The Ultimate 80/20 Guide To The 4-Hour Chef: Tools, Tricks, Cheats, Summaries and Tables

Each of the product recommendations below are from Tim Ferriss in The 4 Hour Chef.  They are organized by chapter for convenience.

Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.  Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.  Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Choose Your Category:  Meta Learning | The Domestic | The Wild | The Scientist | The Professional

 Meta Learning (More Links and Resources Coming Soon!)

META is where you’ll learn to mimic the world’s fastest learners. It is possible to become world-class in just about anything in six months or less. Armed with the right framework, you can seemingly perform miracles, whether with Spanish, swimming, or anything in between.

D.S.S.S (DISS) The recipe for learning any skill

C.F.E (Café) Secondary principles that are helpful but not required.

  • Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units, the LEGO blocks, I should be starting with?
  • Selection: Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?
  • Sequencing: In what order should I learn the blocks?
  • Stakes: How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?
  • Compression: Can I encapsulate the most important 20% into an easily graspable one pager?
  • Frequency: How frequently should I practice?  Can I cram, and what should my schedule look like?  What growing pains can I predict?  What is the minimum effective dose (MED) for volume?
  • Encoding: How do I anchor the new material to what I already know for rapid recall? Acronyms DiSSS and CaFE are examples of encoding.

The Domestic: 

DOM is the mother lode. As you complete 14 core lessons, each taking no more than 20   minutes of prep (for our total of roughly 4 hours), you will learn the principles needed to cook thousands of dishes. Furthermore, “gear” (pots, pans, etc.) is severely restricted and introduced slowly, making costs gradual. As chef Tom Colicchio, famed restaurateur and head judge on Top Chef, has said: almost anyone can become a great cook with unlimited time and budget.

4 Hour Chef Lesson Calendar: Sample Month 1

4 Hour Chef Lesson Calendar: Sample Month 2


The Basics Week 1-2 ($143 – 184): 9 Items

The Basics Week 3-4 ($75-$90): 7 Items

This is based on Tim’s 2 meal per week meal plan. I have created a “1 click” Amazon Listmania List Amazon Listmania – 4 Hour Chef Basics Weeks 1-2.  Just scroll to the bottom and you can add all items easily.



image[27]Towels by Doctor Joe Blue 16″ x 25″ New Surgical Huck Towel, Pack


image[28]Lodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker



PanSaver EZ Clean Multi Use Cooking Bags and Slow Cooker Liners


image[30]Rada Cutlery Chefs Dicer, Made in USA, Aluminum Handle (R129) Tramontina ‘Old Colony’


image[31]Dexas Heavy Duty Grippmats, Set of 4 (alternative: MIU Flexible Cutting Board, Set of 5 )


image[32]Bialetti Aeternum Saute Pan, 8-Inch


image[33]OXO Good Grips 5-Pound Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, Black


image[34]Star Peeler from ZenaOR  SwissKuhn Rikon Original 4-Inch Swiss Peeler, White


image[35]Wilton 570-1121 Easy Flex 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set, Blue
This is based on Tim’s 2 meal per week meal plan. I have created a “1 click” Amazon Listmania List here: Amazon Listmania – Basics Weeks 3-4



image[1][4]OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Locking Tongs with Nylon Heads


image[2][4]Kuhn Rikon SoftEdge Slotted 12-Inch Spatula, Red Edge and Handle


image[3]Gray Kunz Sauce Spoon


image[4]Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls – Set of 4


image[5]Chrome Plated Steel Footed Wire Plate Steam Rack


image[6]Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater


image[7]Polder Digital In-Oven Thermometer/Timer, Graphite (alternative: RT600C Super-fast Water-resistant Digital Pocket Thermometer )


The Basics Week 5-8 ($85): Two Items

This is based on Tim’s 2 meal per week meal plan. I have created a “1 click” Amazon Listmania List here: Amazon Listmania – Basics Weeks 5-8


imageDeLonghi DHB716 380-Watt Tri-Blade 2-Speed Handblender


imageWinware Professional Aluminum 24-Quart Stockpot

The 4-Hour Chef – Domestic The 80/20 Pantry

The 4-Hour Chef Top Gear – Domestic The Basics

The 80/20 Pantry

The Basics

Week 1-2 ($143 – 184) 9 items:

Weeks 3-4 ($75 – $90) 7 items:

Weeks 5-8 ($85) 2 items:

