There are two things I really liked about Spiced, (2009) a book about becoming a chef and working in restaurant kitchens.
First, the inside info of the goings-on in the off-limits areas of restaurants - the good, the bad, and the funny. And second, the mouth watering descriptions of foods, their preparation, and the unusual pastries and desserts concocted by pastry chefs in three star restaurants.
It was interesting to learn that many chefs work long hours for just average wages, without health insurance, and hit the burn out point often, having to change jobs or rotate the types of food prep they do.
Dalia Jurgensen left her routine job in publishing to attend pastry school and work in a succession of restaurants, preparing appetizers, pastries, main dishes, and finally pastries again. She doesn't have much time to socialize; her off hours are often spent with her coworkers after work, winding down in bars at midnight after the restaurant is closed. She has surprising and not-so-surprising romantic dalliances with various chefs.
What I missed in the book, however, was a stronger story thread that would link up her restaurant and chef experiences and show a progression to the place where she is now. We know that later in her career, she was reviewed by food critics from top newspapers, but this was not an achievement she dwelt on or showed as a high point or culmination of her hard work under various chefs. At least, that was not a strong impression.
The book thus seems to be a chronological account of her career without that main theme to carry it all the way through. Even the ending seems to be "more of the same."
Her unusual desserts in the pastry kitchen, however, sound finger-licking good! Some simpler recipes and a taste of what her book is about can be found at her website, My Spiced Life.
Book provided by the publisher, Putnam Adult, for my objective review.