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Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

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Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Cover

ISBN13: 9781400068722
ISBN10: 140006872x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Hamilton is the chef-owner of acclaimed NYC restaurant Prune. Her memoir is compelling, harrowing, beautifully written, and utterly charming, whether she's invoking memories of fields of fireflies or gritty kitchen realities. Anthony Bourdain loves this book, and I think it's magical.
Recommended by Kathi, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

I wanted the lettuce and eggs at room temperature...the butter-and-sugar sandwiches we ate after school for snack...the marrow bones my mother made us eat as kids that I grew to crave as an adult....There would be no "conceptual" or "intellectual" food, just the salty, sweet, starchy, brothy, crispy things that one craves when one is actually hungry. In ecstatic farewell to my years of corporate catering, we would never serve anything but a martini in a martini glass. Preferably gin.

Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty fierce, hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Above all she sought family, particularly the thrill and the magnificence of the one from her childhood that, in her adult years, eluded her. Hamilton's ease and comfort in a kitchen were instilled in her at an early age when her parents hosted grand parties, often for more than one hundred friends and neighbors. The smells of spit-roasted lamb, apple wood smoke, and rosemary garlic marinade became as necessary to her as her own skin.

Blood, Bones and Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; the soulless catering factories that helped pay the rent; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton's idyllic past and her own future family — the result of a difficult and prickly marriage that nonetheless yields rich and lasting dividends.

Blood, Bones and Butter is an unflinching and lyrical work. Gabrielle Hamilton's story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion. By turns epic and intimate, it marks the debut of a tremendous literary talent.

Review:

"Owner and chef of New York's Prune restaurant, Hamilton also happens to be a trained writer (M.F.A., University of Michigan) and fashions an addictive memoir of her unorthodox trajectory to becoming a chef. The youngest of five siblings born to a French mother who cooked 'tails, claws, and marrow-filled bones' in a good skirt, high heels, and apron, and an artist father who made the sets for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Hamilton spent her early years in a vast old house on the rural Pennsylvania — New Jersey border. With the divorce of her parents when she was an adolescent, the author was largely left to her own devices, working at odd jobs in restaurants. Peeling potatoes and scraping plates — 'And that, just like that, is how a whole life can start.' At age 16, in 1981, she got a job waiting tables at New York's Lone Star Cafe, and when caught stealing another waitress's check, she was nearly charged with grand larceny. After years of working as a 'grunt' freelance caterer and going back to school to learn to write (inspired by a National Book Foundation conference she was catering), Hamilton unexpectedly started up her no-nonsense, comfort-food Prune in a charming space in the East Village in 1999. Hamilton can be refreshingly thorny (especially when it comes to her reluctance to embrace the 'foodie' world), yet she is also as frank and unpretentious as her menu — and speaks openly about marrying an Italian man (despite being a lesbian), mostly to cook with his priceless Old World mother in Italy. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"Gabrielle Hamilton has changed the potential and raised the bar for all books about eating and cooking. Her nearly rabid love for all real food experience and her completely vulnerable, unprotected yet pure point of view unveils itself in both truth and inspiration. I will read this book to my children and then burn all the books I have written for pretending to be anything even close to this. After that I will apply for the dishwasher job at Prune to learn from my new queen." Mario Batali

Review:

"I have long considered Gabrielle Hamilton a writer in cook’s clothing, and this deliciously complex and intriguing memoir proves the point. Her candor, courage, and craft make for a wonderful read but, even more, for an appreciation of her talent and dedication, which have resulted from her often trying but inspiring experiences. Her writing is every bit as delectable and satisfying as her food." Mimi Sheraton, food critic and author of The German Cookbook and Eating My Words

Review:

"[A] lusty, rollicking, engaging-from-page-one memoir of the chef-owner of Prune restaurant in New York's East Village. Hamilton opened her eating establishment without any prior experience in cheffing, but the life experiences she did have before that bold move, told here in honest detail, obviously made up for any deficiencies in heading up a restaurant and also provide material for an electric story that is interesting even if the author hadn’t become the chef-owner of a successful restaurant. An idyllic childhood turned sour when her parents divorced; her adolescence and young womanhood encompassed drugs, menial jobs, and lack of direction and initiative when it came to continued education. All's well that ends well, however, and her story does indeed do that. Add this to the shelf of chef memoirs but also recommend it to readers with a penchant for forthright, well-written memoirs in general." Booklist

About the Author

Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef/owner of Prune restaurant in New York's East Village. She received an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food & Wine. Hamilton has also authored the 8-week Chef Column in The New York Times, and her work has been anthologized in six volumes of Best Food Writing. She has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and the Food Network, among other television. She lives in Manhattan with her two sons.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 11 comments:

crau, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by crau)
Gabrielle Hamilton's food is some of the best I've ever eaten- rich, savory, elemental, and full of frankness and unabashed affection for ingredients. Blood, Bones and Butter conveys this same unflinching attention to Hamilton's own life, as so often happens in her cooking, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts- beautiful and rich in all its sometimes messy, raw, ugliness.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
nrghealer, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by nrghealer)
There is quite a lot of buzz about this book and make no mistake....it is warranted. This is Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir of growing up in a family where food was an important part of her life; her French mother visited farms in her heels with her hair done up in a chignon and she used every part of the animal to feed her family of seven. Hamilton recalls leaning into her mother every evening after dinner as she and Hamilton's father talked. The description of the spring lamb roasts is luscious, disturbing and evocative of food as community, of family expanded.

