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Scars of a Chef: The Searing Story of a Top Chef Marked Forever by the Grit and Grace of Life in the Kitchen Hardcover – March 1, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chef and cookbook author Tramonto (Steak with Friends) has won acclaim for his restaurants and cookbooks, and in this memoir he takes readers into the kitchen to show them a chef's life. It ain't pretty, but it is edifying. As he was growing up in a volatile working-class family in Rochester, N.Y., Tramonto's dad was jailed for embezzlement, and young Rick, struggling with a learning disability, left high school in 1977 for his first culinary job, at Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers. He paid dues all along the way, working with terrifically talented and not a few temperamental chefs, succeeding (earning four-star reviews) and failing (losing a restaurant to fire, divorcing his culinary partner and wife, Gale Gand). As he narrates it, only when he hears a Christian radio broadcast one dark day in his car does he begin to find a way out. Tramonto and his co-writer favor speed over detail and successfully convey how driven and intensely focused the author's career has been. Anyone with a romantic view of the restaurant business should read this mea culpa and redemption tale. (Mar.)
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Knowing where Rick came from, I’m even more impressed with what he has been able to accomplish. If you enjoy reading about food, restaurants, and the people who create them, you’ll find Scars of a Chef an interesting read. And if you are committed to personal growth and understanding, I think you’ll be touched by Rick’s journey. As he begins a new chapter in his life, I can’t wait to see what surprises Rick has in store for us. (Richard Melman, Founder and chairman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.)

Raw is the only word I can find to describe this piece. A journey through what many experience but are not brave enough to reveal . . . the dreams, the disappointments, and the ultimate triumph are so vividly recalled it’s as if Rick were sitting across the room speaking directly to you. A must-read for anyone who has ever wondered if their past truly defines their future. (Charlie Trotter)

Scars of a Chef is a page turner—not just because it details Rick Tramonto’s troubling times or glamorous moments but because of the deep honesty with which Rick shares all of his life with us. Rick is one of America’s most talented chefs; passionate, dedicated, and committed to the highest level of culinary art. And like any great artist, Rick is a complicated person with all the scars to show for his pain and passions. As we see him rebound and triumph even as his life takes new turns, we, too, find hope to dream new dreams. (Michael Lomonaco, Executive chef/partner, Porter House New York)

Rick candidly shares his life journey as a person and a chef. This book is a true testament to his love of the kitchen and determination to succeed. (Emeril Lagasse)

Scars of a Chef looks deep into the soul of an iconic American chef. Rick Tramonto is both brutally honest and open in his tale of how he beat the odds in life and saved himself and his family. A beautiful testament to love. (John Besh, Chef/owner, Besh Restaurant Group)

This book gives young chefs a peek into what it really takes, not only to be a great chef, but to be a great person. (Michael Symon, 2009 James Beard Award, Best Chef: Great Lakes)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: SaltRiver (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414331622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414331621
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a fan of The Food Network and the Top Chef series so when the opportunity to review a book by a chef from Top Chef Masters, Rick Tramonto, came my way, I looked forward to it. Scars of a Chef documents Tramonto's life from childhood through all of his successes as a world-renowned chef and then some.

Spending his teenage years struggling in school experimenting with drugs, Tramonto found that work was the one thing that would keep him out of trouble. From his first days in the food industry working at a new franchise location for Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers, Tramonto details his education in food as he climbed the ranks of the culinary industry.

The book was interesting to me up until about page 200 where I was really feeling like I was just reading a chef's version of name-dropping. At this point, I was also still waiting to hear about Tramonto's relationship with God (which actually didn't begin until late in Tramonto's career).

Scars of a Chef is engaging and, as a bonus, the author shares some of his recipes at the end of every chapter. If you are a foodie or a fan of Tramonto, this book won't disappoint.

****A copy of Scars of a Chef was provided to me free of charge from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for either a positive or negative review of this book
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Format: Hardcover
Scars of a Chef is a story about success and failure and a lot in between.

