Gabrielle Hamilton owns Prune Restaurant, in New York. You might have even eaten there. A tiny, awkward place in the East Village. Very much a stop on the food-lover’s circuit. Well, now she’s written a passionate, pull-out-the-stops, utterly intense memoir of her life as a chef, and I cannot put it down. In fact, I can hardly finish the post for wanting to stop and just finish reading. Before I forget, Hamilton is giving a cooking class at Central Market in Austin at 1 on this Sunday. There were four seats left about 15 minutes ago, so you might want to register fast. And in Dallas on Saturday. Forget that one; there’s a waiting list. But even if you can’t get to one of the classes on her book tour, you can still buy the book, Blood, Bones & Butter, and you definitely should. I can’t quote a long passage (publishers frown on that), but here’s an excerpt: This is about the “stampede that is Sunday brunch.” “We do a little over two hundred covers on a Sunday in five hours with only thirty seats, if that tells you anything. . . . The kitchen for its part is hunkered down, the two full rails packed with tickets that all look exactly the same because it’s all pancakes, eggs, and bacon . . . . We do not wait patiently while the customer enjoys a section of the New York Times over a nice bowl of homemade granola before firing up his sour cream and caraway omelette. We do not. We are sometimes laying down omelette pans on the flames by the half-dozen, and delivering that many omelettes in as many minutes . . . [on a weekend that adds up to] 1,440 eggs. This is nothing compared to a hotel or even a big restaurant; the only thing that makes it monstrous is that we are doing it in a kitchen the size of a Lincoln Continental.” There’s so much more–her relationship with her semi-nutty, glamorous French mother, and her husband, and her new baby. . . all honest and bare and in your face. You’ll understand more about what it means to be a chef and own a restaurant after reading this book than any other book I can think of, and there are a lot of cheffy books out there. It’s the distaff side of Tony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Random House. $26 list price.
Eat My Words