From the kitchens of 48 of America's great chefs and cookbook authors comes "Trucs of the Trade," an interesting video offering 93 tricks and gimmicks that can enable you to cook better, faster, healthier and, most of all, have more fun. At the least, you'll certainly impress anyone watching.

Truc? It's a French noun meaning trick, gimmick or shortcut used in cooking. A real truc is genuinely helpful.

The video is from J2 Communications (1-800-448-2449), runs 72 minutes and lists for $19.99.

Unless you are a culinary aficionado, many of the names of the featured chefs and authors are not as familiar as the famed restaurants where they do their trucs, legendary eateries such as Routh Street Cafe in Dallas, Le Cirque in New York, the Rattlesnake Club in Detroit, and City in Los Angeles.

A couple of authors have interesting contributions to the video. Craig Claiborne shows you how to "cut and present a mango," a skill he picked up several years ago in Bali. Rose Beranbaum says after you cut a cheesecake her way, "you'll never cut it any other way again." Use dental floss, preferably mint-flavored. After the cut, don't pull the string up, but pull it out from the side of the cake -- which hardly appears to be sliced when you've finished. (By the way, the author's mother was a dentist.)

Anne Rosenzweig of New York's Arcadia tells how to make the perfect hamburger, a technique she developed at the 21 Club. She includes a cube of herb-and-shallot butter in the center of the patty. Other meat preparation tips -- oops, trucs -- include making sausage without casing and using wine corks to tenderize meat dishes (and in some cases, cut cooking time in half).

You're shown how to carve out a salmon fillet in seconds, and you learn an equally swift way to clean a soft-shell crab and open an oyster. You even learn how to smoke oysters or scallops in a skillet.

Many tricks to preparing vegetables, desserts and even serving wines are included as well as how to open a quail egg, how to tell a fresh egg from a hard-boiled egg, how to soften tortillas before rolling, how to save a cream sauce that has curdled, how to bake potato wafers on a copper pipe, and how to quick-brown a fancy dish by using a torch.