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An inspiring, graphic, and funny memoir from an entrepreneur unafraid to tell it like it is.

One of Canada’s most famous and successful restaurateurs chronicles the ups and downs of being a successful woman in a famously sexist industry.

Restaurant memoirs are notoriously salacious, from the escapades of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential to the rash of waiter memoirs of recent years. Here, one of Canada’s most well-known restaurateurs offers something different: a confessional, observational autobiography that is as unapologetic as it is instructive. Agg may not be a household name in the United States, but her charcuterie-based restaurant empire—including The Black Hoof in Toronto and Agrikol in Montreal—is legendary north of the border. The narrative opens on a busy night as the author observes the rhythms and swells of her restaurant. She also drops observations that seem casual but can be mapped back to give clues to her success. “Having the front and back function as a team rather than opponents begrudging each other at every opportunity isn’t just important, it’s essential,” she writes, “but it’s a new model, completely opposed to how it’s always been done.” Agg also offers a raw chronicle of her trials and tribulations, from burning out a starter marriage and suffering bankruptcy after her first venture to meeting her husband Roland Jean and launching The Black Hoof. To the delight of Toronto’s gossip circles, she also pulls back the curtain on her split with former partner and now celebrity chef Grant van Gameren. The book showcases a wealth of dichotomies, as the author is able to spin carnal anecdotes about sex and food but follow them up with an artful declaration of independence for every woman who suffers from sexism in the kitchen. Whimsical illustrations by friends and family of everything from a charcuterie board to a nude portrait of the author add to the book’s unique charms.

An inspiring, graphic, and funny memoir from an entrepreneur unafraid to tell it like it is.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-14-313264-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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