Schenker’s candid memoir chronicles the painful journey of a man striving for both culinary perfection and inner peace.

ALL OR NOTHING

ONE CHEF'S APPETITE FOR THE EXTREME

An award-winning chef reveals his addictions.

Schenker, owner of Recette, in New York’s West Village, and the newly opened The Gander, loved to cook even as a child. Hyperactive and rebellious, working in his family’s kitchen alongside his beloved grandmother offered him “an outlet for all of the emotions that were too uncomfortable for me to really feel.” But cooking did not save him from drugs: marijuana first and then opiates, heroin and crack. “If you use crack,” he writes, “it will eventually own you. I found it so addictive that I dreamed about getting high while I slept.” Schenker became expert at lying, stealing and manipulating his distraught parents. When a psychologist warned his parents that his marijuana use was “a harbinger of bad things to come,” his protests and tears convinced them that it was just a phase. “No one was better at faking remorse than me,” he writes. “I learned that I could get away with anything.” As he plummeted into addiction—once even stealing his mother’s Rolex for drug money—he held down a succession of jobs as a cook. After he hit bottom and his parents finally cut him off, he landed in jail, soon getting himself assigned to the kitchen. Jail, halfway houses and Alcoholics Anonymous inspired his mantra: “Your serenity is in direct proportion to your acceptance.” For several years, he worked in local restaurants and then was hired by Gordon Ramsay, whose kitchen was run “like a military operation.” Schenker longed to go out on his own, and Recette Private Dining was his first venture, serving a 10-course tasting menu for a small group of diners. A real restaurant soon followed. His manic striving for success, however, led to his substituting one addiction for another, as he became an obsessive workaholic, suffering extreme anxiety and panic attacks.

Schenker’s candid memoir chronicles the painful journey of a man striving for both culinary perfection and inner peace.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0062339300

Page Count: 272

Publisher: It Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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

NIGHT

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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