Everything you always wanted to know about working in a high-powered restaurant kitchen—unfortunately, you may already know most of it.
Now the well-respected executive pastry chef at acclaimed Brooklyn restaurant Dressler, Jurgensen previously cooked at such top-shelf New York eateries as Nobu and La Côte Basque. She has experienced nearly everything in and out of a high-end kitchen: on-the-job romance, getting freaked out by a visit from New York Times review goddess Ruth Reichl and, of course, being privy to some brilliant food. Despite the up-and-down wackiness of the restaurant world, Jurgensen loves her lot in life, and her debut memoir reflects great affection for the professional kitchen. But how much more attention do professional kitchens need? Ever since Anthony Bourdain made a splash with Kitchen Confidential in 2000, food-industry types have been trying to bottle that lightning again, with mixed results. Steve Dublanica’s Waiter Rant (2008) and Phoebe Damrosch’s Service Included (2007) were creative successes, but among them and the dozens of other restaurant confessionals that have emerged in the past decade, there isn’t much further we can go behind the scenes. On the plus side, Jurgensen does a nice job with the female perspective in the testosterone-centric kitchen culture. She gently dishes on former part-time employer Martha Stewart, and her experience as a pastry chef puts a slightly different slant on the proceedings. Ultimately, though, her pleasantly told tale likely won’t resonate beyond Food Network junkies.
Likable, but doesn’t offer enough new insights to stand out in the crowded field of behind-the-scenes foodie memoirs.