The back must slave to feed the belly. . . . In this urgent and unique book, chef Michael Gibney uses twenty-four hours to animate the intricate camaraderie and culinary choreography in an upscale New York restaurant kitchen. Here readers will find all the details, in rapid-fire succession, of what it takes to deliver an exceptional plate of food—the journey to excellence by way of exhaustion.
Told in second-person narrative, Sous Chef is an immersive, adrenaline-fueled run that offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective on the food service industry, allowing readers to briefly inhabit the hidden world behind the kitchen doors, in real time. This exhilarating account provides regular diners and food enthusiasts alike a detailed insider’s perspective, while offering fledgling professional cooks an honest picture of what the future holds, ultimately giving voice to the hard work and dedication around which chefs have built their careers.
In a kitchen where the highest standards are upheld and one misstep can result in disaster, Sous Chef conjures a greater appreciation for the thought, care, and focus that go into creating memorable and delicious fare. With grit, wit, and remarkable prose, Michael Gibney renders a beautiful and raw account of this demanding and sometimes overlooked profession, offering a nuanced perspective on the craft and art of food and service.
Praise for Sous Chef
“A wild ride, not unlike a roller coaster, and the reader experiences all the drama, tension, exhilaration, exhaustion and relief that accompany cooking in an upscale Manhattan restaurant.”—USA Today
“Fascinating and fun . . . Gibney is both a gifted observer and supremely knowledgeable about his craft and the inner workings of a professional kitchen.”—The Boston Globe
“Gibney has a fine ear for language and delivers an extraordinary amount of information about ingredients and techniques.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Sous Chef reveals the high-adrenaline dance behind your dinner.”—NPR
“Experience one exhilarating day in the shoes of a New York chef in this enthralling book.”—Parade
“A vibrantly written guide to terminology and process, with plenty of real-time detail and a dash of kitchen gossip.”—Entertainment Weekly
“[A] sizzling and informative debut . . . The choice of perspective pushes us through the text at breakneck speed, a subtle yet skillfully employed narrative move that also sets the stakes high for the reader. . . . Portion it out over numerous sittings for no other reason than prolonging its enjoyment.”—The Daily Beast
“A terrific nuts-and-bolts account of the real business of cooking as told from the trenches. No nonsense. This is what it takes.”—Anthony Bourdain
“Michael Gibney’s you-are-there Sous Chef is one of the most informative, funny, and transparent books about the restaurant biz ever written.”—Bret Easton Ellis
“This is excellent writing—excellent!—and it is thrilling to see a debut author who has language and story and craft so well in hand. Though I would never ask my staff to read my own book, I would happily require them to read Michael Gibney’s.”—Gabrielle Hamilton, author of Blood, Bones & Butter
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2014: Reading Michael Gibney's Sous Chef--a debut that plays at the outer bounds of memoir--may be the closest most of us will ever come to living a day as the second-in-command at a Michelin-starred New York City restaurant. Written in the second person, it's intense and immediately devourable. Sous Chef has all the drama, disaster, and triumph people have come to expect from reality restaurant TV, but far more intimate and nuanced. On every page, Gibney turns out phrases to savor: this is kitchen writing on par with Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones & Butter. No one who’s read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential will be surprised by the more licentious elements, but the real thrills are those transcendent moments when every player is absorbed by their role, moving together to assemble a fantastic meal. In Gibney’s hands, the anonymous act of preparing and serving great food to ravenous multitudes feels authentically noble, verging on heroic. --Mari Malcolm