Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen

Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the KitchenI wanted to like this book than I ultimately did The individual sections were all for the most part interesting, but it just felt like there wasn t much of a challenge , if that makes any sense Jurgensen just kept becoming a better, experienced cook, and moving up to better positions at newer restaurants, some of which fared better than others Even the hyper sexism of the restaurant kitchen world seems less like an obstacle to overcome than a slice of life from which to draw anecdotes, largely because of the way Jurgensen shrugs it off and says there s nothing to be done about it anyway.This is certainly a well written memoir, and it s probably the fault of my own expectations that I didn t feel like there was enough at stake to grab me emotionally as well as intellectually It s one of those cases where I can totally see how I might be wrong about a book, too, so I strongly encourage people to read it and make up their own minds. There is a theoretical limit to the number of first person books which can be written with the topic sentence How I went from nothing to being a great chef and the adventures I had along the way That limit appears to be far from being reached Dalia Jurgensen abandoned a career in publishing to pursue the chef s life This memoir describes how she got from nowhere to somewhere and her adventures along the way It includes some memorable characters whose names have been changed to avoid the lawsuits It conveys a good sense of the craziness that goes on in even the finest restaurant kitchens It reveals how much cooks hate waiters and how much savoury cooks hate pastry cooks It reveals lots about Ms Jurgensen s sex life than any reasonable reader would want to know Following her career path, the book affords a quick look behind the scenes at such restaurants as Nobu, Layla and La C te Basque Jurgensen is a pastry chef Her descriptions of her original desserts are excellent but the book would have benefited from the inclusion of her recipes The adept home cook should be able to reconstruct them from her descriptions alone Anthony Bourdain calls this book a valuable addition to the annals of first person culinary history It is, but in a small way. Becoming a pastry chef is one of my ultimate fantasy dream jobs so I was instantly intrigued by this book and excited to read it Dalia, or Doll as her boss calls her, is a witty, intelligent, and strong storyteller Much like her career and rise to the top, the book was very fast paced and I devoured it in one night I loved sharing in her adventures of kitchen politics, lust, love, and creative baking Her descriptions of the desserts, the chefs, and other characters were all so rich and decadent She was very candid about her negative experiences and modest when sharing her accolades I am a new fan and would definitely make a journey out to Brooklyn to try one of her desserts and maybe catch her in action I was impressed by her feminist take on the profession and her ability to shrug off the misogynistic atmosphere and blatant sexual harassment at many of the restaurants Her dish about celebrity chefs including my personal favorite, Martha Stewart was just juicy enough, but also discreet and respectful when appropriate I also enjoyed her chapter on the restaurant food business s response to 9 11, it offered a new perspective on the tragedy that I hadn t known Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any foodie, career changer, or any person seeking a little creative inspiration. I didn t really enjoy this book not because it s a bad book, but because it made me angry, even though the author didn t say anything I didn t already know It s a really realistic portrait of life in a restaurant kitchen for a woman, it can be hell on earth until you develop such a thick skin that the level of misogyny and homophobia among cooks and chefs just stops bothering you Some restaurants are great places to work, but the majority are still basically clubhouses for 12 year old boys who giggle over the word boobies Why would anyone do that to themselves In Jurgensen s case, it s her passionate love for the craft of cooking that love has to be strong enough that it s worth all the hardships, not the least of which are terrible hours and even worse pay with little recognition The cult of celebrity chefs is mostly laughed at by people actually working in the restaurant industry, and it s easy to see why As far as the book itself, it was pretty entertaining, though it never really feels like it goes anywhere The author is an engaging writer, but there s no narrative curve, no real point it ends very abruptly with the author going from I was working in this kitchen with horrible people to hey, maybe I ll have a baby, within the space of a single page, and that s kind of it It s like someone yelled, Dalia, you ve got five minutes to finish that book or we ll shoot this puppy I was left staring at the Acknowledgments page thinking, hey, I was reading that Prepare to be immersed in a career where burns are a source of pride, labor laws don t seem to apply, and the validation of one s self worth balances tenuously on a single thing the opinion of the New York Times Restaurant Reviewer Spiced gives us a colorful, behind the scenes look into the life of a professional chef.Author Dalia Jurgensen had a respectable office job before she