A CHEF'S TALE

A MEMOIR OF FOOD, FRANCE AND AMERICA

Franey, recently retired from his New York Times and syndicated food column, looks back with clarity, precision, and considerable charm on his Burgundy childhood in a food-centered family; his rigorous training in Paris eateries (after leaving home and school forever at 14); and his American career as a French chef making his name in restaurant kitchens, newspaper columns, cookbooks, and television series. ``Anyone who has ever tried to cook well knows that about 50 percent of the job is focus, the willingness to concentrate,'' Franey notes. His own ability to focus on the details of food preparation combines with the specificity of his recollections to make his memoir solidly evocative. Still fresh in his mind's eye, it seems, are the fish he caught and cooked for family lunches when he was eight and even the ingenious devices he and his friends used to catch their prey. He recalls the elaborate dishes (including a boned, stuffed turbot soufflÇ) that, as a teenage apprentice, he ``felt I had to master if I was ever going to be anybody.'' And he still remembers his ``effervescent elation'' on entering New York harbor as a fairly lowly member of the hierarchy tapped to staff the French pavilion's kitchen at the 1939 World's Fair. Franey's independent nature informs his story's more dramatic moments: his surprisingly successful defiance of orders in the US Army during World War II; his resignation, after 20 years at New York's regal Pavillon restaurant, following a dispute with owner/manager Henri SoulÇ; his painful split with New York Times food man Craig Claiborne after years as an uncredited partner in Claiborne's restaurant reviews and recipe columns. (``I think about him all the time, even now.'') Franey has little to say about his marriage or his personal life in America, if he has had one apart from food and cooking. But his memoir of kitchens past is enlivened with anecdotes and personality sketches and peppered with authoritative parenthetical tips on culinary procedure. Unlike his more recent, eclectic ``60- Minute Gourmet'' entries, the 100 appended recipes, many tied to events reported in the book, are mostly French, though trimmed for current lower-fat standards. And he explains how the others are grounded in the cuisine he knows and does best. (Book-of-the-Month- Club Alternate Selection)

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-394-58600-X

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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