Customer Reviews: Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants
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on January 3, 2013
Note: This is not a review of the recipes, but more of the type of recipes in the book.

I got this thinking it was going to be like Staff Meals at Chanterelle, a book I love with great variety and accessibility. It isn't.

This is a beautiful book of wonderful looking recipes, but be forewarned, these are STAFF MEALS at some of the country's best resturants. This means:

If it's an asian restaurant, the recipe could call for fish cheeks, fish sauce, sambal, szechuan peppercorns and other asian spices. Why wouldn't they? This is, after all, the "leftovers" at an asian restaurant!

Maybe you're in the mood for a more American styled restaurant. Like chicken? Well, good restaurants make their own stock. Sometimes they have leftovers like chicken feet. How about a pot of deep fried chicken feet for a staff meal? Sounds great! Do you want to buy 2-3 lbs of chicken feet?

So, while I liked the idea, and I thought the pictures were beautiful, and I'm sure the recipes were excellent (I returned this with no problems back to Amazon for another book), I would just like to post a notice that what one restaurant considers "leftover" ingredients, might be for you, the home cook, a real pain to acquire on your own.
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on October 5, 2012
I didn't know much about the staff meal before this book, and I must say- this is such an innovative, creative concept for a cookbook. Each and every recipe looks and sounds simply amazing and the photography is stellar. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading about each restaurant along with the chef interview. The writing was captivating and provided a well-described and thorough "feel" of the individuality of each establishment.
I highly recommend this book. A fascinating read with incredible recipes to boot!
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on December 12, 2014
I'm a former cook who worked for years in Chicago and Seattle- then in Alaska- first several years for Princess Cruiselines- then side-stepped out of fine dining into meat-and-potatoes kitchens cooking at work-camps for the oil, mining and commercial-fishing industries. I miss kitchens dearly.

A lover of cookbooks- this is the first one that lovingly returned me to kitchens in that deepest "family" way. Many cookbooks reignite memories and foster that passion that was once a part of most hours of every day... but THIS book actually TOOK me there- and it not only returned me and reignited stirrings in me- it nurturingly welcomed me- as though I was coming home to a place I really never left.

One aspect of commercial-kitchens I miss most is the super-close camaraderie w/ the staff. And staff meals/staff dining halls, which were probably the most illustrative part of that family-like atmosphere of the environment. Cooking fancy food for customers was such a joy. But cooking for fellow staffers was even more meaningful, truthfully. I predict this is a book I’ll really find comfort in and can hardly wait to sink my teeth into it further!

I must say though that I do have one beef about the book- and it's strictly superficial/structural and not at all related to the project as written by the authors. I bought several copies for myself and others. And every one of them does appear pristine except for one aspect… the physical binding of the book is flawed- so much so that I plan to email the publisher. The bridge of the book appears bound not with one strong continuous wrap-around piece of binding and paper- but w/ pieced-together components… so right along the very edge ridges of the book where the cover bends, the cover paper is coming lose and will soon be peeling, and is soon going to be a real problem if I don’t reinforce it w/ super-strong clear packing-tape. Which is sadly going to give my otherwise brand-new-looking beautiful book an unsightly shoddy old tattered appearance. And honestly- sloppiness aggrivates me lots.

But other than that- man- I’m thrilled! In fact- further regarding the nuts & bolts of the book's deseign, I am in admirable awe at many unique aspects of text, pics, sidenotes and other design pluses. In fact, I've written my own book and I am now inspired to pursue similar creative avenues regarding the piecing together and production of my own volume- should I be lucky enough to see it go to press- either commercially- or via my own self-publishing.

I hope everyone enjoys their copy of the splendid "Come In, We're Closed" as much as I am enjoying my own. :-) smiles- kevin olomon/"chubbyalaskagriz".
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on September 23, 2012
It's worth the price of the book just for the Elvis Presley milkshake. Can't wait to try everything else in this book.
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on January 3, 2014
There are few cooks, if any, which do not tire of the food served in their own places. For one reason or another, it is overload to be around the same food every day. Yeah, yeah, menus change and seasons change and products change. Still, there is a monotony that can set in with eating what you serve day after day, shift after shift. Does that mean that there is no mojo in the food we serve to our guests? Certainly not. But, imagine making and eating an omelet for breakfast everyday for three months. Consider Mumford & Sons listening to music; I would guess they wouldn’t listen to Mumford & Sons. Doesn’t mean that they don’t like music, they just want... something else.

It becomes easier to get better, but the appeal wanes. It just happens. We can work with some fantastic ingredients, but after a while, well, you get the point. And, in general, we are a simple lot. It doesn’t even have to be what we serve our guests that sustains us and keeps us motivated to work through fire and fickle customers. Nary a cook will pass up steaming mussels with a gullet load of melted butter, garlic and crusty bread to sop up the lot. Leave it Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy to wrangle a collection of restaurants’ staff meals into one, poignant and pleasing volume. From a spectrum of today’s notable, notorious and namesake eateries, Come in, We’re Closed (Running Press, 2012) brings the magic of the man behind the curtain to life. The doorway in the rear of the dining room actually houses real people that eat real food. Come in, We’re Closed digs deep into the philosophy of the staff (or ‘family’) meal, the ingredients that never get discarded, the cooks that are put to task to feed other cooks and the inspiration for these familial feasts.

