For some reason I got an itch to read a couple of chef’s memoirs that were published recently. “life, on the line, A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat” by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, founders of Alinea restaurant in Chicago caught my eye first. I heard a brief interview with him on NPR. Highly awarded, the chef also faced dealing with tongue cancer at the top of his career. That is enough to draw you in right there. Plus, I had heard of his restaurant and the full, theatrical experience he’s into with food. The other book I picked up was “Blood, Bones & Butter, The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef” by Gabrielle Hamilton, chef/owner of Prune in New York’s East Village. I heard a little interview with her on the American Public Radio’s “Splendid Table” podcast. She sounded like an interesting person. So, I picked up both the books on Amazon for under $30 total.
I gotta tell you, I really liked the Hamilton book much better. Despite the amazing subject matter of the Achatz book, the prose was a little dry. It was a narrative. Not really exciting, though it should be. Achatz wins all kinds of awards for his efforts in the kitchen. I was expecting it to be exciting. I expected to cry when he was diagnosed with cancer, afterall I’d just read about his whole life. The book, unfortunately, is unmoving. It’s a great source of information. I think I learned a lot about the restaurant business in general. And it’s a fast read. So, I’m glad I decided to read it.
“Blood, Bones & Butter” is a super fun book. I laughed, I almost cried. Gabrielle Hamilton has an MFA in fiction writing and it shows. Her words are bold and colorful. It’s a splendid read. She doesn’t plod through the chronological events of her life. She jumps in time and drops you into a perfect explanation of how she got to where she is today. She’s a bit nuts. Delightful to read. I can’t help but think of John Irving novels. That kind of happy sadness. And genuine joy and rage. I really think anyone would enjoy this book, even if you have no interest in the restaurant business or food.
Anyone read either of them? I’d be curious to know what you thought…