24 Hours on the Line
Everyone has eaten in a restaurant but do you have any idea of what’s involved in getting your food to the table? The small glimpses garnered from the Food Network and other cable TV shows merely hint at what is involved. Here, Gibney defines it for us and takes us along on his wild ride.
This is the first book written in second person that I ever loved – and I mean loved it. I read it in one sitting. Dibney takes us through 24 hours in the life of a sous chef, the second in command in a kitchen. In effect he makes the reader a fly on the wall of his kitchen.
The restaurant is nameless, but is described as a neighborhood French restaurant that is upscale for sure, but not the toast of New York City. We meet the crew, from the executive chef, the man in charge, through the line cooks, prep cooks,and even the dishwashers. Front of house staff – the servers, waiters, et al, – are merely on the fringe here. This is a book about cooking.
Everyone here is passionate but not everyone is ambitious, which is probably a good thing. Kitchens can be very competitive, and indeed Gibney describes competitions he has with himself in putting together his mise en place. But it is serving the customer that is at the heart of this kitchen.
The pacing is relentless, the writing superior, and all in all this is just a fascinating read. I loved it.
6/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
SOUS CHEF: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney.Ballantine Books (March 25, 2014). ISBN 978-0804177870. 240p.