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The Professional Chef for iPad

A seminal culinary textbook goes digital in this all-inclusive app

by James Thorne in Food + Drink on 31 October 2011

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For the last decade, the chefs at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) have been publishing The Professional Chef, an industry-standard textbook for aspiring cooks. Now available on the iPad, the significant volume has been given a much more accessible interface for professionals and home cooks alike. With 415MB of content under the hood, the e-book's 36 chapters include 850 recipes, 100 videos, and 175 diagrams, not to mention 750 photographs of the final product. Powered by Inkling's interactive template, the app is set up to to be efficiently used as a learning tool. That means that you'll spend less time searching for things and more time studying them. Culinary students can even test their kitchen knowledge with the built-in quizzes.

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Content-wise, there are few apps that can rival The Professional Chef. The ingredients index covers all the food you're likely to encounter in an international kitchen, explaining useful information like standards of quality, seasonal availability, and production techniques. It's intelligently organized, and we were impressed to see their breakdown of cheese—fresh, rind-ripened, semisoft, hard, grating, and blue-veined—which can be a bit overwhelming to neophytes. The diagrams are especially useful if you're used to relying on a butcher but want to get more hands-on with your food.

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The technical aspect of cooking is something that the app handles especially well, with video demonstrations from CIA's own chefs. Things like how to properly disjoint a rabbit, sharpen a knife on a wet-stone, and cook something sous-vide require detailed explanations from experienced professionals. You will also learn about tools of the trade like china caps, cheesecloth, and salamanders (no, not the amphibian).

The app is supremely navigable, and it's easy to get sucked into browsing everything from terms to recipes to boning techniques. While intended for use in and around the kitchen, it's just as enjoyable to explore while lounging on the sofa. With integrated hyperlinks and the iPad's swipe to menu feature, the app is infinitely more convenient than 1056-page print edition. At around $50, it's an investment, but one that will easily justify itself for cooking fanatics. Available now on iTunes. Alternatively, the book is available in the Inkling Reader where you can buy chapters individually for $3 each.

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