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At the French Culinary Institute, Lauren Shockey learned to salt food properly, cook fearlessly over high heat, and knock back beers like a pro. But she also discovered that her real culinary education wouldn't begin until she actually worked in a restaurant. After a somewhat disappointing apprenticeship in the French provinces, Shockey hatched a plan for her dream year: tAt the French Culinary Institute, Lauren Shockey learned to salt food properly, cook fearlessly over high heat, and knock back beers like a pro. But she also discovered that her real culinary education wouldn't begin until she actually worked in a restaurant. After a somewhat disappointing apprenticeship in the French provinces, Shockey hatched a plan for her dream year: to apprentice in four high-end restaurants around the world. She started in her hometown of New York City under the famed chef Wylie Dufresne at the molecular gastronomy hotspot wd-50, then traveled to Vietnam, Israel, and back to France. From the ribald kitchen humor to fiery-tempered workers to tasks ranging from the mundane (mincing cases of shallots) to the extraordinary (cooking seafood on the line), Shockey shows us what really happens behind the scenes in haute cuisine, and includes original recipes integrating the techniques and flavors she learned along the way. With the dramatic backdrop of restaurant life, readers will be delighted by the adventures of a bright and restless young woman looking for her place in the world. ...

Title : Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780446559874
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris Reviews

  • lana
    2019-05-14 00:21

    As someone who works in kitchens, I found myself wanting to tell the author-repeatedly- that staging in a restaurant feels nothing like working there. She receives a lot of praise and seems to do well as an intern, but her self-congratulating tone gets old quickly. She does do a good job of dispelling the notion that kitchen work is exciting or glamorous- it's often repetitive and tedious, especially for new initiates- and I think it's been a while since someone has made that point in print. She also raises some issues that any woman entering professional kitchen life will have to grapple with eventually (questions of family, hierarchy, work environment). Considering all the hype and excitement surrounding culinary careers right now, I think that overall this provides a pretty sober look at what the world is really like, and it would be good reading for anyone who is thinking about spending 40k+ on culinary school. The brief sections that describe her romantic life- or lack thereof- don't seem to fit into the overall story, and I have to wonder if her editor asked for their inclusion to increase the 'human interest' aspect of the book. Similarly, her writing about friendships is the weakest and seems forced at times.I was actually more interested in hearing about what she did when she decided to leave professional kitchens, but none of that transition was included in the book.

  • Jessica Malzman
    2019-05-06 17:06

    Four Kitchens is a must read! I could not put this book down. Lauren riveting tale of her year traveling the globe as a stagier is truly inspiring. She is a brave young woman and a witty and insightful writer. As both an avid traveler and a “foodie” myself I found her story utterly captivating. She is exceptionally observant and her descriptions successfully capture the essence not only of the cities that she lives in but of the people that she meets along the way. Inspired by what I have learned from this book, particularly in the author’s fond depiction of life in Hanoi, I have begun research and am already planning a future trip to Vietnam. While I am there I will most certainly visit La Verticale! It is unlikely that I will pay a visit to the famous restaurant that Lauren visits with her friend Hung but you never of the characteristics that endears this author to the reader is her willingness to “do as the locals do” and her sense of curiosity and her genuine interest in learning about other cultures both inside and outside of the kitchen. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those with an inquisitive palate and a penchant for an exhilarating travel story. I can’t wait to see what Lauren Shockey will do next!

  • Emily
    2019-05-04 19:19

    A well-written and engaging book, but unfortunately, the writing doesn’t do much to make the writer terribly likable. Ms. Shockey portrays herself as nearly faultless - every restaurant seems to think her the best stage ever to work there, all offer her a job - or comment that she’s obviously going far better places than staying in the kitchen with them. The book would have benefited greatly from a degree of humility about things more than inexperience and a dimming down of the self-satisfaction that fills the writing. It seems apparent that the author is used to writing blog posts and articles - what can pass in a short piece grows grating over the length of a memoir.However the different cultures - restaurant and country - portrayed are very interesting. I definitely enjoyed seeing how the different kitchens were run and how the different chefs approached their work. As a Top Chef fan, I especially enjoyed the look into Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant. Thanks to NetGalley for the reading copy.

