No Reservations writes a tell all about the restaurant industry. It's not a tell in the style of an expose on what really happens to your food, it's a tell all about the characters who tend to inhabit restaurant jobs and end up making careers of it.
I loved this book because it echoes truth. I worked in restaurants for about ten years after high school and the cast of characters that make up the core crew of any restaurant are some of the most interesting and most damaged people you're going to meet. Of course there is a heavy contingent of folks just working their way through college but the ones that you see on your shift closing down at 1 AM and then back the next morning cutting lemons beside you at 8 in the morning are people you want to know. Restaurants also contrast with the corporate environment in that the work is low paid, easy to find and in most cases temporary. This allows people to behave in a more open and genuine manner, which for good or for ill allows you to get to know your coworkers much faster than you do in a more sterile environment.
I love the TV show The Office, breaking it down the basic premise is what would happen if people acted at work exactly like they do in their private lives but I've seen that show played out in every restaurant job I've had. Anthony Bordain tells the stories of how he got into the restaurant industry and tells the stories of the characters he encountered in his journey from dishwasher to to chef. I loved how realistic his description of the type of people who take each job in a restaurant, from the bartender to the sous chef to the expediter. Also this is the first book that completely captures how when you work in a restaurant it becomes your whole world, your social life, your dining room, and the place you get paid all rolled into one. Home is just a place where you sleep it off until it's time to do it again.
So if you've ever done a summer in a kitchen I would highly recommend this book.
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