For those of you who, like me, often dream of swapping a desk job for a pastry station, Dalia Jurgensen’s Spiced is a revelation. Literally. Who knew the waters of kitchen politics would be as difficult to navigate as those of the typical office?
While Jurgensen begins her journey, intending to become a chef, her experiences lead her to ultimately choose pastry. The mainly male-oriented profession leads to some predictable, testosterone-driven antics, and the restaurant hierarchy seems, at times, genuinely medieval. But the author’s passion for food shines, as does her occasionally unflattering honesty.
Jurgensen’s hopscotching through disparate jobs for famed and failed restaurants in a lengthy, resume-building tour of New York City hotspots proves an interesting read, whether or not you have a culinary career in mind. From working the pastry station at Nobu to freelancing as a recipe developer for Martha Stewart, Jurgensen shares industry insight and a few dirty secrets along the way.
And if at the end of the book, you’re still itching to cook, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits and What Really Goes On in the Kitchen
Penguin Books, Hardcover, April 2009
$4.48 (bargain price)