The 4-Hour Chef Top Gear – Domestic Extras and Upgrades

The 4-Hour Chef Top Gear – Domestic Shopping Spree

Extras and Upgrades

  1. OXO Good Grips 15-inch by 21-Inch Cutting Board, Black Edge
  2. John Boos RA03 24-by-18-by-2-1/4-Inch Reversible Maple Cutting Board
  3. Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
  4. Nutribiotic – Gse Liquid Concentrate, 2 fl oz liquid
  5. Isopropyl Alcohol (99% by Volume) 16 oz Plastic Container
  6. Tolco Empty Spray Bottle 8 oz. Frosted Assorted Colors
  7. Magnum Peppermill – 6-Inch
  8. OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner


Shopping Spree

The 4-Hour Chef Top Gear – Domestic The Obsessive World of Knives

The Obsessive World of Knives

  1. Wusthof 4183-7 Wusthof Classic 7-Inch Santoku Knife, Hollow Edge
  2. Miyabi Kaizen 6-Inch Chef’s Knife
  3. MAC MTH-80 8″ Chef’s Knife w/ Dimples
  4. Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
  5. Koring Knives
  6. Berti Knives

The Wild

“WILD” is where we step out of the kitchen and, while learning new techniques, connect firsthand with ingredients. On a personal level, how do you go farm-to-plate or field-to-plate? Put another way, do you have what it takes to cope with an extended power outage or a long camping trip? This section is intended to make you uncomfortable. It will force you to question yourself, your limitations, and your beliefs. View it as an exercise.



Amazon Listmania: 4 Hour Chef “Starters


Amazon Listmania: 4 Hour Chef “Extras


Guardian Two Person Survival BagGuardian Deluxe Survival 2 Person First Aid Emergency Kit


Leatherman Surge MultitoolLeatherman 830160 Surge Pocket Multitool with Nylon/Leather Sheath


Coghlan's Fire Past

Coghlan’s 8607 Fire Paste


Lockpick SetRada Cutlery Chefs Dicer, Made in USA, Aluminum Handle (R129) Tramontina ‘Old Colony’


Thermacell Bug Repellant ApplianceThermaCELL Cordless Portable Mosquito Repellent Appliance (Olive)


Trumark Wrist Braced SlingshotTrumark Slingshots Normal Pull Slingshot


Daisy 1 and 4 Slingshot AmmoDaisy Outdoor Products Steel Slingshot Ammo (Black, 1/4 Inch)


Magnesium Fire StarterDOAN MACHINERY Magnesium Fire Starter


Highgear Trail Torch Mini LanternHigh Gear Mini Trail LiteorColeman MicroPacker Compact Battery Lantern


Self Locking SnaresSelf-Locking Snares


Outdoor Aluminum Dutch OvenDutch Oven Aluminum – Available in Several Sizes


Gill NetSurvival Gill Net


Cornibear 110 or Duke 110 TrapONEIDA VICTOR CONIBEAR TRAPor1/2 Dozen (6 PAK) Duke 110 Single Spring Body Trap for Mink, Muskrat, and Weasel


All In One Fishing Survival KitSurvival Fishing Kit – Standard Version


TanneriteTannerite 20 Pack 1/2 Pounders


Fit Tarp 10 by 12Texsport Reinforced Rip-Stop Polyethylene Tarp (Camouflage, 10 x 12-Feet)


JBL 6 Foot Breakdown Travel Pole SpearJBL 6′ Breakdown Travel Polespear (2D72)

Starter Pistols and Binoculars

Hunting and Rigging Knives

 Amazon Listmania 4 Hour Chef Starter Pistols and Binoculars


22 caliber starter blank pistol.22 Caliber Starter Pistol


Vortex Viper HD BinocularsVortex Optics Viper HD 10×42 Roof Prism Binocular VPR-4210-HD
 Amazon Listmania 4 Hour Chef Hunting and Rigging Knives


Brian Goode B.Goode Utility KinifeBrian Goode “B. Goode” Utility Knife


Knives of Alaska Suregrip Jaeger Muskrat Kinfe ComboKnives of Alaska Suregrip Jaeger/Muskrat Knife Combo


Helle HardingHelle Harding Knife


Buck Kinfe Special 119Buck 0119BKS-B Special Fixed Blade Knife


Davis Deluxe Rigging KinfeDavis Instruments Deluxe Rigging Knife


Havalon PirantaHavalon Piranta-EDGE with Blaze Orange Handle with 12 additional Crazy Sharp Blades


AccusharpAccu Sharp 008 OD Texas Black Knife Sharpener

Collectible Knives

“Tactical” Knives

Amazon Listmania: 4-Hour Chef Tactical Knives


Massai Warrior SwordMaasai Warrior Sword


Napalese Khukuri
  1. Nepalese Khukuri


ESEE-5ESEE-5 Serr Olive Drab Textured Poweder Coated Blade Drop Point Style 1095 Carbon Steel-57 Rc


