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Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews Review

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439153078
  • ASIN: B003STCL4I
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,638,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Friedman has made a career of getting to know the heads and hearts of professional cooks and athletes. For more than ten years, Friedman has collaborated with many of the nation's best and most revered chefs on cookbooks and other writing projects. His writing career began in 1997, when Alfred Portale, asked him to collaborate on the Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook. The book received wide acclaim and since then he has worked as a cookbook collaborator on more than twenty projects, helping a number of the nation's best chefs (Alfred Portale, David Waltuck, Tom Valenti, and many others) share their unique culinary viewpoints with readers. As coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Breaking Back, the memoir of American tennis star James Blake, he took readers inside an athlete's mind during training and competition, and he does the same as a frequent contributor to Tennis Magazine. In KNIVES AT DAWN: The American Team and the Bocuse d'Or 2009, Friedman combines these two personal passions to tell the story of the premier cooking competition in the world. Friedman has contributed articles to O--The Oprah Magazine and other publications and websites. He has been profiled in The New York Daily News and New York Magazine, and interviewed for, or featured in articles in, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as on NPR's Taste of the Nation and WOR Radio's Food Talk. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Columbia University, and is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute's "La Technique" cooking program. He lives in New York City with his family.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Walter Scheib on December 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Friedman has done it again, he brings the reader into the story and gives them an insight and understanding they would never get without his guidance and input. This behind the scenes look at one of the most arcane corners of the culinary world is a revelation to professional chefs, hobbyist cooks and anyone else who has any interest in food,people or the rigors of competition. As always Friedman has written in the voice of his characters, and the reader will get a true feeling and understanding of what is going on inside their head at each point of the story.

I highly recommend this book and any others from this unique observer of the culinary scene.

Walter, Great Falls Va.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ScottRW on December 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A great read for very serious foodies. However, DO NOT view the photos in the center section of the book, where the author reveals the winners of the competition!!!!!!! Tottally spoils the suspense of the team USA's finish!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Hunter on January 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the most gripping non-fiction book I have read since The Hot Zone. Friedman captures the glamor, excitement and terror of competition on an international level. He managed to awaken empathy and envy at the same time. My only regret was that I read the book on my Kindle and there were no inserts. Reading this book was the closest thing to actually eating the amazing and delicious food portrayed in its pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Josephine M. Simmons on January 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Knives at Dawn actually made me want to be there--for the excitement of it as well as for the glory if America should win. The first chapter is pretty boring but needs to be read to understand the high stakes involved. I've begun saving up for next year's trip to France, along with my son who is a food writer in Boston. Catch the thrill!!!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A great read for serious foodies, but reader beware: DO NOT look at the last of the photos presented in the book. The last photo is of the 2009 winners accepting their awards! Ruins what would have otherwise been a suspensful story of the Team Bocuse D'Or USA's eventual finish.
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Format: Paperback
H-O-L-Y C-O-W... I found this book in the bargain (WAY bargain) book section and purchased it. My main reason was because I am familiar with both Chef Thomas Keller (of The French Laundry) and Chef Daniel Boulud (of Daniel NYC) through the show Top Chef. I LOVE Top Chef; Padma and Tom Colicchio are amazing and watching them makes me wish I could eat more food. Their guest judges are usually a lesson for me in fine dining, so finding a book showcasing two of the famous chefs excited me.

This book was ten times better than I ever could have imagined. It traces the story of Team USA (Timothy Hollingsworth and his Commis Adina Guest) and their quest for a medal at the bi-annual Bocuse d'Or Competition. To say it is a book about cooking is like saying James Bond is a book about a spy. I didn't know a cooking competition could be so intense (and this is someone who is always watching Top Chef, Masterchef and Hell's Kitchen).

All credit goes to the author, Andrew Friedman, who garners the trust of all the indivdiuals involved and weaves a tale that incorporates the thoughts and feelings of the chefs, the commis, the coach - and even Hollingsworth's girlfriend. It does not surprise me that Friedman's other passion is tennis, you can certainly see the "sports fever" writing style come through in this book. However, I cannot rave enough about how it enabled someone like myself (a novice foodie, especially with French terms) to truly enjoy and visualize the food that was being created.

I understood what Hollingsworth was attempting to make as he created and re-created his presentation dishes (Bocuse d'Or competitors must present a fish platter and a meat platter using proteins set by the competition).
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