Anyone can become a fast learner, says Tim Ferriss. The author of The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body, Ferriss spent the past year and a half researching ways to reduce the time it takes to master a new skill. The results are in his new book, The 4-Hour Chef.

Though The 4-Hour Chef is essentially a cookbook, Ferriss says it's really about learning. "I chose the skill I found to be the most intimidating," he says, "which was cooking." In the hefty 672-page book, Ferriss chronicles his learning process as he digs into the basics of food—as well as offbeat topics such as molecular gastronomy, outdoor survival, and competitive eating. Ferriss interviewed hundreds of people within and outside the culinary world, including Jeffrey Zurofsky, the co-founder of 'wichcraft restaurants in New York City, and Ed Cooke, a world memory champion.

Among recipes for gazpacho and roast chicken, Ferriss lays out his step-by-step guide to learning, which includes dividing things into manageable chunks and creating real consequences for not meeting goals. "I strongly believe if people read this and absorb it," he says, "they'll be able to cut the time to acquire any new skill by at least 50 percent."