  • Liz
    2019-05-24 21:06

    I hate to bash on an ambitious young person, since I am only a few years older than this author, but man, does she need a slice of humble pie. The premise is that after growing up in Manhattan and graduating from the U of C, she decides to spend her savings (?) from a year at a crappy PR job to support a four-country jaunt as a stage in highly regarded restaurant kitchens, then write a book about it. She comes from a family whose parents have "eaten foie gras in virtually every possible iteration" and manages to get her first stage assignment at wd-50, one of NYC's most famous (and expensive) modern restaurants. But this will not prove to be sufficient reward. Her childhood was shaped by a two-year stint in Budapest (warning to my Hungarian friends, you may soon feel wrath), where her lawyer father worked to "get the country up to speed with the rest of the world that hadn't been locked behind the iron curtain." Thinking back on her time spent as a 10-year-old absorbing Hungary's "outdated, drab Communist facade," "somber grayness" and "daily aggravations and hardships," the intrepid author realizes she yearns to travel to places not "completely tainted by globalization and commercialization."With this background, I hoped that she would have recognized the likelihood of coming off as entitled and/or spoiled and would emphasize her own naivete as a young chef, but no. Instead we are treated to a repetitious litany of the compliments bestowed on her by Chef Wylie and the other staff, a complaint that after a whole two weeks working in the prep kitchen, she "was finally deemed competent enough to go upstairs and assist with plating and preparing all the appetizers during the dinner service," and a rather personal skewering of a brief-lived fellow stage whose only purpose for appearing in the book seems to be to make its author look awesomer. After her three months at wd-50 (which holds three stars from the NY Times), she deems it "too focused on technique," and flies away to Vietnam on the next stop of her quest for "a restaurant that focuses more on taste."If the chefs, co-workers and others who appear in this book nodded their heads and cheered her on while reading it, then I stand corrected in my assessment of her presumptuousness. But after 100 pages, I mostly felt sorry about the unfairness of someone who's already benefited from--and absorbed--such privilege being given a book deal.

  • Pam
    2019-05-02 00:04

    The book had its good points, like the recipes and descriptions of what kind of work goes into a kitchen like wd-50's. But the biggest problem I had with this book was that I just didn't like the author. Since this is a memoir, not liking the author and her voice is a big problem. She started coming off as a bit entitled and never really happy with anything. wd-50 was too bogged-down in technique rather than satisfying food. La Verticale had delicious food, but the other chefs weren’t passionate about their work and cooking was just a job. Carmella Bistro in Tel Aviv was too mundane. Senderens, a restaurant in Paris with 2 Michelin stars, was too fussy and Parisians were snobs. I will also freely admit that part of my dislike of the author stems from jealousy. When she didn’t like doing office work after graduating from University, she was able to drop $40,000 on culinary school then spend a year travelling around the world learning from chefs in top restaurants without ever having to hold down a paying job. Must be nice.

  • Denise
    2019-05-24 21:55

    I'm calling this "read" even though I am only 82% done. This book is taking me forever to read - I want to read it (mostly), I read a little every night, I don't want to DNF it, but it puts me to sleep every time. It moves so slow, there are so many scenes of cutting vegetables (I now hate shallots), and it just seems like there could have been much more.The author decides after culinary school to "stage" at 4 different restaurants in 4 different countries for no pay, just the experience. Apparently financed by her parents she comes across as a bit entitled, and a bit ungrateful. She has more complaints than compliments about each restaurant, and while she does give a good feel for working in the different kitchens, does not seem to have much respect for the overall experience she was lucky enough to have.For me this was read like the adventures of a privileged young adult.

