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Back of the House: The Secret Life of a Restaurant Paperback – February 5, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; 1.6.2013 edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425256103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425256107
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Forgive the unappetizing metaphor, but Scott Haas is a fly on the wall at Cragie on Main. He sees all, hears all, tells all. Did the wonderful chef Tony Maws know he revealed so much?” –Alan Richman, GQ Food and Wine Critic

“Haas is that rare breed of writer: part investigative reporter, part father confessor, wrapped up in the poetry of culinary genius and served with a twist of humour.” –Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire and Georgiana

“Scott Haas provides an insider’s perspective that truly takes you into the belly of the restaurant industry beast.” –Drew Nieporent, Restaurateur (Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Corton)

"Reading Back of the House is like reading my own autobiography about my life in the kitchen. Scott brings out an uncensored, unbiased reality to the restaurant industry. Every young cook should sink their teeth into it." –Marc Vetri, chef and restaurant owner

“[Haas’] insights about restaurant kitchens are always informative as well as entertaining. His views on chefs surprise and delight.”—Thomas Keller, chef and restaurateur

“I look to Scott for digging deep to uncover what really motivates and inspires us. He is one of those rare food writers who brings an intelligence and understanding from beyond the kitchen to his culinary reporting.”—Daniel Boulud, chef-owner of award-winning restaurants

About the Author

A clinical psychologist and food writer, Scott Haas has contributed to publications such as Gourmet, Saveur, Robb Report, Worth, Wine Enthusiast, and Gastronomica. He is the author of Hearing Voices and Are We There Yet? and the co-author of The Da Silvano Cookbook, and was the recipient of the James Beard Award for radio work in 2005. He is also the chief psychologist at a private psychiatric hospital in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

Personally knowing the people in this book made it so much more meaningful to read.
marylee
This is the best behind-the-scenes book about restaurants that I've read since Kitchen Confidentials.
Wicked Goodies
Scott Haas' writing is clear and concise, at times very funny as well as deeply revelatory.
Bella

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wicked Goodies on June 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have many years of experience working in restaurants as FOH staff or management and many years working as a pastry chef in commercial kitchens. This is the first book to ever help me answer that nagging question of why chefs can be so temperamental...myself included. It's not easy being responsible for a commodity like food, for which there is always a demand. Scott Haas captures the stress and the beauty of life in the food industry: the hard core nature of the work, the transient camaraderie, the art of food preparation, and the marathon pace of it all.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Frank LaManna on April 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Back of the House” is a rollicking story about what goes on in the kitchen of Tony Maw’s restaurant, Craigie on Main, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is an enjoyable and somewhat quick read, as well it should be. The characters in the book include the larger-than-life Tony Maws, cooks who seem to come from questionable parts of society as well as those that are as recognizable as one’s neighbors, and characters, like Tony’s father, who seem more like caricatures than real people. There are tattoos aplenty, a wealth of salty language, and good descriptions about behind the scene activities that take place in a cutting edge restaurant.

Scott Haas is a pretty good reporter. His ability to believably reproduce scenes that he has witnessed helps propel the story, and he is also capable of keeping each character distinct and individual. This is no easy task.

There are some downsides to the work. One is the fact that the stress of the book is that Scott is a clinical psychologist. We are never told how good a psychologist that he is, and those with high expectations of finding deep insights will probably feel a bit of disappointment with the insights presented. Sometimes there are Godlike pronouncements such as that on page 13 where Scott determines, seemingly on sight, the motivation of one of the cooks. Another good example involves Santos and the goat which Tony has brought in. Scott looks at Santos’s face. “It’s just a goat, ‘Said Santos,’ but I [says Scott] could see from his expression growing a little bit sadder, that he[Santos] was beginning to see it as the living creature that it had been.” Really? There is no follow-up to show that anything that Santos did was consistent with this interpretation; in fact, many incidents in the book suggest otherwise.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By marylee on May 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Personally knowing the people in this book made it so much more meaningful to read. I workrd a Cragie for a short time: It's not for everyone. I absolutly have the utmost respect for Chef Maws and what he is doing there. I just wish I found him 10 years ago. But Jill makde siuch an impression on me. Jill is like a bull in china shop; charging through her day. But she not out of control in anyway, just moves with a steadfast fluidity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Owen on May 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Haas' representation of the restuarant business is accurate and sometimes quite raw. All restaurants run along a similar parallel, with Craigie being in the most high echelon. As a Chef I enjoyed this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph on April 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book and could not put it down. This is a terrific look at the behind the scenes of an amazing restaurant. At times you feel like a fly on the wall peeping in on something you shouldn't be seeing. At other times the author is participating in the action and a contributor to the cuisine. In addition, I've always heard that the restaurant business is tough, but I had no idea what it takes to get everything out consistently, at the right time, and with the right presentation; I have a new respect for the front of the house and the back of the house. Furthermore, the book offers some do's and don'ts of people management - an added bonus!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MmeEmile on August 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not a "foodie" but I really enjoy cooking shows and marvel at the skill and creativity of the top chefs. I can't imagine what it takes to run a successful restaurant even after reading this book which is basically a profile of Chef Tony Maws and Craigie on Main. Even to the uninitiated, Chef Maws has anger issues but not so much anger "control " issues ... he seems to be able to turn it on and off at will. I suspect he screams at his staff because he can get away with it. In sports it's "Yes, Coach" and "No, Coach" and in the restaurant world it's "Yes, Chef and No, Chef." Think Bobby Knight with a white chef's jacket minus physical abuse.
I really enjoyed Scott Haas's behind the scenes account of the roles of the kitchen staff, couldn't believe how little they are paid for such grueling work, and think that the new generation of cooks should understand that bullying is wrong wherever it occurs: in schools, offices, and restaurant kitchens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C W on July 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved the book ! The author gives you
a great experience behind the scenes.
You get the physical and psychological
aspects of the staff from Mr. Haas' point
of view. Well done!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MaryAnnShurlow on May 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book.......started to drag just a little as the author talked to all the personnel that worked in the restaurant. I did finish the book, however, and did like it overall.
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