THE RAGING SKILLET

THE TRUE LIFE STORY OF CHEF ROSSI

A humorous and witty chronicle of a woman’s pulling-herself-up-by-her-bootstraps rise through the culinary ranks.

How one woman learned to cook and made a name for herself in the catering industry.

Growing up as an overweight Orthodox Jew, Rossi’s first introduction to cooking came about as a means to survive after her mother started microwaving all of the family food instead of creating goulashes and stews that simmered on the stove all day. “Suddenly,” she writes, “that elusive sensation of being the only one who could provide what everyone wanted was in my grasp, wedged between the kitchen mitts and the platter of cheese ravioli.” From the pizza bagels that launched her career in the kitchen, Rossi wends her way through the ups and downs and side streets of her rise to cooking fame. With a good shot of humor, a splash of self-deprecation, and a smidgen or two of sadness and regret, she chronicles her introductions to bartending and cooking, her coming out as a lesbian and non–Orthodox Jew to her family, and her rocky relationship with her mother, who, like many good Jewish mothers, used guilt as her favorite spice. Rossi intertwines character descriptions of the chefs, cooks, and waiters she’s worked with and for over the years as she moves through the decades and the numerous positions she held before she launched her own catering service. There’s Big S, who was “stirring tomato sauce, wearing nothing but a black lace bra, matching panties, and an apron,” and the French chef who abhorred having women in the kitchen, let alone a gay Jewish woman. Each of the author’s stories is well-rounded, redolent of salty sweat, sweet love, and the joy of food. The inclusion of numerous recipes related to each narrative is an added garnish to an already satisfying meal.

A humorous and witty chronicle of a woman’s pulling-herself-up-by-her-bootstraps rise through the culinary ranks.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55861-902-9

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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