  • Randal
    2019-05-06 00:08

    I really wanted to like this book -- it's been on my to-read list for a couple of years. The content is fine -- working as an intern (called throughout a stage) at restaurants around the world, including Wylie Dufrense's wd~50. The recipes are worth looking at. But overall it falls flat.A few little pas amusants to go with all the amuses the author samples along the way ...* As noted by many reviewers here, her combination of self-entitlement and apparent lack of gratitude adds a harsh note. Not everybody can afford to travel the world and work for free (says the guy who cooked his way through two university degrees); to then snipe at the restaurants where she worked seems rude (Except perhaps for the French restaurant that charged her for her going-away meal). Yes, they get free labor, but the trainees get to learn cuisines and techniques that can't be acquired any other way ... a literally invaluable experience for someone in the trade. It's probably inevitable she should pass judgment on the experience, but the tone is ... wrong.She comes across as a person I would not want to sit down and spend an afternoon with over a drink and a couple of plates of food, which made me sad, because those are the writers I like to read.* Her entirely tin ear for dialogue. She quotes whole conversations with people from several different cultures over the book and amazingly they all speak in the same voice except she throws in the occasional grammatical error by the non-native speakers and has the English expat say "brilliant." The rude boys in the kitchen, her parents, her expat friends and chefs from three different continents all sound pretty much like Lauren Shockey.* She doesn't evoke tastes all that well, so when I saw that she is now a food critic I was surprised. Perhaps because she did this when she was 25 and didn't have the range of experiences to provide good comparisons.Mostly the book lacks wisdom -- she generalizes about too many things (how expats eat; how Frenchmen act; the reasons why molecular gastronomy is popular) -- where the reader would be better served by close observation and detail. It is billed as "my life" in the kitchens, but it's not a life, it's not even a year. From the title I was expecting a career's worth of insight, not a few months. But the observations, and the book's value as a read, are correspondingly shallow.So kudos to her for taking on the experience (even if Daddy's billable hours at a Manhattan law firm paid the freight). But it wasn't worth the wait.

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-21 20:57

    I applaud Lauren for knowing what she wanted and finding a way to pursue her dreams of wanting to be a chef. After Lauren’s disaster in France, some people would have thrown in the towel and been done but Lauren decided to try again only this time at three different locations. Lauren would apprenticeship. The first being in her home town of New York, than Tel Aviv, Israel and finally to Paris, France. Lauren’s first stop…wd-50. Wylie Dufresne’s place. Anyone who is a foodie, works in the culinary world or is a fan of Top Chef is familiar with Wylie. Wylie is into molecular gastronomy. This technique is the movement to incorporate science and new techniques in the preparation and presentation of food. While, I didlikegetting the behind the scenes look into the restaurant world and Wylie’s place, I did wish that I could have learned some more about some of the different techniques Wylie was doing. The recipes though that came from his restaurant that appeared in this book sounded yummy. In Tel Aviv, the people were really friendly and the restaurant that Lauren worked at had a more laid back approach. Paris, those people say it like it is and as Lauren learned sometimes you just have to take it like a man. Of course, I would imagine the chefs have to be serious as the food that they produce is great. For anyone who is a foodie or just loves to cook and try new things, than you should check this book out. It will give you a nice brief look into the culinary world and as an added bonus you can try out some of the yummy recipes from each location that Lauren visited that are included in this book.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-22 21:09

    I've read a number of autobiographical tales from behind the spoon. Each one offers a unique view of cultures and experiences that as a home cook, I will doubtfully ever experience myself. Congrats to Lauren Shockey for having the guts to follow her dreams. It takes courage and spirit to travel the world and find your bliss. I enjoyed the descriptive aspect of the new scenery though the conversations were not well written. However, the level of whining and ingratitude for the training and patience she received at these restaurants is unbelievable. Yes - they are getting free labour. Yes - the kitchen life is hard. None of this should have been suprising so, no - you should not disrespect the same people who helped you build your skills, vocabulary, life experiences and welcomed you with quite little to offer in return. It costs the restaurants time, money and staff to help you learn. Smack talking their cuisine and techniques is rude and ungrateful. Maybe one thing on your list of skills to acquire, according to this book anyway, is some humility and appreciation. Maybe some understanding that all professions require hard work and that your boss shouldn't be grateful that you deigned to bless them with your presence.I've not read anything else by this author so perhaps this is a blip or some maturity has been acquired in the past three years. Either way, I hope the chefs who gave so generously of their experience, regardless of their actual presence in the kitchen which was so frequently referred to, are a forgiving and understanding sort. Otherwise, I'd stay out of their kitchens in the future. You wouldn't be able to take the heat.

