Respected culinary schools across America have experienced a crippling dropout rate in student enrollment since recent publication of the gastronomically innovative book, A Microwaveable Feast. The book, which highlights nearly 40,000 microwave-centric recipes, quickly topped the bestseller list after hitting shelves late this summer.
Soon after, kitchen-classrooms emptied.
"Listen, I've been searching for that missing spiritual link between food and humanity all my life. I paid to go to school! But when I turned the pages of A Microwaveable Feast, it was like I'd just uncovered the Dead Sea Scrolls of culinary artistry," said Dwayne Richards, a former student at L'Academie de Cuisine. "Nothing else mattered," Richards continued, his eyes noticeably tearing up.
Enrollment rates at schools like The Culinary Institute of America have been cut in half since the book's publication. And not all of the enrollment reductions have been voluntary. When a leading chef and instructor questioned his class on the final steps of a 14-hour traditional French beef-broth recipe, a hush filled the room after a student in the back of the class murmured, "Microwave it."
The student, unnamed, was promptly dismissed.
Though informative and brave in their approach to culinary brilliance, the book's authors are vague when describing the initial discovery process of what they call "microwave magic" - the exact moment when they realized they'd struck gold. As stated in the preface, "When you close the door to that small, magical box, you're delivering uncooked food into an unknown dimension. There's no telling what happens in those 2-14 minutes."
What they do know: the results are delicious.
The book is accessible, too. Each recipe is restricted to a minimalistic four steps: prep, cook, wait and eat. Though, in actuality, each recipe only requires three steps, as the fourth and final step of each recipe redundantly directs readers to "Eat up, or chow down!"
Endorsements of the book by leading chefs have skyrocketed. And, for the first time in history, the Michelin Guide has classified the book itself as a physical restaurant, awarding it a coveted two stars. A respected chef and author, well-known for his eating and drinking television show on the Travel Channel, was ecstatic about the book's success: "You can microwave a Turducken! Who knew?"
And it's not just the culinary crowd the book is pleasing. Environment-friendly proponents of the book-and of the microwave-have emphasized the green nature of microwaveable cooking, as they require 50 to 60 percent less energy than conventional ovens.
Inspired by the book, manufacturers are currently researching the possibility of using microwaves during the production process of retail goods. "When we were growing up, it was always 'don't put this or that in microwave.' Now, we're asking 'what else can we put in a microwave?'" said a toy manufacturer in Chicago.
The authors of A Microwaveable Feast are thrilled with the unexpected success of the book. But they maintain a low-profile in the media, choosing instead to "put their tongues back to the grindstone," to write and edit their next culinary publication, tentatively highlighting other cooking technologies. "There's a lot about toasters we don't know," the authors said. "So that's a great place to start."
Cherio writes on behalf of Sears and other brands she uses.