- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (April 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399155619
- ISBN-13: 978-0399155611
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 56 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,613,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen Hardcover – April 16, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Your lack of experience doesn't bother me, Jurgensen's first boss in a restaurant kitchen told her. It just means... you haven't learned any bad habits yet. From that auspicious beginning, Jurgensen, pastry chef at Dressler in Brooklyn, makes a few mistakes along the way (one time, she managed to burn a hole in the bottom of a pot while trying to melt chocolate), although she steadily improves, landing jobs at several impressive Manhattan restaurants (with an interlude as a chef for Martha Stewart's TV show). In this amiable narrative, she describes various pitfalls: a hookup with one of her bosses eventually settles into a dating relationship; when they break up, it's right back to work for Jurgensen ever the professional. The edgy backstage atmosphere will be instantly familiar to fans of chef memoirs, but Jurgensen's promise of a feminine perspective to the sexist environment is barely fulfilled by the indifferent telling of a few raunchy anecdotes and her insistence that she got over it because she had no other choice. Individually, the stories are never anything less than entertaining, but when they're put together it feels like there's one more ingredient missing—an elusive something that would make a good dish great. (Apr.)
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"Great insider stuff and a valuable addition to the annals of first-person culinary history."
-Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential
"This is a personal memoir of a young chef's experience in restaurant kitchens. It is funny, interesting and - for me, as a chef and owner of a restaurant - an illuminating insight into how other kitchens work. I loved reading it and plan to give this book to all my chefs."
-Ruth Rogers, Chef Owner, The River Café, London
"Never anything less than entertaining.... In this amiable narrative, Jurgensen describes various pitfalls: a hookup with one of her bosses eventually settles into a dating relationship; when they break up, it's right back to work for Jurgensen, ever the professional. The edgy 'backstage' atmosphere will be instantly familiar to fans of chef memoirs."
"Everything you always wanted to know about working in a high-powered restaurant kitchen. She has experienced nearly everything in and out of a high-end kitchen: on-the- job romance, getting freaked out by a visit from New York Times review goddess Ruth Reichl and, of course, being privy to some brilliant food. Despite the up-and- down wackiness of the restaurant world, Jurgensen loves her lot in life, and her debut memoir reflects great affection for the professional kitchen. Jurgensen does a nice job with the female perspective in the testosterone-centric kitchen culture. She gently dishes on former part-time employer Martha Stewart, and her experience as a pastry chef puts a slightly different slant on the proceedings."
"Jurgensen's book takes readers on a culinary adventure through her rise as a pastry chef at New York's best restaurants. A quick read, this book will appeal to those interested in chef stories and what happens behind the scenes in the kitchen."
Top customer reviews
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Ok.. yeah.. second thoughts... I'd buy it still.
If you've done kitchen at all.. you'll enjoy.
For those who expected a cookbook, this isn't marketed as a cookbook. It's a memoir. Big difference! There isn't one recipe in this memoir.
Before you invest in culinary school or decide to switch careers, this book is worth a read to get a sense of what the work, income, and lifestyle is like. I truly appreciate Jurgensen sharing her life experiences. There are many food memiors out there and few hold my attention like this one did.
I grabbed the appropriate dishes for the hummus and baba and spooned a dollop of each into their respective bowls. The hummus got a small well of extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice and was topped with finely chopped red onion, toasted pignoli nuts, and chopped chives. The smoky baba, a roasted eggplant dip, got a sprinkle of chopped black olives, tomato concasse, and chopped parsley. And then, just to be sure, because it had been that kind of a day, I dipped my finger into the hummus, then into my mouth. Delicious. It wasn't until I set the small plates on the bar for pickup that I noticed the two guys sitting further down at the bar, drinks in hand. // "I saw that," one of them mouthed with a self-satisfied grin. I smiled weakly at them, wiping my finger on a side towel. Most of the time I loved working in an open kitchen -- being able to see the diners, look out the windows, and hear the music -- but every once in a while we got someone with an obnoxious comment. "If you're afraid of people touching your food," I wanted to sneer back, "don't eat in a restaurant." (74)
I ran downstairs thinking of nothing else besides collecting my desserts and making a good impression. It is the day that every ambitious restaurant hopes for. Both Joey and the owner knew what she looked like, and for those who didn't, they'd posted an old photocopy of her face that had been passed through the restaurant world. We also had a list of known aliases she'd used in the past, as well as some phone and credit card numbers that had gone with them. Though we all like to believe that every single diner receives equal treatment and food, the reality is that no one gets the complete and utter devotion and focus of the entire restaurant staff like the critic from the New York Times. // I was back upstairs in five minutes, desserts in hand, searching through my candied rose petals for the most beautiful specimens, picking over my various tuiles for those that were perfectly baked and formed. I planned every inch of each plate. (159)