While the militaristic minutiae of restaurant life and its psychological pressures might otherwise make for a gripping...

A psychologist and food writer takes a close look at what motivates and defines one of today’s most celebrated chefs.

Haas (Are We There Yet?, 2004) lives close to chef-owner Tony Maws’ famous Boston restaurant, Craigie on Main. Though the author wouldn’t deign to be a “foodie” by today’s terms—most restaurant experiences are, to him, “a colossal waste of time and money”—a dinner at Craigie one night launched him into an intensive, behind-the-scenes field study of life in the Craigie kitchen. Haas is painstakingly meticulous in his report, observing every member of the kitchen in turn, working alongside many of them and even interviewing Maws’ parents for the chef’s complete family history. The author is most focused on the emotional and psychological inner workings of the kitchen dynamics. As he analyzes the inherent tensions in chef–cook relationships, he muses on the cause and effects of Maws’ hot-tempered personality with the distance and interest of a biologist observing a lion taking out a pack of hyenas. Despite his intense closeness to his subject, Haas’ writing never takes on the authority of an insider. The book’s descriptions of what is presumably some of the most inspired food in the country are tough and dry, and most of the text reads like a court reporter’s transcript of conversations between the author and Craigie employees. Now and then, the pages-long dialogue is broken up by Haas’ patronizing diagnoses of various characters’ behavioral habits; the chef, evidently, has “father issues,” but even he finds that hard to take seriously.

While the militaristic minutiae of restaurant life and its psychological pressures might otherwise make for a gripping study, its presentation here is cluttered and clinical.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-425-25610-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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