Question of the Day

How has Ruhlman captured your soul, Chef?

Greg Biggers's Profile Photo Greg Biggers
Executive Chef
Café des Architectes and Le Bar
Chicago, IL

Rulman is an awesome writer. I remeber reading the making of a chef and being blown away. The whole master chef certification test was crazy!!!'I had no idea they went through that kind pf hell. Before reading that I always considered those types of certifications meaningless and a bit ridiculous. And the chefs that were involved cope outs. The way he was able to express what feelings were going on with the chefs taking the tests really made me respect people who put themselves out there like that. A huge eye opener.
I have tried to read numerous food writer works but to me they come across stuffy and boring. Michael has a way of being able to interest someone like me that does have time to read as much. He seems like a great guy to have a beer with!

Norman Van Aken's Profile Photo Norman Van Aken
Executive Chef/Owner
NORMAN'S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando
Orlando, Fl.

Look. I hope most folks don't take this wrong...but some invariably will. I tend to distrust a lot of folks who become well-known writing about chefs as if they know the chef's life. The odds of a writer knowing that are akin to a writer knowing a boxer's life. But...the very best do. When Michael came out of the literary woods covering Thomas I was dubious as hell. What a sure way to an easy audience than by covering one of the best we got. But I had an in to the fact that Ruhlman might have the chops...and it wasn't Tony. It was Ruhlman's wife Donna. She came down to Florida a long time before MR came unto the scene. She was doing the photography for a bone fide culinary LEGEND that most young pups have no idea about. I mean barely NONE. And that is fucking crime. A.J. Mc Clane was the single best writer on Seafood in the History of Food Writing. To this DAY no one touches him. M. Kurlansky is my next favorite. I first met Al in Key West, (he insisted I call him that tho it went against my upbringing to refer to a maestro my his first name) in 1988 when he came to MIRA and had dinner. I ran home on foot after the Savory Courses to get his classic cookbook for him to sign before he could drift on into the tropic night!). A long year with several sea changes later I went up to his house in Palm Beach as his guest to do a recipe for his new book on Game Cookery. Donna was there and she shot some photos. Then they all came to Boca where I was cooking at the time. I digress. It was Donna that first made me take notice of Michael. Then Michael and I met at the inevitable food shows around the US. He was a midwestern guy like me. I was growing okay with him. Then he interviewed me for a major piece on Charlie that Gourmet commissioned. The piece died because, (I was told...) that it wasn't tough enough on Charlie. Hah. Then even best to date; MR came to Key West and looked me up and we went to a local shrimper bar and we threw down some drinks. I love the guy.

Derek Simcik's Profile Photo Derek Simcik
Executive Chef
Atwood Cafe
chicago, IL.

Oh so easy when thinking of Ruhlman and his books and what has influenced me, One comes to mind right away "Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking". It helped me retrain my early culinary mind from thinking I absolutley needed a recipe to realizing if i understood the basic ratio of the procedure you could take recipes in any direction and without a actual handwritten recipe.

Gerard Craft's Profile Photo Gerard Craft
Executive Chef/Owner
Niche Restaurant and BRASSERIE by niche
St. Louis, MO

Michael Ruhlman's The Soul of a Chef. The most important part was about Michael Symon and thats when I realized I could own a restaurant of great quality, while being myself. Ruhlman wrote the real side about chefs which I think is especially important since TV is doing a really good job of covering that up.

Also his book Ratio is insane and has made my life so much easier. I love have the tools to do whatever I want. As long as you have the Ratio in life I feel like you are set.

Matt Danko's Profile Photo Matt Danko
Pastry Chef
The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat
Cleveland, OH

I don't have a favorite Ruhlman book but I do have a favorite experience. Once some time ago he and Brian Polcyn butchered at bar symon it was just them and 4 other people. The experience was phenomenal and unforgettable, I know the memory will last a life time.

Jonathon Sawyer's Profile Photo Jonathon Sawyer
Executive Chef/Owner
The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat
Cleveland, OH

My favorite cooking book by Ruhlman is Ratio. The app is so useful, I use it almost every day in my home life and restaurants. I'm also a big fan of House: A memoir. It's full of great stories and really makes me appreciate living in a century home. I'd have to say that he has had a tremendous influence on my career in the best possible way.

