Sunday, September 11, 2011

Four Kitchens by Lauren Shockey

If you're one of those people who enjoy watching the food shows on TV, even if you don't cook much, you'll appreciate Lauren Shockey's account of her year spent as an unpaid apprentice in four restaurants. Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris is a fascinating look behind the scenes. It's certainly not a glamorous job.

When Shockey graduated from college, she got a job working for a PR company, but she really wanted to cook. So, she quit her job, and enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. She was   obsessed with good food and drink. Even when she finished, she felt as if she needed more education. She tried an apprenticeship in a tiny restaurant in France, but found it unsatisfactory. Then, she came up with the idea of doing a year-long world tour of kitchens, working in restaurant kitchens in four cities.

Shockey's first job, at a New York restaurant, wd-50, prepared her for the physical nature of the rest of her year. She had twelve hour workdays, on her feet. She had pain in her back from standing, and in her forearms and shoulders from lifting. She's short, and small. She couldn't always reach everything, and gloves were too large. And, she was usually at the bottom of the kitchen hierarchy, so she became skilled at chopping. Although she was working as an unpaid apprentice, she realized restaurant workers have low salaries, long hours, and no benefits, in most cases. It's a young person's field.

Four Kitchens is a fascinating look into a field that often appears mysterious and glamorous. Shockey disabuses the reader of any notion of that. But, she manages to intertwine the restaurant business with the culture and food of the four cities. She includes recipes and stories of her life in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris. In the end, it was a journey of discovery for Schockey. We're just lucky she was willing to take readers with her into those Four Kitchens.

Lauren Shockey's website is

Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey. Grand Central Publishing. ©2011. ISBN 9780446559874 (hardcover), 337p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


bermudaonion said...

I bet both my husband and I would enjoy this one.

Lesa said...


This one is for anyone who enjoys memoirs, armchair travel, or is a foodie. It hits on a number of levels.


Lauren Shockey
i am listening about him or her first time

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