Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Nonfiction Files

The Nonfiction Files is a weekly journal of my adventures reading my toppling piles of nonfiction books. I won't be posting reviews, but rather my thoughts about what I'm reading, while I'm reading it.

I'm joined in The Nonfiction Files by Jehara. If you would like to play along with us, let me know!

My current read is Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes On in the Kitchen by Dalia Jurgensen

Synopsis from publisher:

Spiced is Dalia Jurgensen's memoir of leaving her office job and pursuing her dream of becoming a chef. Eventually landing the job of pastry chef for a three-star New York restaurant, she recounts with endearing candor the dry cakes and burned pots of her early internships, and the sweat, sheer determination, and finely tuned taste buds-as well as resilient ego and sense of humor-that won her spots in world-class restaurant kitchens. With wit and an appreciation for raunchy insults, she reveals the secrets to holding your own in male-dominated kitchens, surviving after-hours staff parties, and turning out perfect plates when you know you're cooking for a poorly disguised restaurant critic. She even confesses to a clandestine romance with her chef and boss-not to mention what it's like to work in Martha Stewart's TV kitchen-and the ugly truth behind the much-mythologized family meal.

My thoughts:

I needed something light after finishing up a couple of very heavy reads, and Spiced has perfectly fit that bill. It's just been an easy read, fun and entertaining, which is just what I was hoping for.

Dalia Jurgensen always wanted to cook, and so she enrolled in cooking school, quit her job, and weaseled her want into a entry-level position at the famous Nobu in New York. Her new boss didn't care that she had no experience - that just meant she didn't have any bad habits he would need to break. She was initially miserably bad at her job, and then better, and then quite good. She got a better job at a newer restaurant, and eventually worked her way up to grill chef. Then, inexplicably, she decided she needed to take a break, which is where I left the story this week.

Jurgensen tells her story in a friendly, conversational style, which has been a pleasure to read. She doesn't gloss over her failings, even recounting the time when she burned an actual hole in a metal pan. She seems to be remarkably quick at picking up the nuances of her job, and her reactions to stressful situations are impressively cool and collected. She seems to be the type of person who would be fun to hang out with, so it's easy to root for her as she pursues her dreams.

I don't know that this will have any deep life lessons to impart, but it's a lot of fun, which is perfect for this busy time of year.

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