“A fifteen-minute delay in serving fish is the difference between fantastic and lackluster,” write the authors. This book...

HOTBOX

INSIDE CATERING, THE FOOD WORLD'S RISKIEST BUSINESS

Two cookbook authors who once thought of catering as “the elevator music of the culinary arts” reveal the secrets of the craft.

If one prepares thousands of meals at once, “how could the quality of the food not suffer?” So went the thinking of the Lee brothers (The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, 2013, etc.), Charleston, South Carolina, natives famous for cookbooks celebrating Southern cuisine, who spent four years interviewing industry professionals and working as kitchen assistants for a large New York catering firm. The key to serving all those dishes is the hotbox, also known as a proofer, “an upright aluminum cabinet on wheels, lifeblood for caterers,” which “conveys partially cooked food from the refrigerator at the caterer’s prep kitchen to the site of the party” with the help of Sterno food warmers. The book chronicles the authors’ experiences as they graduated from prep chefs to working the actual events, known in the trade as fiestas. Descriptions of party preparations get repetitive after a while, but the authors do a solid job documenting the history of the industry and detailing the pressures caterers contend with, from client requests—producer Norman Lear once demanded to have a carpet installed in a room where a fundraiser was to be held because he didn’t like the acoustics—to the precision required to put just the right amount of celery-root slaw atop beef brioche appetizers. The authors also share plenty of entertaining anecdotes—e.g., about the caterer who “had to mix pasta salad in the bathtub of a walk-up apartment” to make sure he had enough for 6,000 Gracie Mansion guests during the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York.

“A fifteen-minute delay in serving fish is the difference between fantastic and lackluster,” write the authors. This book will give readers a newfound appreciation of caterers’ artistry and their constant perch on the precipice of failure.

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-261-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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