Chrissy Camba's Profile Photo Chrissy Camba
Bar Pastoral
Chicago, IL

I have to say, my favorite Rulhman book is the one he co-wrote with Brian Polcyn, Charcuterie. It was one of those "moment" books. I remember the excitement I felt when I first started reading it and how "new" these "old" techniques were to me. The book is so explanatory which was very helpful to me especially because I didn't attend culinary school. The pictures and in depth-ness of the book really made me understand what and how things needed to be done. He has influenced me in a way where I know at some point down the road I want to open a Charcuterie shop. It really was like that "a-ha" moment for me - I knew I loved cooking and I was good at it, but after reading the book I realized I had a very strong passion for charcuterie. So...thanks Michael Ruhlman!

Phillip  Foss's Profile Photo Phillip Foss
Executive Chef/Owner
EL Ideas
Chicago, IL

A Return to Cooking. No wrong answer as they are all worthy books, but there is not a time I open that book that I am not inspired by the simple and great cuisine of Eric Ripert, and the book really makes you feel like you are there with the crew. Always dreamed that artwork of Salvador Cortazar would hang on the walls of my restaurant. 

Susan Goss's Profile Photo Susan Goss
Executive Chef/Owner

Chicago, IL

I use the Charcuterie book Michael wrote with my friend Brian Polcyn all the time. His technique is exacting. I also read his blog which is well organized and informative. Has he influenced my career? I don't think he has but I respect him as a fellow cook and food lover.

Perry  Hendrix's Profile Photo Perry Hendrix
Chef de Cuisine
Chicago, IL

French Laundry cookbook - written by Ruhlman & Keller - changed my life. It was the first cookbook that I really read - not just looked at the recipes or the pictures. The pages written on caring for food & the process (and joy) of repetitive preparation should be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to cook for a living. My copy is well worn...

Rob Levitt's Profile Photo Rob Levitt
Executive Chef/Owner
The Butcher & Larder
Chicago, IL

His book, Charcuterie and The French Laundry cookbook were and remain huge influences, but his first book, Becoming a Chef really got me. I say it a lot better on my blog (

His newest book, Twenty is pretty amazing, and a great gift to someone like me with a retail food shop. He is trying to get people back into their home kitchens cooking again. And cooking with technique, not recipes. He illustrates the techniques with recipes, but tries to make people understand that cooking isn't about measuring spoons, it is about common sense, a little knowledge and having fun. Taking the fear out of cooking. When he was at the shop he exclaimed that the big food companies are convincing us that cooking is difficult and not worth the trouble, and that it incenses him that more and more there are people who can't roast a chicken at home. I believe in the mission of this book and think what he is doing with it is way more important than a collection of recipes.

Cary Taylor's Profile Photo Cary Taylor

Chicago, IL

Michael Ruhlman has been one of the best teachers I've ever had, and I've never even met the guy.

Here's why:

I read Soul of a Chef about 10 years ago and shortly afterwards decided I wanted to cook professionally for a living.

I read Charcuterie and tried everything (yes everything) in the book. I base several cures, brines and spice mixes off of one's he introduced me to in that book.

I own Ratio and, more importantly for the cook, the Ratio iPhone app, which I use on a weekly basis and translate to my cooks. We speak heavily in ratios at The Southern, and I wouldn't have comprehended it without the tools Mr. Ruhlman provided.

I bought Ruhlman's Twenty for my wife and now she can cook and likes to cook, which adds even more awesomeness to her repertoire.

The first big boy cookbook I bought was The French Laundry Cookbook, which needs no preamble as to explain the importance it has had over countless chefs.

But I think what I dig the most about the guy is that he is accessible. I sent a tweet his way about two years ago regarding sausage making and he wrote back immediately. I was totally impressed that the same guy who wrote some of the most important culinary books of a generation had time for my stupid little question. Very cool. I hope to meet him one day and hope he could enjoy my work one day as much as I have appreciated his.

Jared Van Camp's Profile Photo Jared Van Camp
Executive Chef
Old Town Social and Nellcôte
Chicago, IL

My favorite Ruhlman book is "The Soul of a Chef". I know "Charcuterie" may be the obvious answer, however, the truth is I re-read "The Soul of a Chef" at least once a year. The three different stories in the book provide completely different approaches, philosophies and attitudes towards being a professional chef. Each one always helps me put my own career into perspective.

Sean Sanders's Profile Photo Sean Sanders
Executive Chef/Owner
Chicago, IL

Micheal Ruhlman has been a great help in my culinary career. There have been many projects I was starting on then realized Mr. Ruhlman had already done the footwork for me. He is a great teacher through his books

Cleetus Friedman's Profile Photo Cleetus Friedman


we pretty much call CHARCUTERIE the bible around here.