book BECOMING A CHEF. I have found it most helpful in researching my career change.”

—Thomas Roddy (Los Angeles)

“Well, it was bound to happen!  I guess it was only a matter of time before BECOMING A CHEF fever hit home!  My best friend’s mother-in-law read BECOMING A CHEF and, as a result, decided to pursue her dream of cooking professionally.  In a recent letter to me, she wrote:  ‘I attribute my decision to attend the French Culinary Institute to the book.'”

—Amy Shipper, editorial assistant, Van Nostrand Reinhold

“I just have to say that you guys have done a great service to this industry. Your books are on my ‘must have’ list of literature that I dole out to my apprentices and cooks when they start working for me.”

—Paul Silva, chef (Toronto, Canada)

“When I opened BECOMING A CHEF, it was literally a revelation….I will keep it with me and use it frequently. And maybe some day, if I am in a similar position to some of the chefs that are detailed in the text, I can pass on a copy to those that I may mentor and give them the direction and promise that this book has given me.”

—Alicia Smiley (Davis, California)

“I picked up your book the other day and just wanted to let you know that I thought it was great. It will be a great bedside read, and also a good addition to our school library. Great job!”

—Amy Stevenson, The French Culinary Institute (NYC)

“I became a restaurant cook with help from BECOMING A CHEF.”

—Emily Kaiser Thelin, former editor at Food & Wine and co-author of Unforgettable: Bold Flavors from Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life

“I picked up your book the other day and just wanted to let you know that I thought it was great. It will be a great bedside read, and also a good addition to our school library. Great job!”

—Amy Stevenson, The French Culinary Institute (NYC)

I’ve read this book 5 times and I’ll keep reading it until the day I die. This is a journey full of inspiration, passion, love for food and the restaurant business. It highlights some amazing, everyday people who are know as ‘chefs.’ If you are just starting out or need a bit of a pep rally, read and re-read this book. It will be a journey you take which you will never want to return from.”

—Luis del Valle Torregrosa (Adelaide, Australia)

“…Becoming a chef didn’t come as naturally. Even though I loved cooking and working in restaurants, I’d always thought of professional cooking as a means to get through film school. Two things happened to help change my mind. The first occurred during my first year of graduate studies, while taking a hiatus in St. Louis, my car was broken into and all my film equipment stolen. About the same time I received a copy of A. Dornenburg & K. Page’s inspirational BECOMING A CHEF, an incredible book that outlines the amazing world of professional cooking through interviews with some of the world’s best chefs. I took these events as signs, left school (which I wasn’t enjoying anyway) and committed myself to learning everything I could about cooking and food. Many incredible meals and unforgettable food experiences later, I’m about to embark on another food adventure: Kirk’s Traveling Kitchen. ”

—Kirk Warner, Kirk’s Traveling Kitchen (June 2006)

“Favorite food service management book: BECOMING A CHEF.”

—Vernon Warner, International Food Services Executives Association

“The greatest book I’ve ever read.”

—Marc Weiss, International Chefs Association

“I’ve always liked to cook at home for myself and guests. I entertained the idea of changing careers into the cooking field. But cooking at home isn’t the same as cooking professionally, right? Just what would I be getting into? This book answered those questions and I’m now enrolled to start culinary school. I couldn’t put this book down even though I consider myself a poor reader and rarely finish anything.”

—Ernest Keith Wilson (West Columbia, South Carolina)

“I only want to say this:  Thank you for your amazing books.  I received BECOMING A CHEF as a gift when I was just about to finish high school.  I had always wanted to be a chef, but had no idea what it meant to get to that level.   Your book set the hook even deeper, and truly gave me a realistic view of how to plan my career.  It has been the most incredible tool — so much so that I have had it re-bound from overuse.  I have bought almost two dozen copies for my friends and apprentices, and I have made it required reading for all those who have worked with and for me. Thank you for showing us the path, or at least the door.”

—Eric Wood, sous chef (Canada) (9/19/03)