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.