Back of the House: The Secret Life of a Restaurant

Scott Haas. Berkley, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-425-25610-7
Adding another addition to the long line of books about restaurants, chefs, and chefs in their restaurants, Haas focuses on Tony Maws, the chef of Craigie on Main, a buzzy place in Cambridge, Mass., that specializes in "obviously offbeat" American cuisine "like pig's head and other odd ingredients." While Haas's book could educate (or warn) some readers about what happens in the kitchen—apparently, a lot of yelling—other books make the same point more vividly, such as Anthony Bourdain's now-classic Kitchen Confidential. Haas, a clinical psychologist, insists both on analyzing the chef and inserting himself unnecessarily into the book. The analysis drags the books down, but a sudden digression towards the end is worse: Haas visits New York and interviews several of his famous chef friends, including Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller. Both of these chefs are far more intriguing than Maws, and readers may find themselves disappointed to have to return to Boston and more psychoanalysis, rather than learn more from those culinary notables. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
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