  • Zovig
    2019-05-23 19:56

    Following in a spate of food memoirs that I've read recently that are by extraordinarily talented writers (Ruth Reichl and Fucshia Dunlop among the best), this book about a young culinary school grad who stages at restaurants in nyc, paris, vietnam, and israel, is underwhelming. The author never recognizes the privilege of her life as an upper middle class kid who gets the chance to stage around the world (with parents who can afford to visit her whereever she goes). More interesting than her story would probably be trying to get the stories of the people she works with around the world. While she does a little bit of that, she stays at the center. Even more damning, there's no real urgency to this story. She decides to take a year to stage around the world. Aside from some crushes on boys that go nowhere, one Parisian boss who makes inappropriately sexual comments, and this one time that Wylie Dufresne scolded her for her plating of a dish, there's no conflict. She just floats along, rather boringly.I'm going to try her tip for cooking sous vide without a circulator though. That sounded like a good tip.

  • Gretchen Hicks
    2019-05-08 16:59

    I liked this even more than I thought I would. I am an avid home cook with occasional aspirations of becoming pro. It was like she did everything I have dreamed of doing, described it in great detail and came to the same conclusion I think I would. That being a chef is not really what she wanted to do with her life and that she was not able to express herself through cooking in the medium of a professional kitchen.

  • Michelle
    2019-04-28 20:59

    I found the cooking pretty interesting and enjoyed some of the cultural info. I had a hard time putting aside the feeling that the author had no idea how privileged she was to stop grad school, complete cooking school, then work around the world unpaid for a year without ever mentioning money concerns.

  • Glen U
    2019-05-09 22:05

    Enjoyable, informative, surprisingly well written, this book follows an American woman through her travails and discoveries , as she works as an unpaid intern in four different but reputable restaurants around the globe. A good read, but Anthony Bourdain does it better.

  • Elizabeth C. Haynes
    2019-05-04 19:13

    It's just...boring. It's ok writing overall with the exception of dialogue, which is very badly written. Really there just is nothing particularly interesting going on. Going to the giveaway pile.

  • Joni
    2019-05-18 18:02

    Got 3/4 of the way through and returned it to the library. I got sick of the author 'humble-bragging' about her kitchen prowess and travels around the world.

  • Robin
    2019-05-20 00:51

    While she did have a romantic view of what it was to be a chef and restaurant kitchen life in general -- until she did it -- the travel background of the book is very interesting

  • Kim
    2019-04-30 21:20

    There are many books about becoming a chef. Although I did not find the author's life in the kitchen story all that compelling, I do like how she gave details about how she spent her "free time" exploring her surrounding areas. I also liked how she described her co-workers. I hope the author continues to write; she would write some interesting travelogues.

  • Julia
    2019-05-14 21:02

    A chef's memoir that leaves you wishing she had just stuck to cooking. I read it for the section on Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, not her favorite restaurant stage, so it was not very interesting. Her boredom translated into her writing.

