After graduating from Duke University and stints in journalism and odd jobs, Michael Ruhlman a devoted amateur cook since fourth grade proposed to the Culinary Institute of America, the oldest and most influential professional cooking school in the country, that he be allowed into its kitchen classrooms in order to write a narrative of how the school trains professional chefs. The school agreed, and he wrote The Making of a Chef (1997). Michael became so fascinated by the work of the professional cook and the culture of the restaurant kitchen that he continued to pursue the work, punching a clock briefly as a line cook, then writing a book about chefs and cooking, The Soul of a Chef (2000). Michael co-wrote The French Laundry Cookbook (2000) with Thomas Keller at the same time, and they subsequently wrote a food column for the Los Angeles Times for two years and, last year, Bouchon, a book about perfecting French bistro cuisine. He also wrote A Return to Cooking (2002) with Eric Ripert, chef-owner of Le Bernardin, the Manhattan four-star restaurant. Michael continues to live in Cleveland and is currently working on a cookbook with Brian Polcyn on charcuterie for the home cook a love song to the pig, to animal fat, and to salt, sausages, confits, patés, and terrines.