24 Hours on the Line
by Michael Gibney
One of the great perks of my job is the advanced reader copies, which means I got to read this book before its publication date. Another perk of my job is the staff who come to know my reading preferences and set books like this aside for me.
In the age of Top Chef, The Taste, Food Network, and The Cooking Channel, I don't think readers who gravitate towards this kind of book need to be told to "reflect on the craft of cooking [...] from a slightly more mindful perspective." Parts of this book are pretentious. But, that being said, I enjoyed novel.
Written in second person, Sous Chef first comes across as an MFA writing exercise. I was resistant to it at first. And the prep sections of the book are a little too technical for me and are where his (or, your) overblown ego really shows. However, the ego is deflated by some left-out cheese and burnt hazelnuts.
Once service starts, the book really hits its stride. The kitchen is organized chaos, stifling heat, and relentless hard work. It is fast-paced and difficult to put down.
There isn't too much to say about this book; it is what is says: 24 Hours on the Line. If you can get past the narration shtick, Sous Chef is worth the read. It puts you in the midst of a clamoring kitchen with little time to rest. And you can read it the way it should be read, in a single day.