  • Josephine
    2019-04-28 21:02

    I suppose I’m on a “cooking theme” lately — I have Ruth Reichl’s boringly named “Garlic and Sapphires” lined up after this — with Lauren Shockey’s “Four Kitchens” following not too shortly after Michael Ruhlman’s “The Making of a Chef.”It’s Shockey’s assertion that, in culinary school (in her case, the French Culinary Institute), all you really learn is how to salt food properly, get over your fear of cooking over high heat and knocking back beers like it’s a competitive sport.The “real” culinary education doesn’t begin until you set foot in a restaurant kitchen — and you know, there are two schools of thought on how to become a chef and it seems that there’s a world of difference actually being in the salt mines than practicing in a school kitchen…but that can be said about almost any trade.Journalism school, with its fake newsroom where we created our weekly student paper, was nothing like being in an actual newsroom — and the stuff you learn in the working world is stuff you’d never learn in a classroom. (Namely, how to work with difficult — and sometimes psychotic — people who make infinitely more money than you…whether they deserve it or not.)Fresh out of culinary school, Shockey has a disappointing apprenticeship in a French village where business is astoundingly slow — so, she decides she’s better off taking matters into her own hands and attempt to apprentice in four high-end restaurants around the world.In her home base of New York City, she scores a stage with Wylie Dufresne at his famed restaurant, wd-50, where she’s schooled in the techniques of molecular gastronomy.You know what’s interesting about reading this section? I couldn’t help but get the sense that, in a place like New York, you choose to go into the industry because you have a genuine passion for food — and you kind of have to be a specific type of person in order to make it: highly disciplined.At wd-50, Shockey is surrounded by chefs who are passionate about what they do and they work together like a well-oiled machine through long, hard hours for very little pay.When she moves on to Vietnam to apprentice under French chef, Didier Corlu’s La Verticale, things are slightly more lax — and it becomes apparent that Corlu isn’t as hands-on as Dufresne and that his staff view their jobs as just that: jobs.But it’s in Vietnam that she focuses on flavour rather than technique — and makes fast friends with the Vietnamese staff as she’s encouraged by Corlu to sample as much of the local cuisine as possible.When she heads to Tel Aviv to work in the overly-relaxed kitchen at Daniel Zach’s Carmella Bistro, she’s handed more and more responsibility — which she relishes — but notes an absence in the pursuit for perfection that she found in New York or the focus on flavours as she did in Hanoi.When she returns to Paris, having scored a stage in the two star Senderens restaurant, she’s thrown into a familiar work environment where things are constantly on-the-go and the French live up to their stereotype of being unfriendly snobs.And through it all, she discovers that, maybe she wasn’t cut out for work in a professional kitchen, despite her great love of cooking.I thought this was a great travel/food memoir, but it’s definitely not something I would have rushed out to buy. If you’re looking for fabulous travel/food memoirs to read, I’d recommend “Mediterranean Summer” which really captures the best of what all food lovers enjoy about food, while also calling out to the heartstrings of every ardent traveler.But she also discovered that her real culinary education wouldn’t begin until she actually worked in a restaurant. After a somewhat disappointing apprenticeship in the French provinces, Shockey hatched a plan for her dream year: to apprentice in four high-end restaurants around the world. She started in her hometown of New York City under the famed chef Wylie Dufresne at the molecular gastronomy hotspot wd-50, then traveled to Vietnam, Israel, and back to France. From the ribald kitchen humor to fiery-tempered workers to tasks ranging from the mundane (mincing cases of shallots) to the extraordinary (cooking seafood on the line), Shockey shows us what really happens behind the scenes in haute cuisine, and includes original recipes integrating the techniques and flavors she learned along the way. With the dramatic backdrop of restaurant life, readers will be delighted by the adventures of a bright and restless young woman looking for her place in the world.

  • Kathy
    2019-04-24 01:16

    Quotable:When you host a dinner party, you are, of course, hoping to display your culinary skills and impress others, but the ultimate point of the meal is to eat and share a meal with friends.

