By Rick Bayless
Chronicle Books, $29.95, 224 pages

Top Chef is a popular reality television cooking program on Bravo, and recently picked up an Emmy. Seven seasons in, it’s practically become a brand itself, with several spinoffs, merchandise for sale and, naturally, a series of successful cookbooks. How To Cook Like A Top Chef is the latest. What sets this book apart from the others is its focus on technique.

There are recipes, of course. Delicious and varied, and culled from the first six seasons, they are reason alone to pick up this gorgeous and colorful book. In addition to the usual assortment of mouth-watering recipes, How To Cook Like A Top Chef delves into the skills and techniques behind the dishes cooked on air, and functions as an essential how-to guide for anybody who enjoys cooking, regardless of skill level. With step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you along, you’ll learn how to properly slice and dice; filet a fish; prepare fresh pasta; and even plate your food with an artistic flourish.

Scattered among the recipes and instructional techniques are Q&A sessions with both contestants and well-known chefs like Wylie Dufresne and Eric Ripert, and a foreword by Rick Bayless, as well as fun pages devoted to biographies, global ingredients, and even top tattoos.

As for the food? The recipes run the gamut from appetizers to main courses and desserts, and are both common (Roasted Chicken and Potatoes) and exotic (Oil-Poached Arctic Char).

Perfect for either the die-hard fan, the casual viewer, or even somebody who has never seen the show, How To Cook Like A Top Chef is an incredibly useful cookbook that will have you returning to its pages again and again.

Reviewed by Mark Petruska