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Turning the Tables : Restaurants from the Inside Out Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 1, 2005


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, August 1, 2005
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HsrperColins Publishers,2005 (August 1, 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 0060737808
  • ASIN: B000EMSZ88
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 4.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,931,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shaw, known in Internet food circles as the Fat Guy, and founder of the culinary Web site eGullet.org, offers a sort of Kitchen Confidential from the perspective of an average Joe (albeit a pretty swift one). He goes inside the kitchens of venerable New York establishments like Gramercy Tavern and Lespinasse, visits a Connecticut hot dog shack and a North Carolina BBQ joint. But while Anthony Bourdain is interested in telling readers why they should avoid eggs Benedict at all costs, Shaw takes more of a glass-half-full approach. He hangs out with a "reservationist" at the posh New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park, so he can learn how to snag a reservation at the last minute ("polite but confident persistence" is key). He advises readers to take the information in guides like Zagat's and restaurant reviews with a grain of salt: remember, they're just opinions. He also urges readers to pay attention to where food comes from and to try new things. A mixed bag of advice, insider information and soapboxing (on everything from organic food and "authentic cuisine" to restaurant critics), this opinionated diner's tour is sure to appeal to chowhounds in general and New Yorkers in particular.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Pure crack for foodies.” (Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential)

“...sound, neighborly advice on getting reservations...briskly tough.” (The New Yorker)

“[The] Fat Guy makes his case....Turning the Tables is a well-rounded work by a well-rounded guy.” (Boston Globe)

“...interesting and useful...Shaw shows how it all comes together at several restaurants.” (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World)

“Shaw dissects everything from reservation systems...to restaurant reviews and the intricate path your food takes to the table.” (Fortune)

“Steven Shaw tells you how to get exceptional service every time.” (Newsweek)

“...this opinionated diner’s tour is sure to appeal to chowhounds in general and New Yorkers in particular.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Penetrating...decodes the secrets of the food world....A delicious read for restaurant goers.” (Library Journal) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It's a good guide to eating out.
John Matlock
It seemed almost jouvenile to me- He definitely takes the side of the industry and looks at customers with a good amount of disdain.
Jim Asker
Wonderfully written, witty and packed with practical information, this little book gave me a big dose of reading pleasure.
Casey Ellis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jim Asker on October 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There were aspects of the book that I enjoyed- the writer has a great knowledge of the food and restaurant industry. Some of his tales were interesting-

The reading was really bogged down for me by the writer's almost "groupie" sense of being impressed that he can hang with great chefs. It seemed almost jouvenile to me-

He definitely takes the side of the industry and looks at customers with a good amount of disdain. To me it was hard to get through the book because the guy kept referring to his own relationships with people in the industry-

Also, he thinks that critics should not be anonymous- that to me is ridiculous in its own- how can you write an honest review of a establishment, if you were out eating salami sandwiches with the chef earlier that afternoon-

In my opinion the writer really gets off on rubbing elbows with restaurant elite-

Because he kept getting bogged down with being impressedm with himself, getting reservations at tough restaurants, etc., a lot of the material was hard to get through.

He also seems jealous of real writers and has to take a lot of shots at them-

Next time I see his name on a book cover- I'll skip it.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By GadgetChick on February 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I picked up a bargain copy of this at a bookstore and was glad I hadn't paid full price for it. The topic is interesting to me as I love eating at fine-dining restaurants, but this book was not a worthwhile exploration of that topic. I was hoping for the kind of insider scoop on restaurant operations you get from, say, Anthony Bourdain's books. Instead, this is all about how you, the lowly restaurant-going peasant, should suck up to hosts, waiters and chefs because what they do is soooo cool and you are soooo not worthy of their time and effort. I kept thinking of the term "scenester" when I read this - someone who is so interested in getting into the "hot" place du jour that they'll do anything short of humiliating themselves to get inside. The whole tone of the book is fawning towards chefs and restaurant owners/personnel and there's not really a lot of "insider" information here that you couldn't figure out for yourself. And the book is overcomplimentary towards restaurant people in the extreme. Shaw's book makes it seem like if a restaurant treats a customer poorly, it's obviously the customer's fault because fine restaurants run by celebrated chefs are pinnacles of perfection and couldn't possibly do anything wrong. It seemed to me like Shaw mainly wrote this book to give props to his chef friends and get accolades from people in the business for writing a book that made them look so good, and therefore get nsider access to even more chefs/restaurateurs (and free gourmet meals, of course). I don't think there was an honest intention here to give any kind of real "inside" story.

I agree with the reviewer who said this book is a lot like the discourse you'll find on eGullet, pretentious and self-righteously obsessed with details the average person could care less about. I couldn't even finish reading this. Another book for the charity pile, although frankly I feel bad about inflicting this on anyone else.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Magee on October 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a huge disappointment. Shaw provides some brief insight into to evolution of fusion cuisine, the benefits of becoming a "regular" and the decline of the french restaurant in America. Beyond that - it's self aggrandizing drivel. Give me a break. In an ironic twist, this volume of meaningless blathering reinforces Shaw's own suggestion that the restaurant reviewer's role in the dining equation is overrated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on August 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
About: Shaw, the founder of eGullet, discuses various aspects of the restaurant industry. He Visits and works in restaurants, their kitchens, and even goes to help select ingredients as well as conducts interviews and shares meals with chefs and other staff members. He provides a behind-the-scenes look at how restaurants (from the best to the not-so-great) are created, run and the food prepared. Food sources, restaurant reviews and reviewers as well as how to eat and order at a sushi bar are also covered.

Pros: There are a few good tips here about food (ahi is not a type of tuna at all, but bluefun tuna is more desirable than yellowfin) and restaurants (want primo treatment? Become a regular). Additional resources section is nice. There is a bibiliography, but there are no citations.

Cons. The bulk of the book reads like a namedropping lovefest of folks only foodies will have heard of. Shaw seems to enjoy letting everyone know who he knows and where has has eaten. He is very opinionated and shamelessly promotes himself and eGullet. The section on the internet and food blogging attempts to be written in a "you must have never heard of these things before" tone, but ends up coming off as patronizing. Even though he is a restaurant reviewer, he appears to have disdain for them, and judging from his fawning over them, Shaw is really just a wannabe chef.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
First up: I've never met Steven Shaw (except in egullet message threads), but I'm friends with his egullet co-founder. I don't think those two degrees of separation present a conflict of interest, but at least you know about it up front.

Actually, I began the book with some trepidation. Initially, it seemed that most of Shaw's discussion was about "fine dining," especially the sort of restaurants that absolutely require a reservation. And while I love those sort of places, I can't afford them very often. Certainly not often enough to wish for VIP status when I do go. So how useful could his advice be?

However, I like a lot of things about this book. One of them is that Shaw -- challenged to write better restaurant reviews *after* knowing what happens in the kitchen -- really spent a week at a time working for some well-known restaurants, and explains what the experience is like. (If you ever thought romantically about opening your own brasserie, that alone will probably talk you out of it. If that doesn't do it, his chapter about the finances of the restaurant business will teach you just how difficult it is.)

Even better, he follows the food chain to the sources -- going to the Fulton Fish Market at 2am to see how fish is purchased, to the Union Square green market with Modesto to learn how they choose herbs and vegetables, to the veal suppliers and the clam farmers(!). He writes very well about each excursion ("Mosner pulls a hunk of flesh out of the leg and hold it up like the triumphant father in _The Lion King_, while I marvel at his ability to be so upbeat at seven in the morning"), and discusses the challenges that each segment of the industry faces.
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