  • Asma
    2019-05-18 21:13

    i enjoyed reading this book. i found it informative about food and cultures. Lauren was really brave to make it and prove herself in a male dominated field. her year of being stagiere taught her alot more than what she had learned in culunary school. the only thing that i noticed is that she mentioned briefly about her love life but she never said what happened at the end or why she did not succeed in devolopping long relationships. this left me with some questions. in my opinion it is better if she didn't mention anything about her love life because it does not add anything to the book. i wish if she wrote more about she as a person and gave some insight about her childhood or some stage in her life.i found it interesting to work for free in foreign countries and to pay your own expences just to get some experience. the thing is why did lauren went to culunary institute, then went around the glob in pursute of learning more and at the end she decided to be a home cook and cook for people she loves?i enjoyed the epilogue because she gave some advice to anyone who is interested in being a chef. she came to the conclusion that it is not necessary to go to culunary institutes to be a chief especially those kind of schools are expencive, it is better to get experience first.lauren's first stage was in wd-50 restaurant. it was totally different than typical restaurant. it specialize in molecular gastronomy. it was clear lauren learned some thing but she was not a fan of this new type of food. she said " molecular gastronomy is alot like a party trick: it is exciting the first time you see it, but far less mesmerizing once the initial novelty has worn off."in vietnam lauren worked in a vietnamese restuarant owned by a french man. her idea was that it is good to learn from someone who himself went through the process of learning. because when you are learning you go deep into things and some times your are able to come up with new food that satisfies the client tasting buds. the first thing that stayed with me from lauren's experience in vietnam is making caramel "by cooking water and sugar together until very dark, and then you immediately add cold water so that you have liquid caramel." the second thing which is a little disgusting is eating do meat which the the vietnamese belief it brings luck and prosperity if it is ate in the second half of the lunar month, but if it is ate in the first half it is considered unlucky for this reason many dog mearestuarant food close in the first half.another information i learned from lauren's trip to talaviv is zaatar is a mix of hyssop, sumac, sesame seed, and thyme. of course i learned about the several cultures and food that come togezther in israel which is brought by saphardise and ashkinazi jews. but zaatar was one of the important spices the person has to know specially in that part of the world.

  • Monica Williams
    2019-05-17 18:15

    While the title of the book pretty much sums up the storyline, it's what happens at each of the places that makes the book a great read! Shockey, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute went through a disappointing internship after she graduated. Returning home she decided the only way to know if she wanted to become a chef was to work as one. Chefs can participate in what is called at "stage" basically an unpaid internship with brutal hours and at times mind numbing tasks. If you have a weak stomach, being a chef is not the best career choice for you either. There is a strict hierarchy in the kitchen and you have to earn your place. Shockey starts in her native NYC in the cutting edge kitchen of wd-50 which makes cooking more like chemistry class. The descriptions of kitchen life and culinary prep work are interesting, but Shockey does not hold back about saying how much work it involves and that the work of a "stagiere" (the proper term for one participating in a stage) is grueling. After surviving the kitchen of wd-50, she is off to Vietnam for her next culinary adventure and the on to the other countries on her list. Shockey write well with an engaging tone and she gives voice to her insecurities as well as her triumphs. The action is not just about her cooking either,but includes her friendships both in and out of the kitchen as well her explorations of the country in which she is cooking. It's not a travelogue per say- the cooking is the main focus, but the whole experience is important. My only quibble was the occasional passage where she starts whining about being single. I found it very jarring and think it could have been edited out without any loss to the text. I want to hear more about life in other places and about the food! Shockey's journey while it might not be one I'd want to undertake it made for great reading and she includes some very interesting recipes as well! Well worth the read!

  • Shoshanah
    2019-05-10 00:16

    When I first saw this book I remember being intrigued by seeing Tel Aviv in the title. In general, I'm a fan of cooking memoirs, but that was what won me over. (Also there was the tiny detail that I found it at a Borders closing sale so it was crazy discounted.)After culinary school Shockey decides to stage, or what you could call a restaurant intern, at four restaurants across the world. In her memoir so goes into what it's like working in a fancy kitchen, the differences in them depending on where they're located, and of course all the delicious food she discovers.I was pleasantly surprised to see that while in New York she worked at wd-50 for Wylie Dufresne. Surprisingly, those chapters were some of my favorites. I was intrigued by her time in Vietnam, but never really felt transported there. The parts in Israel that I was so excited for, seemed to go by way to quick and didn't seem to have much substance. The last section in Paris was again interesting, but I never really got a feel for the city.I loved the idea of this book, but overall it fell a little flat for me. Shockey had a great adventure, but never I seemed to understand why she wrote a book. She didn't necessarily seem excited about the adventures she went through and by the end she was kind of over cooking, so I never really got why she wanted to relive those experiences.Despite this, I loved the look into a restaurant kitchen, especially one as famous as wd-50. There were some delicious sounding recipes as well, especially one in the Tel Aviv section for halvah ice cream, that I can't wait to make.3.5/5