Benchmade Marc Lee KnifeBenchmade Killian Design Marc Lee Glory Knife with BK1 Coating and FB Sheath


Grayman West Nile WarriorGrayman West Nile Warrior 7.5″


Boker Gaucho Bowie Recurve With Kraton HandleBöker Gaucho Bowie Recurve with Kraton Handle

The Scientist

SCI is where we’ll explore the questions “What if?” and “Why not?” Making ice cream in 30 seconds? Hitting 26 restaurants in 24 hours? Eating 15,000 calories in 20 minutes? It’s all nuts, but as the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “Oh, you can’t help that. Most everyone’s mad here.”

In the process of learning about the science of food (without really trying), you’ll also learn tricks for next-generation fat loss. For instance, how can you consume 600% of your normal daily calories without getting fat… or while losing fat? Biochemical sleight of hand, of course. My specialty. Above all, let’s resurrect your childlike curiosity. Embrace the absurd, from forgotten ingredients to spectacular new techniques, and consider it a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure buffet: skip around, pick your favorites, and ignore the rest. Nothing here is mandatory. Go nuts!


Choose Your Category: Antioxidants | Enzymes | Polymers | Amino Acids | Salts | Surfactants | Acids

Antioxidants – Slow down oxidation reaction


Ascorbic Acid (aka vitamin C)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Ascorbic Acid

Prevents browning of fruits and vegetables. Can also be used as a seasoning to add mouthwatering acidity, particularly to fruit-based dishes.For injury and sickness recovery, Tim dosed up to 20 g/ day orally with effervescent vitamin C. I’ve tested 50 + g via IV, but this must be done under close medical supervision, as you can become hypoglycemic if blood sugar isn’t monitored. Mega-dosing is not recommended.“Antioxidant; helps protect against free radical damage; essential for healthy bones, teeth, blood vessels, and collagen; may help support the immune system.”

Enzymes (increase the rate of chemical reactions)


Bromelain (derived from pineapples)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Bromelain

Meat tenderizer. A little goes a long way. When overused, you’ll turn delicious steak into mush. When used perfectly, you get something like the rare beef consommé in Modernist Cuisine.Tim doesn’t use this for digesting protein (humans are pretty good at that), but he depend on it for accelerating bruise healing. Tim uses 250 mg 3x/ day orally between meals, per the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. “Aids in the digestion of proteins; prevents swelling and muscle soreness.”


Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

So-called meat glue (even sold as “Moo Gloo”) forms bonds between proteins. In nature, it is an enzyme and clotting agent that heals wounds. In cooking, we might use it to turn chunks of stew meat into filet mignon. Wear rubber gloves unless you want webbed hands:

  • Mix the meat with the powder.
  • Wrap it tightly in cling wrap. • Refrigerate for 12 hours.
  • Voilà! That $ 5 meat has become $ 50 meat. Well… maybe. Some in the media claim they’re indistinguishable, but chef-scientist Chris Young would certainly disagree.
Not applicable.




Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Gelatin

Gelification. One of the most versatile gelling ingredients known to man. Nothing melts in your mouth the way gelatin does.“Improves bone/ joint/ tendon health; natural anti-inflammatory; shortens recovery time after exercise and sports-related injury.”

  • YouTube: Gelatin (Health Benefits)


Xanthan Gum

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Xanthan Gum

Emulsification, 5 stabilization, 6 and thickening. This is the closest thing the culinary world has to a gluten replacement. If you want to thicken something, whether making water like soup or soup like cement, xanthan gum can do the job. Useful for gazpacho (0.25% of total weight).“Good source of fiber; lowers blood sugar and cholesterol in diabetics.”

Sodium Alginate

(A component of the cell walls of colder-water brown seaweeds. It gives seaweed some of its flexibility to move with the motion of the ocean.)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Sodium Alginate

Spherification7 (when combined with calcium lactate), stabilization, and thickening. First used in the late 1940s, this ingredient became popular when chefs like Ferran Adrià used it to create faux caviar, faux egg yolks, etc. The pimentos in most olives are made this way. A pimento puree is made with alginate in it and then pumped into the center of a pitted olive, the calcium in the olive causes the alginate in the puree to set, and then you have a pimento-stuffed olive.Used by some as a chelator to remove heavy metals from the bloodstream. Highly controversial. I’d consider MD-supervised DMPS (2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonic acid) first.


Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

Stabilization and thickening.Maltodextrin falls somewhere between a simple sugar and a starch. It’s also a bulking agent used to create a syrup-like consistency (e.g., red-pepper puree) without unpleasant sweetness or masking of flavor. Plain maltodextrin shouldn’t be confused with tapioca maltodextrin. The product that can turn oils into powders is derived from tapioca maltodextrin (N-Zorbit, made by National Starch), but it is very different from plain maltodextrin, which won’t work for that purpose.“Helps sustain energy levels during endurance-oriented workouts and/ or athletic events; supports weight gain.”


(from red algae)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Agar-Agar

GelificationNot applicable.



(from red seaweed)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Carrageenan

Gelification, suspension, and thickening. The Irish have used this for hundreds of years to create panna cotta– like desserts that won’t melt when warm, unlike with gelatin.Not applicable.



Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

Sugar replacement in some confections; it is more resistant to humidity and crystallization, and it spikes insulin levels less than sucrose.Not applicable.




Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Glutamine

Can be combined with other sugars in a meat marinade to help produce greater Maillard reactions, contributing to the deliciousness of roasted chicken skin, toasted bread, or seared steak.Replaces glutamine lost in the body during high-intensity exercise. Tim routinely takes 8– 10 g post-workout. Used at high doses to help repair leaky gut syndrome (50– 80 g/ day in divided doses of 10 g), it can eliminate muscle soreness, even after high-rep squat workouts.


Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Glutamine

Reducing agent. Gluten gives dough its elasticity, and it also produces dome-like bread. So how do you get flat sides on hamburger or hot dog buns? Just add L-cysteine, an amino acid that interacts with sulfur bonds and also extends shelf life.L-cysteine is used to improve skin, hair, and skin conditions. It aids in the formation of structural proteins, such as collagen and keratin. Tim finds N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) more interesting for its effects on glutathione and taurine, particularly during multi-bout sports with 60 + minutes between sessions.

* D-Ribose

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Ribose

D-ribose is the backbone of many molecules and caramelizes at low temperatures (< 93.3 ° C/ < 200 ° F). Dust it on meat before grilling for unparalleled “meaty” flavor. It’s a modern secret ingredient in BBQ dry rubs, which typically contain paprika, brown sugar, allspice, etc. On the sweet side, it can be used in water to make fudgy caramel candies.Popular with power athletes (including me) for regenerating ATP. Has a synergistic effect with creatine supplementation, though Tim prefers to combine beta-alanine with creatine.“Enhances cardiac energy levels and supports cardiovascular metabolism; plays a role in supporting energy recovery during/ after exercise; may strengthen and support the body’s antioxidant defenses.”

* I think D-Ribose is interesting and may be worth a try!

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Whey Protein Isolate

Whey protein isolate (not “concentrate,” which spoils too easily) has an enormous number of uses. Found in Old Mother Hubbard’s “eating her curds [think cottage cheese] and whey,” whey is a fraction of milk. It can be used as a thickener, a gelling agent, a foaming agent, or to emulsify everything from vinaigrette to mayo. For mayo, you can even sub it for the egg yolk, starting with 0.5% by weight and adjusting as needed. It can be used to create gels; just combine your favorite liquid, 10% WPI by weight, and some calcium lactate (or nigiri salts used for tofu) to trigger the gelling. Tim’s favorite use is chocolate wine. It’s existed for hundreds of years, but here’s the modern method:

  • Melt and mix dark chocolate (it’s good for you) into a red dessert wine like Banyuls (around 50 ° C/ 122 ° F).
  • Blend well with an immersion blender and then let settle for a few hours (off heat) until the cocoa butter rises to the top. Skim off the fat and save the chocolate-flavored wine underneath.
  • Add 0.5% WPI (by weight) to the chocolate wine, warm to a nice drinking temperature (I like 55 ° C/ 131 ° F), and use an Aerolatte or similar foaming wand, or the hand blender, to froth it into a velvety texture.
Tim routinely uses unflavored WPI to satisfy the “30 grams within 30 minutes” fat-loss rule. He also consumes either 1 T coconut oil or almond butter to slow the uptake of amino acids, as WPI can act like the simple sugar of proteins: rapid rise and rapid fall into catabolism. Given the many sports and culinary uses it is economical to buy WPI in ridiculously sized jars.“May preserve muscle glycogen stores and help reduce the amount of protein breakdown during exercise.”



Calcium Lactate

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

Spherification (used to trigger gelling of alginate and other calcium-sensitive gelling compounds). Calcium lactate tastes better than calcium chloride, but you need to use three times as much.“Supports bone health.”

