Culinary Arts Chair’s Books Deliver Cooking Techniques to Chefs, Households

The list of Joliet Junior College culinary textbook authors continues to grow. 

Chef Mike McGreal holding a copy of his textbook, "Culinary Arts Principles and Applications."
Chef Mike McGreal holds a
copy of his textbook,
"Culinary Arts Principles and Applications."
Credit: Joliet Junior College

For Chef Michael McGreal, JJC’s Culinary Arts Department chair, he’s published two textbooks within the last year - “50 Effective Knife Techniques” and “Culinary Arts Principles and Applications.” His JJC colleague, Chef Andy Chlebana, also published a book in 2017. 

Both of McGreal’s books begin with the fundamentals, such as how to properly hold and work a knife, before offering advanced techniques. 

“I hope the books inspire people to cook, apply knife techniques and prepare foods that they were once afraid to tackle,” he said. 

According to McGreal, The American Technical Publishers originally contacted him to submit content for a different food preparation book it was revising. After submitting his first chapter, the publisher offered McGreal a contract to write his own textbook, “Culinary Arts Principles and Applications.”  

“I remember how honored I was that they would offer something like this to me,” he said.  

The process of writing the script, which took him three years, was a “true labor of love,” said McGreal. 

The book includes recipes that readers can practice. 

“There are not too many classes or books that allow you to eat your homework!” he jokes. 

“50 Effective Knife Techniques” includes a DVD with step-by-step knife demonstrations; every technique taught in JJC’s entire two-year program.

McGreal doesn’t currently teach the classes that would use his books. But they are used by the school’s butchering, cooking and food preparation instructors. 

McGreal says that he doesn’t know how many copies of each book have sold, but knows that they are being used at many culinary schools across North America and in homes. 

“To think that some of the lessons I teach and recipes I created are perched prominently on kitchen counters in homes across America, I’m truly proud and honored to know I am also going to somehow be a part of that family’s meals and nourishment.”

When someone orders a book as gift, McGreal stops by the publisher to sign a personal note in each copy. 

McGreal has served as JJC’s Culinary Arts Department chair for 19 years. 

“Teaching in general is such an honorable profession, but teaching culinary to such interested culinary students at JJC is truly more wonderful than words can explain.”

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