I love a good culinary memoir or nonfiction book. Although I am not a great cook myself, I love reading about people who are and who have chosen to make their careers in the competitive and fast-paced culinary world. Here are some of my favorites:
Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business by Matt Lee and Ted Lee (2019; 272 pages). Journalist brothers Matt Lee and Ted Lee actually worked as kitchen assistants to research this book and it shows – the book is a great combination of faced-paced culinary action and a history of catering. From prepping 200 entrees at a time to designing innovative new ways to present food to guessing what dishes will be a hit to coming up with a secret vegetarian option, this book gives you an inside look at something you probably never thought twice about. The next time you’re at a wedding or a conference, you’ll be sure to wonder what’s going on behind the curtain.
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl (2019; 266 pages). Ruth Reichl is a prolific food writer. A restaurant critic for many years, in 1999 she accepted a job as Gourmet magazine’s editor. This memoir talks about those years in her career. When she started, Reichl had no idea how to run a magazine – she didn’t even know the lingo and had to ask for help deciphering what was going on. But she quickly got her feet under her and started bringing new ideas and seeking out new ideas from her editors, turning the magazine into a very successful publication. Her memoir is personable and enjoyable for anyone who enjoys reading about the food world or the publishing world. There’s still a long holds list for this new book, but we do have a copy in our Lucky Duck collection, so visit soon and see if you can skip the line!
Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney (2014; 240 pages). In this fast-paced book, Michael Gibney explores 24 hours in the life of a sous chef at a New York restaurant. What goes into that excellent plate of food you just ate? Giney’s there with all the hard work and exhausting hours that it takes to work in food. I loved this book – it’s a quick read and a fascinating peek into the kitchen of a busy restaurant. If you like the show Top Chef, you should definitely check out this book. And guess what? This is a book that the Floyd County Library doesn’t actually own, BUT you can check out the downloadable audiobook from the Jeffersonville Library (did you know we have reciprocal Overdrive borrowing with Jeffersonville Library and Charlestown Clark County Library?) OR request the print book from another Indiana library via SRCS (did you know we can get print books for free from all over the state?). If you need help with finding available books at other Indiana libraries, please ask and we would be happy to help you!
Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson (2012; 319 pages). Born in Ethiopia, orphaned during the Ethiopian Civil War and adopted by a couple in Sweden, Marcus Samuelsson had a remarkable life even before he became a world-famous chef. In this memoir, he shares about his childhood and his family in Sweden and his path to becoming a chef, inspired by his material grandmother in Sweden, with whom he cooked pan-fried herring, freshly baked bread, and roast chicken. At age 24, he was the youngest chef ever to be given a three-star restaurant review from the New York Times. If you have ever wondered what the life of a celebrity chef is like, this is a great book to find out. We have the downloadable audiobook, read by the author, available through Overdrive, but remember you can always request the print book from another library in Indiana via SRCS.
— Abby Johnson, Collection Development Leader