Sodium Citrate

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

Spherification, but also an emulsifying salt. This salt of citric acid is often used to soften “hard” water to aid spherification; if your water or liquid has too much calcium in it, you won’t be able to get things to successfully spherify. It’s also the secret to a great fondue, in which you want cheese that melts smoothly and not into lumps. The mark of a ruined fondue is separation: curd that burns on the bottom of your pot and a slick of oil floating on top. Traditionally, this was fixed in Switzerland by using low-quality, overly tart wine (high citric acid) that loosened up casein proteins, helping to keep the fondue emulsified and smooth. Luckily, it’s hard to find wine sufficiently bad anymore. Now the solution is what built the Kraft empire: sodium citrate. James Kraft used citrate as a melting salt to make it easy to cast cheese into cans and then sterilize the cans so that the cheese could be shipped unrefrigerated. Emulsifying salts are why Velveeta melts as smoothly as it does. But you can make your own Velveeta using real cheese. It’s easy:

  • Shred your favorite hard cheese. If you’re using a really mature cheese like a hard Parmesan, you should blend it with a softer, mild cheese for the best results.
  • Add a small amount of water or wine to a pot, add about 0.5% the weight of the cheese in sodium citrate to the liquid, and heat to dissolve.
  • Add the cheese a little at a time and stir until it all melts.
  • When the cheese is melted, you can adjust the consistency by adding more liquid to make it thinner, or you can pour the molten cheese into a mold, wait for it to harden, and then slice it into your own singles.
Ingested by some athletes 90 minutes prior to race time for events 2– 15 minutes in duration. Orally dosed sodium citrate (often at 0.5 g per kg body weight) quickly degrades into sodium bicarbonate— baking soda— which has been demonstrated to improve performance in events 1– 7 minutes in length.Empirically, I can say that there are high responders who see great endurance gains and nonresponders who see nothing at all. For anyone who tries it, use it near a bathroom the first time. It can cause rapid evacuation, if you catch my drift. Sodium citrate is hard to find at GNC, but the Internet provideth.



Soy Lecithin

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Soy Lecithin

Emulsification and thickening. Oil-based soy lecithin is used to make smooth chocolate and can be used to make a really smooth mayonnaise or salad dressing that won’t separate into oil and water over time. The “de-oiled” powder, on the other hand, can be used to make dish suds– like foam. El Bulli restaurant brought this to the forefront with a mignonette sauce (shallots, pepper, vinegar) “cloud” served on oysters in the half shell.“Helps the body emulsify fat; supports a healthy cardiovascular system, nervous system function, and liver function; supports normal choline levels during exercise.”



Malic Acid

(often derived from cherries or apples)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Gives food a tart/ sour flavor. Good food triggers a saliva response, which malic acid does in spades.Chris uses it to season many things (cherry puree, lentil salad) at the end of prep, just like you’d use a pinch of salt. It makes everything taste fresher.“Prolongs the body’s ability to produce energy during physical activity and reduces the onset of fatigue.”

The Professional (Coming Soon!)

The real question is: What makes someone a true “professional” in any field? In other words, what do the best have in common? To answer this, PRO is split into three sections: “Classics”— First, we’ll cover timeless dishes that embody near-universal principles. These are the must-haves you’re missing. It’s also time for the training wheels to come off. There is no more separation of prep and pickup, as you will need to learn to read (and mentally reformat) “standard” recipes after you graduate from this book. “Avant-Garde”— Second, we’ll push the envelope on everything. I mean EVERYTHING. This is a creative rite of passage. “DragonForce Chaconne”— Last, we have the grand finale… a near-impossible recipe. Don’t miss it. It’s a monster.



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Derek May 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

The Non-Stick Sauce pan has some really poor reviews on Amazon….most seem to be problematic after several months. I’d love to know other user experiences


Chris February 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I don’t own this so I can’t personally vouch for it, but this seems to be a good 8″ ceramic pan:


Charles June 12, 2013 at 11:50 am

What is the difference between:

Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units, the LEGO blocks, I should be starting with?
Selection: Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?

I am confused. What is the difference between the minimal units you start with and the ones you should focus on? Thanks Much!


Stephen June 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm
David A. June 5, 2014 at 3:39 am

I have 7 years of forex trading experience and I’m interested to use the 4 hour chef to accelerate this avenue for anyone to be trading Forex profitably in under 6 months.

I need your help and advise on how to understand which part of the trading that makes it profitable first. Then fast. I would appreciate if you could reply?

Regards David


Stephen June 5, 2014 at 10:59 am

Interesting David, I am not familiar with forex trading, you will have to enlighten me.

– Stephen


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