• Beaten, Seared, and Sauced



Beaten, Seared, and Sauced

On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America


From the publisher

Millions of people fantasize about leaving their old lives behind, enrolling in cooking school, and training to become a chef. But for those who make the decision, the difference between the dream and reality can be gigantic — especially at the top cooking school in the country.

For the first time in the Culinary Institute of America’s history, a memoir gives readers the firsthand experience of being a full-time student facing all of the challenges of the legendary course in its entirety.

On the eve of his 38th birthday and after shuffling through a series of unsatisfying jobs, Jonathan Dixon enrolled in the CIA (on a scholarship) to pursue his passion for cooking. In Beaten, Seared, and Sauced, he tells hilarious and harrowing stories of life at the CIA as he and his classmates navigate the institution’s many rules and customs under the watchful and critical eyes of their instructors.

Each part of the curriculum is covered, from knife skills and stock making to the high-pressure cooking tests and the daunting wine course (the undoing of many a student). Dixon also details his externship in the kitchen of Danny Meyer’s Tabla, giving readers a look into the inner workings of a celebrated New York City restaurant.

With the benefit of his age to give perspective to his experience, Dixon delivers a gripping day-to-day chronicle of his transformation from amateur to professional. From the daily tongue-lashings in class to learning the ropes — fast — at a top NYC kitchen, Beaten, Seared, and Sauced is a fascinating and intimate first-person view of one of America’s most famous culinary institutions and one of the world’s most coveted jobs.

Read a review of this book

Following a culinary passion

There is 1 comment on this item
Add a comment
1. by thomas cappiello on Aug 14, 2012 at 3:10 PM PDT

I really regret not staying a cook back in my youth, and really going for it as a career. At the time, there was no money or prestige but it was an open playing field for those who aspired and wanted in. So much of what Bourdain describes was real for me. Now everyone and their second cousins are into this and the field is so competitive and cut throat, I can’t imagine. I loved it, I loved having orders up the butt hanging and getting all done and plated and sent out and hopefully making people happy, such a rush. Cleaning up after midnight, getting friendly with the waitresses (or not-sometimes) and getting extra hours at the bar. I probably wouldn’t have the stamina to do it now unfortunately but would sure love a part time gig.

Add a comment

Think before you type

Culinate welcomes comments that are on-topic, clean, and courteous. For the benefit of the community we reserve the right to delete comments that contain advertising, personal attacks, profanity, or which are thinly disguised attempts to promote another website.

Please enter your comment

Format: Bare URLs are automatically linked; use this style: [http://www.example.com "place text to be linked here"] for prettier links. You may specify *bold* or _italic_ text. No HTML please.

Please identify yourself

Not a member? Sign up!

Please prove that you’re not a computer

All Books

Dinner Guest

The gamification of cooking

Earning points

Most of the time with cooking and eating, the rules are clear.

Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer


Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice