Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line

Michael Gibney. Ballantine, $25 (212p) ISBN 978-0-8041-7787-0
Forgoing the usual route of outrageous stories, name dropping, or straight ahead cookbooks, Gibney writes about what it’s actually like to work in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant. Told in the second-person, from the point of a sous chef—a kitchen’s second-in-command and a position Gibney first reached at the age of 22—the narrative wonderfully captures a single day’s events, from morning deliveries and prep work through a busy service to the team’s cathartic release at a local bar. An experienced chef with an M.F.A. in nonfiction, Gibney is as skilled with words as he is with his 11-inch Sujihiki knife. In fact, when writing about this trusty knife his prose sounds more like poetry: “her outward lip traces lines in flesh with surgical exactitude, the convex shape of her inward face attenuates surface tension, releasing the meat. Cuts go slack at her touch; fish bows beside her.” This love of language permeates the whole book so that Gibney is able to tie together the off-color Spanglish dialogues of the staff with his drunken philosophizing on whether or not cooking is “just another form enlightened self interest” to create a story that is both cohesive and multifaceted. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 03/25/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-8041-9209-5
Hardcover - 305 pages - 978-1-4104-7150-5
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8041-7789-4
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-8041-7788-7
Prebound-Glued - 240 pages - 978-1-68065-037-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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