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Friday, November 04, 2005

The Seasoning of a Chef: Review & Contest

If you want to know what goes on in professional kitchens, there are several books that will tell you what it's like. Kitchen Confidential written by Tony Bourdain is particularly well-written and entertaining as well as informative. But the latest book by a chef turned writer is highly controversial. The book is The Seasoning of a Chef and the authors are chef Doug Psaltis and his brother and book agent, Michael Psaltis.

The main issues are that the exact circumstances under which Doug Psaltis left several restaurants are left a bit vague, that some of the stories he told have not been corroborated and that he dared to criticize his superiors, some of whom are referred to by pseudonyms in the book.

A curious question is: why would someone at only 31 years of age write an autobiography? After reading the book I think it was to try to gain some perspective and to share his view of the what it's like in the restaurant world. While we'll probably never know what really happened, this account is interesting and shows a career in restaurants that started at a remarkably early age. It paints a picture of a determined young man and the sacrifices he makes to get ahead. I am sorry there is not more description of the characters he worked with and the food itself. Some of the best writing is about the early years when Psaltis works in his grandfather's diner. I have the feeling the author and his grandfather, a boxer turned cook, have a lot in common...

While not nearly as well-written as Kitchen Confidential, it is definitely worth reading especially if you want to get some insight into the inner workings of the kitchen's of Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse, Wayne Nish, David Bouley and Dan Barber (referred to as "Peter" in the book). I suspect few other chefs have worked in all of those kitchens!

Cooking with Amy is giving away three copies of The Seasoning of a Chef. Winning copies are courtesy of Broadway Books.

The first three people to correctly answer the question below will win a a book. Choose the correct answer and post your guess in the comment section, be sure to include your email so I can contact you, if you win! Only one entry per person so choose carefully.

The most basic seasoning ingredient is right smack dab in the middle of the authors name--salt of course.

What American city is also the site of one of the largest salt deposits in the world?