Wednesday, December 30, 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. You can read my first post about the book here.

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 so far:

In this second part of the book, Jurgensen's story starts to take a turn toward reality. So far, her journey as a chef has been, quite honestly, pretty smooth. She's had to work hard, but all her bosses have been supportive, her skills have stood the test, and she's worked for very successful restaurants.

However, now she accepts a job in a kitchen that is a confirmed "boy's club", and finds herself ignored at best, and harassed on a regular basis. After leaving that job, she finds herself working in a better climate, but in a restaurant that is not considered memorable by the critics, and ultimately won't ever be a success.

I found this part of the narrative more interesting, because it shows the side of restaurant work that isn't all smiles and great reviews. Things get tough, and Jurgensen has to just push through. She also talks about her relationships - or lack thereof - and I'm reminded again what an all-encompassing job being a chef really is.

This is still a quick, fun read, and it's working well for me at this time of year. I expect I will be done with it in no time!

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