Book Cover
  • 28th June 2018

Tim Ferris – The 4-Hour Chef

The 4-Hour Chef is not your typical cookbook. In this book, you learn how to pimp up your measly cooking skills in record time, and at the same time, you learn how to learn anything!

Book Cover

What is the 4-Hour Chef about?

The 4-Hour Chef is not your typical cookbook. In this book, you learn how to pimp up your measly cooking skills in record time, and at the same time, you learn how to learn anything!
As you might have checked by now, this is not a cooking blog but a psychology blog about my journey of getting better.
After studying years behavior and clinical psychology I became more and more interested in the memory and learning disciplines of psychology. For me learning is a power, so looking for hacks to learn faster means to develop a superpower.
The 4-Hour Chef is a book about accelerated learning / meta-learning a disguised as a cooking book.
So it is a meta-learning book first and foremost, that uses cooking as an example to show you how you get world class in record time in any subject you desire.
The 4-Hour Chef is a 5-step journey through the art and science of learning how to cook like a pro.

So what are the 5- steps?

1. Meta-Learning

In this part of the 4-Hour Chef explains his accelerated learning models that promise to become world-class in about six months or less. He uses amazing examples from memory champions, athletes who succeeded despite their poor talent, to chess prodigies like Josh Waitzskin who became world class in different disciplines.

2. The Domestic

Here you will learn by the 80/20 rule the principles needed to cook thousands of dishes. Here he explains how to use basic gear( pots, pans, etc.) Here you learn the building blocks of cooking. these are the ABCs of cooking.

3. The Wild

Wild is where you step out of the kitchen and learn new techniques and connect firsthand with the ingredients.
Ranging from how to cook over fire, to how to cook a squirrel. In here you learn to reconnect with the ingredient and teaches you to hunt, forage and survive. (1)

4.The Scientist

In the Scientist, Tim Ferris explains 14 chemical reactions he thinks to provide a better understanding of food and taste.
Examples include dehydration to how to make crunchy bloody marys.

5. The Professional

Based on the first 4 chapters you learn how the best in the world came to be how you can get your cooking game to the next level and make complex dishes.

Who is Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris is an American best selling author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed”human guinea pig”. He is most famous for his self-help books. You might have heard of his book “The 4- Hour Workweek. But what he is most famous for is his Podcast the Tim Ferris show which has over 80 million downloads. In his Podcast, Tim Ferris interviews world experts and masters of any field imaginable. Guests like Peter Diamandis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Fox, Dave Asprey and other incredible high achievers.

The older I get the more time I spend – as a percentage of each day on crafting better questions. In my experience, going from 1 x to 10 x, from 10 x to 100x and from 100x to 1000x returns in various areas has been a product of better questions.

Tim Ferris

It is Tim Ferris mission to decode human greatness. He interviews high achievers of any kind in order to find emulatable commonalities among the top 1%ers of the world. Coming from a psychological background listening to his podcast was a true game changer for me. For me, interesting people are case studies. And up to this point, I only knew about case studies that were in the unsuccessful/unhappy part of the spectrum. Tim Ferris gave me 280 amazing human brains to dissect. He was called “Oprah of Audio”, which to me is by far the weirdest praise I ever heard. If you haven’t checked him out, stop reading this article right now and check out his blog. Click here to see his blog. I also wrote an article about him where I deconstructed how he asks questions. Click here to read it.

Two must know concepts of the 4-Hour Chef


This is my favorite piece of work form the 4-Hour Chef and from Tim Ferris in general. This model is an acronym for learning any skill in record time.


What are the minimal learnable units, the LEGO blocks that I should start with?
In here Tim Ferris explains four primary tools that allow you to throw a lot on the wall and see what sticks. This part of Tim Ferris meta-learning approaches deal with the question ;

How do I break this into manageable pieces?

Each letter of the DISSS acronym stands for a technique.
Deconstruction in the 4-hour chef stands for.


Like Tim Ferris, I had the great Idea of learning Japanese. For people who never tried to learn Japanese, that is 1,945 characters. Fuck me. Where do I start?
Reducing means that you start with learning the absolute essentials. So with Japanese instead of starting with all 1,945 characters, you start with the building blocks: Hiragana. You can learn the basic alphabet in a week in my opinion. A great way to learn it is dr mookus hiragana. Click here to check it out.  I also wrote a technique on how to learn anything fast using the memory palace technique, click here to check it out. The most complex letters in Japanese have about 15 strokes. For comparison, the most complicated letters in English are E and W, every four strokes. So reducing is a necessity if you don’t want to lose your mind and your motivation.


A great way of getting started is to look for the world leading experts and ask them how they did it. Tim Ferris suggests that one should start by interviewing people who are currently not in the limelight. This was a great aha moment that leads me to the decision that I should start a podcast and start to interview amazing people.

Whatever problem you have today, there is a human out there who faced the same problem, and who is totally crushing it right now. Click here to check out my podcast. Also had to spam you, but I wrote an article about how to get a mentor, and in there is an example of how you can approach high achievers and ask them for advice, click here to read that.


