Staff Reviews / Book Reviews

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"Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line" by Michael Gibney

'Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line' by Michael Gibney

★★★★★ Foodies and especially those who have worked in the restaurant industry will enjoy Sous Chef. The second person narrative chronicles 24 hours in the life of a sous chef at an upscale restaurant in New York. There are already plenty of memoirs from celebrity chefs, but the sous chef is usually a footnote in these works, or perhaps the subject of an angry rant when the wrong type of meat is ordered. However, as the reader learns, the sous chef is responsible for making sure the kitchen runs smoothly, rendering the sous chef’s place in the kitchen as essential as the produce, meat, and pantry staples needed to create a delicious dish. Duties encompass making sure the inventory is correct, the prep work is complete before service, and of course, being ready to jump on the line and cook when the kitchen is behind. Michael Gibney does not glamorize the restaurant industry, but adds enough gritty details that the reader actually feels like he or she is actually cooking on the line. There is no shortage of drama in the kitchen, and the sous chef must deal with it all, from coworkers who get sick during a busy Friday night service, to dealing with suppliers trying to tack on extra items the kitchen didn’t order. Sous Chef is a fast and entertaining read at 240 pages, and Gibney even provides a glossary for those unfamiliar with kitchen techniques and the esoteric ingredients found in many upscale kitchens.

Reviewed by Kathleen K.

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