Practical Cookery (ninth edition) – Victor Ceserani, Ronald Kinton and David Foskett

30 July 2001
Practical Cookery (ninth edition) – Victor Ceserani, Ronald Kinton and David Foskett

When I was a student I used the 1981 edition of Practical Cookery, and the main difference between that version and the new, ninth, edition is the inclusion of a section highlighting the working environment. This incorporates information on teamwork, communication and self-development - the building blocks of any successful kitchen.

This edition also covers a lot more theory and this provides a firm foundation for first- and second-year students.

Other strengths in the book are a comprehensive pastry section which, although quite dated, still carries the essential techniques and science necessary for pâtisserie - fundamentals that still adapt to most modern desserts; and an extensive glossary.

In addition, an excellent cross-referencing of recipes and methods helps the reader to understand techniques fully, and the book isalso straightforward when describing complex dishes.

However, I feel that the canapés in the book are dated, and perhaps in the next edition some thought could be given to the non-menu extras that play such an important part in the dining experience. The photography, too, could do with a face-lift.

But the book achieves its stated objective of covering a wider variety of subjects in greater depth than in previous editions. And it's not only students who will benefit from it - it could certainly be used as a reference book by chefs in their first couple of years of full-time employment.

by John Campbell, head chef and director of food and beverage, Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire.

I am already using the ninth edition of Practical Cookery to teach this year's intake of students taking Westminster College's Professional Chef Diploma and I feel that it is the best version yet.

In the past, I have used the book in conjunction with other texts, but this edition is very detailed and comprehensive, and slanted much more towards modern-day culinary education. Having said that, I would like to see more modern concepts in the recipes and recipe development.

As a learning tool, the book is well laid-out and user-friendly, particularly in its new sections on NVQ core units, healthy eating, ethnic dishes and the use of convenience foods. I like the fact that it incorporates new concepts which are geared towards industry requirements - but this could be developed further.

The book encourages students to think about their subject - it is a reference point for recipes and a useful research tool. I would also say that parts of the book could be used in secondary education.

However, though the food photography is good, some of the plate presentation photographs could be improved, especially those illustrating hors d'oeuvres, salads and cold prep.

But the book does succeed in giving first-year student chefs a basic understanding of cooking and its related areas, despite its old-fashioned presentation. Perhaps, too, it could be published in a soft-cover format - the new sections make the hard-backed version very heavy to carry around.

by Peter Richards,chef-director, Westminster College, London.

Practical Cookery (ninth edition), Victor Cesarani, Ronald Kinton and David Foskett. Hodder & Stoughton, £19.99.
ISBN 0-340-74941-5

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