Continuing with my love of food writing I picked up Michael Gibney’s Sous Chef and liked it almost immediately. Gibney blends his journalistic style of writing into the Anthony Bourdain-world of being a chef that Gibney inhabits. This is by no means the first account of what it’s like to work in a kitchen of a restaurant, nor do I think it will be the last, but Gibney presents his story in a creative way telling the story in the form of “24-hours on the line.”
Gibney takes the reader through every stage of his day from ordering food to kitchen prep to staff tastings and finally closing and after work activities, giving a glimpse into the effect that the job can, and does have, on his personal life. Working such insane and unpredictable hours make it difficult to maintain friendships with people who don’t work in the industry. As Gibney writes however, he enjoys the people he does work with and the strong sense of camaraderie comes through in his writing.
The only complaint I have is the overuse of jargon. I can forgive this though, Gibney is a chef and writing with the terms he uses on a daily basis makes this an authentic experience. There’s also a glossary of terms at the back which was helpful. While this book isn’t a huge game changer it’s a quick paced and enjoyable look at the life of a sous chef.
This past weekend, Saturday Night Live held a three and a half hour live celebration of the show’s 40th anniversary. The special brought back favourite cast members and characters and did its best to stuff as many cameo appearances into as many sketches as possible. The show also features montages of some of the more memorable moments on the show. Everyone who was interviewed said the same thing, be it a host, a cast member or musical guest, that the experience was just so unreal.
Live From New York is an oral history of the show from its birth in 1975 to the 2002-2003 season when it was published. It is 600 pages long as is simply conversations with people who were involved with the show. Seeing all of these old sketches made me want to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, so I am looking forward to reading this.
I’ll admit, I used to think that owning your own restaurant would be the most amazing experience. Getting to design menus and create a dining experience seemed like it would be a fun thing to do. Then I read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, which immediately made me think twice. I love books that go behind the scenes and Bourdain did not disappoint. He provides a detailed account of the messy and chaotic environment of the kitchen and his own experiences with different restaurants. He also provides some interesting and useful information such as, when not to order seafood (Never on a Monday, as it’s normally left over from the weekend), and never to order your meat well done.
One of the ironies is, that in this book Bourdain looks down “celebrity chef” culture, but in recent years, has become a the same kind of celebrity chef that he so despises in his writing. I don’t really consider him a sell-out though. He’s a talented chef and a great writer, so gaining that celebrity status should not come as a huge shock.