spontaneously quit and dove headfirst into her dream of becoming a chef Spiced follows Jurgensen s career from her start as a lowly nighttime pastry assistant through culinary school and eventually to success as an executive pastry chef Alongside Jurgensen, the reader gets to experience the trials and delights of every position in a variety of restaurant kitchens Whether it is an acclaimed Japanese restaurant or the Martha Stewart Show, Jurgensen s done it all She was even part of the establishing crews of two brand new Manhattan restaurants.Spiced covers so many characters and such a wide spectrum of settings that it occasionally loses some of its richness But overall, Spiced is a fast, vibrant, and exciting read that will surely inspire a trip to the nearest gourmet food store. I feel like over the past few months I ve read a lot of memoirs about cooking and food and fancy restaurants This one wasn t my favorite fave, but it wasn t bad by any means Dalia decides at age 25 to leave her corporate job and start at culinary school The culinary school part only gets a few pages of text the majority of the story is dedicated to her on the job training, and how she eventually finds herself as a pastry chef in several high end restaurants.She has a nice writing style and a love of food, but the book doesn t really pop There are times when she starts to kiss and tell, but then leaves the reader hanging like after she has a lesbian tryst with a waitress at her first job, and then never discusses anything further than the fact that she avoided the waitress the next day She also repeats some of her same themes over and over again several paragraphs throughout the book about how you have to suck it up even if you get burned, how kitchens are full of dudes who run their mouths, how the cooks look down on the waiters, etc A good read, a quick read, but not on my top books of 2010 list. Read Dahlia Jurgensen S Posts On The Penguin Blog A Clever And Affectionate Glimpse At The Truth About What Goes On Behind That Swinging Door, Full Of Great Insider Stuff Anthony Bourdain Life In A Restaurant Kitchen Is Strenuous And Exciting, While Its Inhabitants Areunique In This Testosterone Laden Atmosphere, Dalia Jurgensen Tirelessly Pursued Her Dream Of Becoming A Chef, Working Her Way Up Though New York S Top Restaurants In Her Deliciously Entertaining Memoir, She Divulges The Dynamics Between Cooks And Waiters, Chefs And Food Critics, And Heated Affairs Between Staff Members Written With Sincere Love For The Industry, This Is A Candid Insider S Tour From The Unique Perspective Of An Acclaimed Pastry Chef I think you have to be particularly self absorbed to think you can write your memoir at the age of 37 Unless there s something wildly unique extraordinary about you, or your life has just been one harrowing set of adventures after another, you just don t have the wisdom and experience it takes to write a really good memoir You just haven t lived a life that warrants the interest Unfortunately, Dalia Jurgenson is no exception Her book is bland Nothing about it is the least bit remarkable, and it never once delivers on the promise of its subtitle It s boring Jurgenson seems to want to turn it into a behind the scenes tell all, but like her life, there are no bold moves in her book no taking life by the horns and going for the gusto In short, no YOLO There s not even a hint of girl power to establish her success in the middle of a male dominated world Jurgenson just seems to drift, going where the tide takes her, with no plan, no concrete ideas, no goals beyond the vague desire to cook It s not awful But neither is it good It just is. I ve posted a review of Spiced on my book blog, checked Dalia Jurgensen s website, www.myspicedlife.com for some of the delicious dessert recipes she writes about in her book, but none are there She has fairly simple recipes like banana bread, brownies, and cookies on her website.What blew me away in her book was a description of the employee bathroom in one of the restaurants she worked in I wonder if I ll ever want to eat in a restaurant again before I inspect their employee facilities Behind the scenes info is quite interesting, especially the streamlining of the work, layout of kitchens, and the relationships and hierarchies among kitchen staff Wish there had been a stronger story thread however, to keep my attention going through the book I found myself flipping pages towards the end. Not bad, not bad, refreshing after Bourdain s sad sack of an effort of how a pastry chef experiences a career But this beeyatch is EXTREMELY lucky Right away she is working at 3 star, 4 star restaurants, hotels, working with Martha Stewart s test kitchen, developing her own recipes and selling them At times her time in the kitchen reads like women in the military than women in the kitchen, but rightly so you really get to see the other side of Bourdain s sexist behavior It also probably helped that Dalia is hot and ready to have sex all the time and with women too So those exploits are fine to read I did laugh out loud at her description at the last restaurant with the crazy Boston chef, but overall a fun book for people curious about pastry business, but not a must read.

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  • Kindle Edition
  • 288 pages
  • Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen
  • Dalia Jurgensen
  • English
  • 27 March 2018

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