I have used this book continuously in my studies and professional career for some 23 years now, first buying a copy in 1980 in my first year of catering school, when attending Monkwearmouth College in Sunderland.
Along with Practical Cookery, The Larder Chef and Le Repertoire de la Cuisine, The Theory of Catering was on my list of books to buy before even starting the course. I still have my very first dog-eared coffee-stained copy, along with two other editions, so what has this new 10th edition got to offer the newly arrived catering student?
Well, it's been revised to reflect changes in the industry, with each chapter being thoroughly updated to include product knowledge, menu planning, nutrition and hygiene, supervisory management and new chapters on genetically modified foods and the influence of the media.
In an industry that employs more than 7% of the total workforce with a £43b turnover each year, the challenge of doing business in the 21st century requires the chef, restaurateur or manager to increase productivity, to put out a product faster and of a higher quality and at a lower cost in order to increase profits. This book encourages students to think about their subject in these terms.
It's a reference point, a useful research tool, well laid-out and user-friendly, particularly in its sections on organisation and business development. It's invaluable for students to have a good basic knowledge of these concepts before leaving college. To run a business in the hospitality sector is not solely about food but being able to deliver the whole package, and the book succeeds in giving a grounding in the concepts which are geared towards industry requirements.
This is not a completely comprehensive book on the hospitality industry, but a guide which outlines the firm foundations for successful business that every student needs to know in the fast-changing environment we work in.
It gives students a solid training in the basics, simple-to-follow practical ways for day-to-day running of kitchens - priceless information at whatever level of training they're at, NVQ through to degree courses.
It's my guess that this is still one of the country's best-selling theory books on the subject of catering, even if it's one of the least glamorous to appear in the bookshops. It has no sexy photos, no celebrity chef endorsing it - just chapter after chapter of the terminology, materials and products used in the professional catering industry to prepare students for the environment ahead of them.
Mark Allison is chef-lecturer at Neath Port Talbot College
The Theory of Catering (10th revised edition)
Professor David Foskett, Victor Ceserani and Ronald Kinton
£19.99, Hodder & Stoughton