  • Brooke Everett
    2019-05-01 00:03

    A quick and breezy read. I love food and cooking, and I love travel, so how could I not like a book about combining the two? Her description of Tel Aviv really made me want to check it out (add it to my never-ending travel wish list!).On wd~50: "It's true that not everything is delicious at wd~50, but I don't think that's the restaurant's sole purpose. Wylie pushes boundaries and intellectualizes the meal; his cuisine engenders a timely discourse about food and restaurants." p. 94-95On the chef/owner of wd~50, Wylie Dufresne: "He was just a dude who cooked for a living. A highly talented dude, of course, but still an average dude." p. 100 (Aren't we all? I always used to say something similar about my chef when people started tripping over themselves to meet him.)On Hanoi: "Food wove a spell over me in Vietnam, and as Didier had promised, the most important foods wren't in restaurants; they were in storefronts with unsteady plastic tables and child-sized blue stools spilling out onto the streets and where bowls of steaming soup were ladled out of waist-high metal stockpots." p. 151 (YES. I want to go to there. I generally prefer that sort of food vibe over a bunch of fancy pantalones stuff.)On Paris: "In London as well as in New York, the restaurant scene is dominated by the newest, trendiest places to see and be seen. But in Paris, a city that embraces tradition and is slower to change, restaurants are still places to eat and enjoy food, not acquire cultural capital." p. 276 (I adore the term "cultural capital." I'm totally adopting it.)

  • Luna Raven
    2019-04-25 00:56

    I really want to give this 3 1/2 stars, most especially for the delicious recipes. A good read with an interesting revelation for me: this woman traveled many miles to have a similar experience to many other women who work in kitchens, so the problems that exist really are industry wide.My personal favorite portions of the book took place Hanoi and Tel Aviv. You could feel what the author was talking about as though you were there with her as she experienced two very diverse cultures from her own. I plan to make quite a few of the recipes from these two sections! I will say that if you are at all squeamish you might want to avoid the part where they visit a restaurant that serves dog. I had to skim that part, it was really rather unnerving.Interestingly, there was a sense that even though the author grew as a chef that there was some disconnect on an emotional growth level. Her awkwardness with men feels a bit odd to me, not saying it's unreal so much as her age doesn't fit that feeling for me. There are one or two situations it felt like she should have seen coming. I do love her honesty in talking about the rampant sexism that exists for women in the kitchen and how her NY colleagues were good about bearing that in mind as not all of the chefs one might work with do. I also admire that she is very honest about loving to cook but no longer wanting to cook in restaurants. All in all I found this an enjoyable read, really worth it for the recipes alone!

  • Shannon
    2019-05-04 19:11

    Very enjoyable book about a culinary journey around the world. The autheor spent time in four countries learning to cook their cousine and trying to learn as much as she could about herself as a chef and the culture behind the food - a fascinating look at the author's personal journey and the intersting things (and people) that go on behind the scenes in restaurant kitchens. This was my first exposure to the concept of moleculor gastronomy, which I found quite interesting (and I must admit, a little scary). The section i nVietnam was probably my favorite, which surprised me, as I have not historically been drawn to Asian cusine, but her stories abotu the people, the food, and the places she saw made me want to visit that country and experience it for myself. The ultimate conclusion for this autheor was that her passion lay i nthe cooking process itself, and her own creativity, and the opportunity to share food with loved ones and friends. This untilmately started as a Chef learning about cooking, and ended as a cook finding the reason for her passion. Initally I was disappointed that after all of that, she was not going to work in a kitchen, but after more thought, I find it much wiser that she ultimatly chose to allow cooking to be a shared passion in her life rather than to become a mundance and repetitive action she would dread doing on a daily basis in a tradtional Chef capacity.

