Book Review: The 4 Hour Chef
“I eventually learned to cook by focusing on two principles. Both of them apply to all learning ad will be your constant companions throughout this book: failure points and the margin of safety.”
I’ll start by admitting that I was not that interested in cooking (beyond the small amount I already know or can read off a website). Author Tim Ferriss made a point in the pre-release promotion of 4HC that the book was not at all cookbook, but a book about hacking learning (i.e., it doesn’t take 10,000 to be good at something if you use the right process) that used cooking as it’s muse/example. And I will give it to Tim in a way: 4HC is not necessarily a cookbook, though roughly 400 of its 500 pages is about the entire universe of eating. That universe includes which meals to make (and how), tools to use, ingredients to buy, contingency plans, music to go with the food, and everything else in between (and if you’ve read any Tim Ferriss books, you know that that means everything). This book is definitely the place to start for someone that doesn’t cook and wants to learn without spending extra money. 4HC is expansive, with hundreds of recipes, simplified for the cookbook-averse for all occasions and palates.
Even without an interest in cooking, there was no question I was getting 4HC and pushing it to the top of my reading list. After finishing it, I will revisit 4HC when I’m ready to learn some dishes (or traveling NYC or San Francisco — there are color-coded maps of the best-rated restaurants for those two cities). The explanations, steps and photos — notably the detailed step-by-step killing, gutting, frying up and eating of a female elk — are all great, for anyone that really does want to prepare and/or eat some excellent food. Which I guess means all of us.
The real reason I read 4HC? Tim Ferriss. I have become enough of a fan of this man that I will buy and read any book he writes, on any topic.
That’s the deep lesson of this review. I am working on another book to follow up my first effort now, and I hope to one day have literary fans as fervent about my writing as I am about Tim’s.