Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2009
: Just when you thought you've read enough culinary memoirs and single-subject studies on every esoteric food topic imaginable comes Knives at Dawn
, Andrew Friedman's sharp, insider account of America's quest to win the Bocuse d'Or--the epicurean equivalent of the World Cup, held biannually in Lyon, France. For over two decades, international teams have entered the arena, cooking for five-and-a-half hours from a glass-walled pod in full view of the intimidating judges and howling spectators (who add to the frenzy with chants and clanging cowbells). In 2009, Paul Bocuse himself enlisted legendary chefs Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller (well-known for his obsession with perfection) to field the U.S. team. French Laundry chef Timothy Hollingsworth and his commis
, Adina Guest, continued to work their grueling day jobs over three-and-a-half months of intense training, and set the bar for future U.S. brigades. If you don't already know the outcome, restrain yourself from Googling the results, and let Friedman sweep you up with his culinary page-turner. --Brad Thomas Parsons
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Every two years, chefs from around the world gather to compete in the Bocuse d'Or, a grueling cooking competition that gives participants just five and a half hours to prepare a full menu of elaborate fish and meat dishes (with their own choice of supporting ingredients). As the 2009 contest drew near, restaurateurs Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller were determined the U.S. would send a team that could finally bring back a medal; Friedman (Breaking Back
) follows the quest through the selection of two cooks from Keller's French Laundry and stays with them until the final showdown. It's great fly-on-the-wall reporting that captures both the obsessive, perfectionist mindset of great chefs and their creative spontaneity under pressure—as small a matter as the sudden, intuitive selection of celeriac as an ingredient in a tart becomes a moment of high drama. The pace is relentless, but Friedman's observations of Timothy Hollingworth and his assistant, Adina Guest, as they struggle to rise to the challenge will have foodies riveted all the way through. Even those who don't care about the intricate details of a nine-course meal could learn something about entrepreneurship and project management from this story. (Dec. 1)
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