  • Janie
    2019-05-19 22:04

    Shockey, Lauren. Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris. Grand Central. Jul. 2011. c.352p. ISBN 9780446559874. $24.99. COOKINGShockey, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and a food writer for the Village Voice and other publications, has penned a memoir of her time working as an unpaid kitchen apprentice in four different countries. Even with college credentials, she quickly learns that real-life experience is an entirely different type of education. Despite meeting fascinating people, she finds that working in a restaurant is often hours of tedious chores, regardless of the establishment’s reputation or cuisine. Also intriguing are her adventures exploring her surroundings, as she samples the native fare at out-of-the-way eateries that residents frequent. Most of these tales are pleasurable, an almost vicarious feast for the reader, but a few are a bit unsettling, such as Shockey’s resolution to eat dog in Vietnam. VERDICT This interesting blend of history, culture, cooking, and travel is highly recommended for any lover of literary travel writing. Those who enjoy cooking will learn through her experiences and be inspired to try Shockey’s kitchen-friendly recipes featuring the spices and flavors she discovers along the way. [See Prepub Alert, 1/10/11.]—Jane Hebert, Orange Cty. Lib. Syst., Orlando, FL

  • Annita
    2019-05-17 00:15

    Shockey's book is only disappointing in that she didn't have time to go to more "stages". She does a great job of sharing the unique restaurant menus and personalities. She has the advantage of apparently unlimited parental support for her quest and maybe unlimited funds? Her book takes the reader inside kitchens in restaurants without the Disney Ratatouille version involving rats. There is a clear inclusion of clean work areas, clean vegetables and clean restaurants. Shockey's best contribution to budding chefs everywhere (and we know who you are; you are the ones watching competitive cooking on tv) is her brutal honestly about the many duties in a kitchen and the lack of ability for one person to be the ONLY chef in a top restaurant; she shares the task breakdown very well. There are some great recipes included in this book complete with the lay person's description and brutal honesty about pretentious cooking. Sadly...spoiler alert... i read this book at the same time as I read Beaten, Seared, and Sauced (notice the comma placement after Seared and commiserate on my displeasure) by Jonathan Dixon and both authors, after completing culinary training and completing internships in a variety of restaurants, decide NOT to cook professionally in a restaurant kitchen.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-14 19:08

    Four Kitchens follows Lauren Shockey as she apprentices in four well-known restaurants in four countries around the world. After going to culinary school at the French Culinary Institute, Lauren knows her real world culinary education will start once she's working in a restaurant. She works at wd-50 in New York City, La Verticale in Hanoi, Vietnam, Carmella Bistro in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Senderens in Paris, France. Each restaurant is vastly different from each other and Lauren learns something from each experience. But, the biggest lesson she learns is that she does not want to be a restaurant chef. She enjoys cooking for friends and family at home much more. Her advice to anyone thinking about being a chef is to apprentice at a restaurant BEFORE going to culinary school to make sure it's something you really want before making that kind of financial investment in school. There are also recipes at the end of each chapter, but in my opinion they seem pretty difficult for the average home cook. The book was a very quick read and I did enjoy it, but it just wasn't great in my opinion.

  • Stephen
    2019-05-20 18:20

    Whether Gilgamesh king of Uruk, or Marco Polo or William Least Heat-Moon, tales of travel and far-off adventure have intrigued readers for millennia. A now well-established sub-genre of travel writing is the first-person culinary report of culinary adventures in distant places. Anthony Bourdain wrote what may be the ne plus ultra of the category in "A Cook's Tour" (2001). While Lauren Shockey's book describes her adventures as a stagiaire (unpaid low-level cook in a restaurant) in restaurant kitchens in New York City, Vietnam, Israel and France, it is no "Cook's Tour." Books such as this often include, within the search for adventure in new places, a search for meaning in the writer's own life. There is an element of that in this story but it is as shallow as the sauce nape under a magret de canard. Each of the four sections concludes with recipes from the locale just described. All of them are interesting, especially the highly-improbable one for tart dough made with boiling butter into which sweetened flour is dumped. This recipe might be worth the price of the book.