One of Tim Ferris best questions is: What if I did the opposite?

In his book, he gives an example that fires that are built opposite to the common believe burn much better.
I think this is true in life also. When I tried to deconstruct mental illness, and depression, in particular, I asked myself often what the opposite side of behavior would like, and if the cure is hidden there.
And this has to lead me ultimately to a very intensive phase of studying happy and successful people.


In here Tim Ferris uses a technique that allows you to understand the grammar of any language in 1 or 2 hours. WTF!
He studied Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, born 1774. The charming Italian could speak as much as 72 languages! He is the most hyperpolyglot.
Instead of learning languages with normal grammar books he had native speakers recite the Lord’s prayers. this passage gave him an overview of nearly all important grammatical structures( direct object, indirect object, noun, cases, possessives)(1)
Tim Ferris has a 12 sentence exercise that he calls the “Deconstruction Dozen”,
Here are the lines. Translate this and you are good to go!

The apple is red.
It is John’s apple.
I give John the apple.
We give him the apple.

He gives it to John.
She gives it to him.
Is the apple red?
The apples are red.

I must give it to him.
I want to give it to her.
I`m going to know tomorrow.
(I have eaten the apple.)
I can`t eat the apple.


  • Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% of the outcome I want?

The common approach to learning a language is to learn for example every vocabulary of food.
Tim Ferris suggest in the 4-Hour Chef that you start with the words that are most frequently used.
The Oxford English Dictionary contains roughly around 171,476 words. Good luck learning all of them. However, learning the 100 most used words give you 50% of the practical use of 171,476 words!

If you start by going through all words, it will take you 25 years plus to remember all of them. And you will quit 10 times before you mastered this language. Learning the most frequently used words will make you conversational in up to 2 months. Click here to read to 100 most common words of the English language.


  • In what order should I learn the blocks?

Here in the 4-Hour Chef, Tim Ferris emphasizes the importance of sequencing. An easy example is that you first need to learn the alphabet before you are able to read a book.
Here it is important to look for teachers who can show you what you can ignore. Not learning something is as important as learning something.


  • How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?

A classic example here would be that you want to create the habit of working out. You tried it over and over at home, but you always stop. What you want to have is a system that raises your personal accountability. If you train with a partner, not going to the gym is much harder because you ditch your training partner and he will be mad.
Let’s say you want to lose some weight. You can in order to raise the stakes give them 100$ and you only get it back if you lose 5 pounds in 1 month.
A funny way to raise stakes that Tim Ferris suggest is the site stick or economics Lab. There you are forced to donate money to an anti-charity if you don’t meet your goal.

CaFE Model

“I am sorry for the lenght of my letter, but I had not the time to write a short one.”

The second meta-learning is the CaFE Model.
We live in the information age, meaning that we are bombarded with huge amounts of information. Simplifying skills is a necessity.

Compression: Cheat Sheets for Anything

In learning, everything is allowed. Tim Ferris suggests creating a compressed Cheat Sheet.
Here you try to fit the entire skill into one page. The idea is to make a big skill, that is intimidating small. In the one-pager, you should focus on the basic rules, and principles and some real-world examples.


Here he emphasizes the importance of frequency. One of the biggest reasons why people fail at learning languages, for example, is in my opinion because they do a bad job at deciding what daily dose of learning they need in order to become fluent in the targeted skill.
Here ask yourself; how much minutes do I need to invest every day in order to become fluent in my desired time?
A number of polygons say that 22 minutes is enough to get fluent in a language in 6 months.
What people often do is that they learn extremely hard for a couple of days, then burn out and lose their motivation.
Also, people do a horrible job at defining their goals. Learning Spanish, for example, is a horrible goal. It has no timeline, no achievable milestone and it does practicing on your personal biological limits.
If you want to get in shape, for example, the habit of working out daily is much more important than the workout.


Here you learn how to make information stick. Our brain is actually really bad when it comes to remembering abstract symbols like numbers and letters. Where our brain excels at though is remembering pictures and locations. I explain this principle in my memory palace article. Click here to read it. Watch the video below to get an idea of how your brain learns best. In the video, you learn the Japanese alphabet hiragana in 60 seconds!

The 4-Hour Chef is full of examples of how to remember a deck of cards in 60 seconds, how to learn incredible long numbers fast and much more examples.

What I don’t like

I loved this book from start to end. What repelled me at the beginning: it is really long! 670 pages is quite the book. And if you are not a weirdo like me who loves to spend days putting your nose into geeky learning books than this might be too big to tackle. Otherwise, I have nothing to complain. Great book. And for 30 bucks, as always with books a bargain in my opinion.



Call to Action

Here is some homework for you.
  1. Make a list of skills that you want to learn in 2018
  2. Now use the DISSS model!
  3. Use the Cafe Model to create a cheat sheet!
  4.  Check out
  5. Check out
  6. Check out

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