I mentioned that I got to meet Chef Shawn Bucher at LDSBA this week, but it wasn’t the first time I had heard about his book. there are so many cookbooks out there, I wondered what made this one different.

One peek at the inside answered that question.

The opening paragraph of the introduction reads:

You will have to learn to think for yourself if you’re going to read this book. There, I said it. This book is not for someone who is looking for another collection of recipes. This is a book that will teach you haw to look at food, decide what you want to do with it, and then do it. This is the book that you start with when learning, or relearning, how to cook. This is the book that will lay the groundwork to enable you to create whatever you want.

How true his words are. He starts out with principals of food safety, then covers topics such as menu planning and how to set the table–always nice if you’re like me and you can’t remember if the spoon and knife go on the right or left (it’s the right, by the way. I know because it shows a picture on page 9).

He then goes on to discuss (and show pictures) of pans, knives, cutting board, and other cooking essentials. there’s a chapter on the right way to cut vegetables so you don’t cut yourself, but get the job done efficiently, and one on cooking with wet heat (boiling, poaching, braising) vs, dry heat (grilling/broiling, baking).

Then you learn how to cook various kinds of meat, how to cut or process various fruits and vegetables, even how to chop up fresh herbs–and the best part is every section comes with plenty of pictures, which are essential in this kind of book. he also discusses processing and cooking rice, potatoes and pasta, and then ends the book with explanations of various cooking terms like deglazing and making a roux.

Seriously, this book will take the guess work out of all of the other cookbooks you have, teaching you how to preparing the food, and safe methods on how it’s done. Every beginning cook should have this book–as well as some of us who’ve been cooking for a while, and are ready to become a bit more adventurous.

You can learn more about Chef Shawn, read his blog, or learn where to register for a class near you by checking out his website. The First-Timer’s Cookbook can be purchased at Amazon.com here.

But, if you leave me a comment and tell me how much you desperately want this book, I’ll include you in a drawing to win a autographed copy he’s letting me give away (No one gets to have my copy, sorry.). Deadline to enter is midnight Thursday, Sept 10.