Scars of a Chef is an inspirational auto biography of world acclaimed Chef Rick Tramonto, a phoenix like man, continually rising from the ashes. Sometimes the ashes are self inflicted. In an almost painfully honest account of his drive for success and fear of failure, Rick describes his undiagnosed learning disability, dysfunctional childhood, and how these difficulties molded his determination. Along the way Rick had many mentors who helped chart the way for his road to stardom and success. He shares cooking and growing in the United States and Europe in a way you at once can taste the beauty, challenge, joy and sadness.

It's not just about the kitchen and the restaurant business, it's about human nature and it strengths and shortcomings. It's a story about an extraordinary work ethic and learning to balance work with love, family, God, and self.

Scars of the Chef an inspirational must read for anyone who ever questioned the value of determination in accomplishing ones goals, and tells of the challenges and sacrifices associated with success.

Tyndale publishing has provided me with a copy of this book. It has in no way influenced this review.

Scars of a Chef: The Searing Story of a Top Chef Marked Forever by the Grit and Grace of Life in the Kitchen
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Format: Hardcover
Until I read "Scars of a Chef," I thought anyone who could follow a recipe could cook. I've persisted in this belief for years, though personal experience has told me differently. Perhaps I should have put two and two together: cooking is not an exact science, but rather a grand science experiment. Rick Tramonto (along with other chefs mentioned in his book) is an extraordinary food scientist.

I was amazed at the amount of work required to learn how to cook like he does. His story is fascinating--of studying for decades to become the master chef he is and of his spiritual development along the way. I may not be a foodie, but I learned much about them while reading this book.

And his testimony just about made me cry. I love learning the stories of how Christ draws people to Himself. These reaffirm my own faith and prompt me to pray all the harder for loved ones who haven't come to know Jesus--yet.

As a bonus, Tramonto closes each chapter with a recipe. If I had any doubts about my above conclusion, these affirmed it for me. I can read these recipes, but I don't even recognize half the ingredients. One calls for horseradish foam--I wondered if I'd need to find a horse with rabies. Then I noticed he included a recipe for the horseradish foam. One ingredient--2 iSi N2O cream chargers. Sounds like rabid horses to me. I don't think I'll be preparing these recipes--though most of them sound really good. Instead I'll be passing the book on to my brother. Perhaps he can cook someday An Enlightenfor me!

If you enjoy inspirational biographies, whether or not you cook well, I recommend this book to you! Thank you, Tyndale House Publishers, for sending it for my review.
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Format: Hardcover
I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. I'm about as far from a chef as you can get, and I'm not the type to pick up any book that talks about chefs, kitchens, drug use, culinary school or the mob... all of which were thoroughly covered in Rick Tramonto's Scars of a Chef.

At first, I couldn't understand what it was about this book that would warrant it being suggested as suitable material for readers of Christian non-fiction. Now that I've finished the book, I'm glad I didn't give up on it... it was worth the read.

Rick Tramonto was born into a big, old school Italian family. His young mind molded by the four "F's" - food, friends, family and fraud. Add domestic violence, more drug use than you'd see in Scarface, family members being sent to prison and familial mob ties to the mix and you'd only get as far as Chef Tramonto's high school years. This isn't an "I found God and now my life is instantly better and I will never have pain or struggle for the rest of my days!" kind of book. It's more of an "I found God, felt better, life got in the way, I struggled, I backslid, found God again, and now I'm living day by day, doing the best I can with what I have" book - which although maybe not as awe-inspiring as some "Hallelujah! I've Seen The Light!" books, to me it's better, because it's real.

What I got from this book was an incredible admiration for Chef Tramonto's persistence and dedication to his craft. When he set his mind to something, he accomplished it. The journey to the end result may have had some serious detours and there may have been a bridge or two that were out of order, causing major delays, but in the end, his immeasurable love of his profession and his hardcore dedication are inspiring.

My favorite part of the book...
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