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Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen
Format: HardcoverChange
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I have only read 3 chapters at this point, however thus far this book is a real disappointment. As a chef, I was hoping for some in-depth analysis into my world but between the exhaustive footnotes and the author's constant opinion on every little thing (down to where to get the best macaroons), I still can't get through it. It's insulting when the writer is writing about women in the kitchen but then proceeds to make all the same mistakes and assumptions about women in the kitchen. I don't need to read that sort of book; I live it. What female chefs need is a female chef writing about their experiences, not a food writer that spends pages upon pages on herself. The book feels very self-deserving. The reader doesn't need to read for pages about how you would work in a kitchen but physically can't. We don't care. This is not your story, but at every turn you have found a way to make it about yourself.....down to pages about a previous incident with a pastry chef, where you still try to get your point across about the "disagreement" you had. That whole section felt like a 16 year old girl that wouldn't let go of a fight with her boyfriend. Who cares? I am not reading this book to hear about all your wonderful eating experiences in Paris, or to "oh and ah" at your list of chef connections. I want to feel closer to the women that do what I do everyday. Honestly, I can't believe the editors even let in most of the personal footnotes. They only tire and piss off the reader. I don't even have the energy to go into all the quotes....ridiculous is all I can say.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I agree with the January 3, 2013, review of this book, and then some... I write for a living, and cook, and do a lot of other things...but most of all I write. And when I write, I write to my audience. I want the reader to walk away with something useful to them. Unfortunately, Ms. Druckman missed that mark.

I start with the positive aspects of my experience: I love the title, cover, and concept of this book. Ms. Druckman was on our local NPR station the day I ordered it. In the process of discovering my second profession, which includes the culinary arts, I ordered "Skirt Steak" while she was still on the radio. When I picked up the book a few days later I was settled in with a great glass of white wine, in front of a cozy fire, and a quiet house. Suffice it to say, I was poised to love this book - and I set it down after two chapters and have not picked it up since.

To begin with, the writing is that of an (almost) attorney. Very literal, overly descriptive, and written with an obvious intent to ensure that even a five year old understands her point(s). The demographic of Ms. Druckman's audience is relatively well educated, curious, with a fair amount of life experience under her/his belt...no need to explain the minutiae. I am also not a big fan of people who dwell on the negative. I don't want to be lied to but I most certainly appreciate some sense of humor, compassion, or tenderness (even when the going gets tough).

Again, I love the concept of this book but not the book itself. Maybe Ms. Druckman's next endeavor will hit that sweet spot where humor, intellect, and appreciation of ones audience meet.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I have followed Charlotte Druckman's writing in a variety of places. Besides being incredibly knowledgable about almost every aspect of food, what you sense is that she REALLY enjoys it. It's not JUST an intellectual enterprise--you feel the pleasure she gets from it. But of course the real issue is her subject: looking at the lives of women chefs in a really fascinating way. All I know is that I was more curious about this whole world after finishing it, which is always the sign of a great book.
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on June 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
No story line, just a bunch of chatter. It was a boring book to me. I'm not interested in all the definitions of the word chef.
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on April 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Very well written analysis of what it takes to STAY in the kitchen as a woman. The chapters on motherhood and Anne Rosenzweig are excellent. It takes an incredible amount of support and stamina to stay in the kitchen, and this book reflects the experience of the 'first wave' of successful female chefs.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a foodie and devotee of the Food Network and The Cooking Channel, I was excited about delving into the career histories of well-known female chefs. I'm sory to say that from the very outset, it was clear that Charlotte Druckman was going to provide ehr readers with very little substance.

It takes a whole chapter for her - with quotes from some of the chefs she interviewed - to try to come up with a definition of the word "chef". I'm not sure one was ever forthcoming, because by about mid-chapter, I was already skipping ahead to see where the in-depth interviews were. Unfortunately, there weren't any: just snippets, interspersed with long passages detailing the writer's own experiences and impressions, her fan-girl relationship with some of the chefs, and so on and on. The style is gee-whiz with a generous sprinkling of girly parentheses and italics.

It's almost as rare for me not to finish a book as it is not to finish a meal, but a few bites of this one were more than enough. I hop someone will take this subject and start over, devoting each chapter to one of the interesting female chefs this country has produced, and letting her speak for herself - without the parentheses.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This sounded like an interesing topic but it was totally boring, could not get through the whole book, poorly written, nothing interesting, or informative.
M. Johnson
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The author's "voice" is to talk about the challenges of writing a book on women chef's over and over. I would have preferred a more confident point of view.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've been a female chef for over 10 years now, and there is just SO much to say about it. It's about more than sexism or gender roles, it's more than finding a balance of career and motherhood, about wondering if you do your fellow women a disservice for staying home when 9 months pregnant, when the boys in the kitchen decide you can't hack it because you need to pick up your projectile vomiting son from school, when every kid you've trained for the past 6 years thinks they're going to work garde manger for 4 months and then end up with a Food Network deal.

This book needed to be written, and I'm glad I found it. I feel less lonely tonight knowing that there are so many like me- savory, pastry, bakers, managers, soms, writers- ALL of us. This is hard. This is not as exciting as TV makes you all think it is. And this book stays in my nighttable, there when I have a hard day at work, there to read a few paragraphs or some quotes and remember "yeah- there's a reason we all do this. and it's ok that I don't have it together, because we're all still figuring this out".
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I read an engaging excerpt of this book and bought it based on the strength of that excerpt. When I started reading it, though, it opened (after a lengthy intro) with a series of quotes. The author then promised that the book wouldn't be all quotes - and then for the next 20 pages that I read, she proceeded to supply me with more quotes than actual writing. From what I understand of profile writing, it's atypical to be reading long swathes of quotations; rather, the quotations punctuate a larger story about the subject, that is woven by the writer. I understand that the author had many great quotes from her 70+ subjects, but I wish she had worked harder to create her own narrative from her interviews. I returned this book.
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