Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sous Chef - Michael Gibney

Sous Chef
Title: Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line
Author: Michael Gibney
Publication Date: 3/25/14
Pages: 240
Genre: Food / Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: You know me and food memoirs...
Date Completed: 9/27/15

Summary: Gibney captures a unique look at life in a prestigious restaurant kitchen. With his use of second person narrative, he describes one day as a sous chef, with all its highs and lows.

What I Thought: You all know how I love books in this genre. Give me a memoir about food and I will devour it (no pun intended). Lately, though, I have begun to feel like the genre is either becoming over saturated or I have lost that same early fervor I felt for it. Several of the books I have read have felt far more solidly in the memoir genre, rather than having anything to do with food. That's not always a bad thing, but it leaves my craving for knowledge and experience of the food industry unsatisfied. Wow...I'm using so many food metaphors completely unwittingly here...

Sous Chef was such a breath of fresh air in that regard. Gibney's work felt unlike any other food memoir I have ever read. First off, he uses second-person narrative, which is rare enough in and of itself. I was predictably skeptical of this literary decision at the start, but he won me over quickly. His use of "you" really did make me feel a part of the action and I loved that, particularly since this book is all about the action.

Gibney does not spend time telling you about his childhood or what inspired him to become a chef or the progression of jobs through which he worked his way up to his current position. He truly sticks to a 24 hour period, starting with his arrival at work on a Friday morning, all the way through prep and service, drinks with the crew, a few hours of sleep, and the beginnings of brunch service for Saturday morning. 

For a home cook, this glimpse into a professional kitchen is enlightening and daunting. It's a reminder that a career in cooking is not something for which I am cut out. I like cooking as a release, a relaxation... I know I would not enjoy the long hours and high-stress environment of a professional kitchen. But, that knowledge does not make it any less fascinating to me. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Potentially

A Reduced Review: The unique voice of this memoir gives a fascinating glimpse into the world of professional kitchens.

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