By Gabrielle Hamilton
Really liked this.
Marvelous writing that shows great insight into someone who truly loves food but also touches upon:
- Being a chef / owner of a restaurant
- Being a successful chef who just happens to be female
- Having started loving cooking and food, before all the money and marketing came into the picture
- Having a problematic relationship with your mother, who instilled your love of food
- Having a problematic relationship with an Italian husband, yet being completely in love with her mother-in-law's spirit and cooking prowess
Hamilton believes in the necessity of getting her hands dirty. For example, the restaurant space that she eventually set up her own restaurant in had been abandoned years ago by a restaurant that had gone bankrupt. When she first opened the doors, she described having to dispose of all the remaining ingredients that had been abandoned, having to clean up the rat shit that had accumulated and patch all of the holes that the rats came through and having to clean up human feces on the stoop of the restaurant. As such, the memoir not only gives a realistic look at working in the industry (unlike say the food shows that edit only the flashy parts), but also this philosophy spills over to providing (one would think) a fairly realistic self-portrait of herself, splaying details of her personality that are both positive and negative.
As a final note on the ending, I suspect those expecting a redemption or a feel-good story will be disappointed. However, for those who recognize that Hamilton is trying to get as close to the truth as she can, it's in line with her philosophy and the rest of the memoir. I will say, that I would like to try out restaurant next time I am in New York.