A revealing look at the strange things that go on behind a kitchen’s swinging doors amid the crashing of pans and the bubbling of egos.
Restaurants are staffed by prima donnas and ex-cons; some servers are less than useless; some suppliers are crooked; some customers ought to be taken out and beaten senseless, particularly when they don’t tip. Such observations are the common currency of the new breed of cooking book, one that contains not recipes but lurid tales of the chef’s world, hard-boiled and salty à la Anthony Bourdain. Febbroriello, a young Connecticut restaurateur, offers plenty of anecdotes that fall within the new genre’s rules, but mostly this is an affectionate, if sometimes exasperated, account of the trials attendant in running an eatery with her otherworldly but culinarily brilliant husband, a genius at filleting salmon, concocting wondrous dishes out of sea beans or strange greens, and pleasing a dedicated clientele. She shows little patience for the foodies and groupies of the restaurant world, writing keenly of what she calls Chef Envy (“The typical sufferer . . . is a home cook who loves food, hates his job, and wishes he had gone to culinary school instead of listening to his parents”) while exhibiting a few symptoms of that malady herself. And understandably so: while her husband earns glory for his delicious inventions, she’s got to meet payroll, keep her staff happy and insured, hound suppliers, and maintain her sanity—no easy task, particularly since she’s a vegetarian who seems to hate most food. Febbroriello has a light touch, and though her narrative has an unschooled and unpolished feel overall, it should still find a satisfied audience among those whose TiVos are set to the Food Network around the clock.
A light snack for readers brought up on Julia Child and James Beard, but a tasty one for all that.