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On page 158 of Genki 1, it has the sentence

ロバートさんは料理を作るのが上手です

Robert is good at cooking meals.

If I take the definitions of a couple of the words: 料理 = cooking 作る = making/preparing (food)

Then the phrase "料理を作る" should mean "preparing cooking". To me this doesn't make sense (the phrase "preparing cooking", as well as it not matching up with Genki's translation) because Genki's translation is "Robert is good at cooking meals".

If you want the sentence to mean "Robert is good at cooking meals", then shouldn't the sentence be:

"ロバートさんは食事を料理するが上手です" (I'm not sure if this is 100% correct, please correct me if I am wrong)

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"料理" isn't used only for 'cooking' but also 'meal'. In case of 'meal' meaning, it focuses on a cooker. That means 'meal' cooked by someone.

Let's see the search results of google images.

https://www.google.com/search?q=%E6%96%99%E7%90%86&sxsrf=ALeKk034AheUFmBQhcIqS4ibFIc5D_I82g:1589975590745&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi_nabSsMLpAhXYUt4KHZUrDpoQ_AUoAnoECA8QBA&biw=1326&bih=824

Merely '料理' shows photos of meals and recipes.

But when we search with '料理する', we get many 'cooking' photo.

https://www.google.com/search?q=%E6%96%99%E7%90%86%E3%81%99%E3%82%8B&sxsrf=ALeKk03Rk7CFnECu5tSeyOI0NgzBUZtkrw:1589975712887&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjLpsWMscLpAhURM94KHcJEDGgQ_AUoAXoECAwQAw&biw=1326&bih=824

This is our mental model of '料理'.
Mere '料理' focuses much on meal cooked, so we better to add '作る' or 'する' to express 'cooking'.

"ロバートさんは食事を料理するが上手です"

In your last example, 'の' or 'こと' after '料理する' is missing.

"ロバートさんは食事を料理するのが上手です"

This is good. But it still sounds redundant a little because under '料理する' situation '食事を' is obvious. So it's not needed. "ロバートさんは料理するのが上手です" sounds better.

Last of all, I said mere '料理' focuses much on 'meal' but there still is meaning of 'cooking'. We can also say "ロバートさんは料理が上手です"

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  • This was very well explained, thank you for taking the time to write this!
    – batv1
    May 20, 2020 at 12:31

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