Come in, We’re Closed looks behind the kitchen door of restaurants from all walks, from Morimoto, to WD-50 to City Grocery. Each restaurant the duo explores has a bit of a casual shared; a bit on, say, the chef’s philosophy, the make-up of the brigade and the cultural backgrounds that parlay into the types of food that make it to the communal table or a bit the timeline that runs up to the staff meal. All of the delivery throughout Come in, We’re Closed is comfortable, like a staff meal itself; all approachable and hospitable. Carroll and Eddy cleverly drop in many candid photos, rather than the all too common, overly staged, fussy flood-lit ‘food as art in front of white canvas’ pretentious glop. Again, very approachable and welcoming. Come in, We’re Closed quickly becomes a book difficult to put down. Each section includes a ‘conversation’ with whomever makes the staff meal and/or the owner. Succinct in inquiry, the questions get some great answers!

Asked of Sean Brock of McCrady’s, “What inspires your staff meals?”

“I’m inspired by drive-ins and dive bards, and cool place where a dude can smoke cigarette while he cooks a hamburger for you, ashes falling in there. Gives a whole new meaning to cooking with ashes.”

Of Tony Maws of Craigie on Main, “Has anyone ever gotten rewarded for making a great staff meal?”

“Do a few people move up because of stuff that they do in family meal? Hell yeah. I mean, it’s cooking: show me what you can do.”

Splayed across Come in, We’re Closed, Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc pops up. But, more interestingly, not Thomas Keller. Rather, Carroll and Eddy go to the cooks that make the staff meal. And I find this refreshing. No disrespect to the head that wears the crown, but it is nice to get the guy with the beef blood on his chef coat’s perspective. Sous chef Joe Monnigh of Morimoto’s goes into the nuance of Chicken Pasta Caesar Salad. And that’s cool!

Come in, We’re Closed is for cooks. It truly is. For the inspiration that springs of the conversations alone, it is worth the page turns. Seriously. The food is formidable fodder for both, hungry staff and ravenous reader. At just over 300 pages, the photos are pictures cooks would capture, if given the time.

Wylie Drufesne wraps it up quite nicely, “I don’t think everybody here is the best of friends, but for the most part I think they’re friendly. So if you can’t make good food for your friends, how can you make good food for strangers?”
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on November 16, 2012
All too often the intimacies of kitchens and restaurants are lost on those who have never set foot BEHIND the line of a restaurant, who have never worked a holiday shift or done sidework in the silence of a closing restaurant, or who have never experienced the full thrust of being in the weeds. Christine and Jody's book, in its joyful expression of the private families that restaurants cultivate, allows the average person in, offering a view of restaurants that is seldom acknowledged. The euphemism "family meal," used to describe the meal shared by restaurant employees before service begins, indicates that a restaurant really can be its own standing entity, its own family. What Christine and Jody are able to capture in Come In, We're Closed, is as much an anthropological look at these self-made families as it is a journey through the food lives of kitchens and chefs. Read through this book--and sift through its memorable recipes--for a trip through the lives of families created in kitchens across the world. Cook through this book for a culinary adventure that you can share with your own family, wherever you happen to land.
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on September 24, 2012
I got my copy of Come In, We're Closed this weekend, and I have to say I'm blown away. It's an important work and a beautiful intimate portrait of the hospitality industry. The photography, layout, design elements, writing and recipes are simply superb!
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on June 18, 2015
I picked up this book at my local public library several years ago and was thoroughly enchanted by the stories, the people, and yes, the food. The idea of a staff meal, while not universal in restaurants, is an appealing one: having a communal experience before the customers arrive, getting their "head in the game", and enjoying something that was decidedly NOT on the menu. Are there some oddities? Sure. Things not readily available (even at Wegman's)? Yeah. But whenever I pick up a cookbook I recreate one meal from recipes in that book. In this case it was the recipes from HerbFarm. Best buttermilk fried chicken I'd ever eaten. I even made the effort to make the cherry-tarragon soda--and it was DELICIOUS and refreshing. This book will appeal to not only those who toil in the restaurant and food service industries, but to hard-core foodies who want the whole experience.
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on November 16, 2012
To anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant, this book will conjure nostalgia for the tradition of 'in the trenches' meals shared by the team before the light of a quiet afternoon darkens and the hustle and bustle of the dinner shift kicks in. Come In, We're Closed is chock full of fantastic recipes that evoke the fun and the family of the staff meal. The volume is beautiful- with plenty of tasty photos- and the idea so perfect this is sure to be an excellent gift for any cook in the family this holiday season.
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on November 19, 2012
Some cookbooks are meant for reading and displaying; others are intended for using and bespattering. Come In, We're Closed disregards that familiar dichotomy and triumphs on both fronts. The book is a thoroughly enjoyable, meticulously researched, eminently useful guide to the world's best staff meal traditions.

The photographs, full-color throughout, illustrate each restaurant's story, revealing the staff as it gathers for this intimate ritual rife with camaraderie, experimentation, and whimsy. The lucid prose sets out an intriguing nonfictional account of one the restaurant world's most flattering secrets, along the way counterbalancing the industry's many lurid tales with which we are all now familiar (no disrespect to the now-classic Kitchen Confidential, of course).

At the same time, Come In, We're Closed is an indispensable collection of creative, delicious recipes. My favorites--and there are many--include Homemade Tarragon and Cherry Soda (The Herbfarm; Woodinville, Washington); Redhead Tempura Maki Rolls with Pulled Pork (Au Pied de Cochon; Montreal); Wagyu Beef Bibimbap (Annisa; New York City); Maine Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo (Grace; Portland, Maine); Coffee Profiteroles with Chocolate Glaze (wd~50; New York City); and, of course, the inestimable Elvis Presley Milkshake (McCrady's; Charleston, South Carolina).

Whether adorning a coffee table or put to work on your kitchen counter, Come in, We're Closed is an out-and-out delight.
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