I liked most everything about this book. I devoured it as if I had been starved of a read this rich and filling for months, as if I had been on a diet of pap. As I gobbled up page after page, not pausing to breathe, I took in the images - sights, sounds, tastes and smells - of her adventures and misadventures in growing from the abandoned and puzzled pre-teen into the highly respected chef and owner of Prune, her restaurant in the East Village. (Guess where my next meal destination in New York will be!)

Hamilton is determined to create her own family and the way she knows to do this is through food. It's a little heartbreaking that she is unable to fully accomplish this. She is left yearning, on the outside, with mere crumbs.

This book will leave you satisfied as if after a wonderful meal, but wanting just a bit more, just another wee taste.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Mindy Morton, September 28, 2011 (view all comments by Mindy Morton)
Talk about taste-a-vision... Arguably one of the most articulate memoirs I've ever read. Gabrielle took my mind on a brief vacation with every page I turned and I learned that she put to words so many of my feelings about food and the table and the value of that in life. Reading this book caused me to change the dining room table from a "study" desk to a place where we eat dinner together again. LOVE. It's not often that a book actually transforms how I live my daily routine and I hope she finds a niche to keep sharing her adventures.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 11 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400068722
Author:
Hamilton, Gabrielle
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Restaurateurs - New York (State) - New York
Subject:
Hamilton, Gabrielle
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
General
Subject:
Biography-Cooking
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20110331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9.54 x 6.33 x .97 in 1.2 lb

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Related Subjects


Biography » Cooking
Biography » General
Biography » Women
Cooking and Food » Food Writing » Gastronomic Literature
Cooking and Food » Food Writing » General
Cooking and Food » General
Featured Titles » Literature

Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Random House - English 9781400068722 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Hamilton is the chef-owner of acclaimed NYC restaurant Prune. Her memoir is compelling, harrowing, beautifully written, and utterly charming, whether she's invoking memories of fields of fireflies or gritty kitchen realities. Anthony Bourdain loves this book, and I think it's magical.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Owner and chef of New York's Prune restaurant, Hamilton also happens to be a trained writer (M.F.A., University of Michigan) and fashions an addictive memoir of her unorthodox trajectory to becoming a chef. The youngest of five siblings born to a French mother who cooked 'tails, claws, and marrow-filled bones' in a good skirt, high heels, and apron, and an artist father who made the sets for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Hamilton spent her early years in a vast old house on the rural Pennsylvania — New Jersey border. With the divorce of her parents when she was an adolescent, the author was largely left to her own devices, working at odd jobs in restaurants. Peeling potatoes and scraping plates — 'And that, just like that, is how a whole life can start.' At age 16, in 1981, she got a job waiting tables at New York's Lone Star Cafe, and when caught stealing another waitress's check, she was nearly charged with grand larceny. After years of working as a 'grunt' freelance caterer and going back to school to learn to write (inspired by a National Book Foundation conference she was catering), Hamilton unexpectedly started up her no-nonsense, comfort-food Prune in a charming space in the East Village in 1999. Hamilton can be refreshingly thorny (especially when it comes to her reluctance to embrace the 'foodie' world), yet she is also as frank and unpretentious as her menu — and speaks openly about marrying an Italian man (despite being a lesbian), mostly to cook with his priceless Old World mother in Italy. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , "Gabrielle Hamilton has changed the potential and raised the bar for all books about eating and cooking. Her nearly rabid love for all real food experience and her completely vulnerable, unprotected yet pure point of view unveils itself in both truth and inspiration. I will read this book to my children and then burn all the books I have written for pretending to be anything even close to this. After that I will apply for the dishwasher job at Prune to learn from my new queen."
"Review" by , "I have long considered Gabrielle Hamilton a writer in cook’s clothing, and this deliciously complex and intriguing memoir proves the point. Her candor, courage, and craft make for a wonderful read but, even more, for an appreciation of her talent and dedication, which have resulted from her often trying but inspiring experiences. Her writing is every bit as delectable and satisfying as her food."
"Review" by , "[A] lusty, rollicking, engaging-from-page-one memoir of the chef-owner of Prune restaurant in New York's East Village. Hamilton opened her eating establishment without any prior experience in cheffing, but the life experiences she did have before that bold move, told here in honest detail, obviously made up for any deficiencies in heading up a restaurant and also provide material for an electric story that is interesting even if the author hadn’t become the chef-owner of a successful restaurant. An idyllic childhood turned sour when her parents divorced; her adolescence and young womanhood encompassed drugs, menial jobs, and lack of direction and initiative when it came to continued education. All's well that ends well, however, and her story does indeed do that. Add this to the shelf of chef memoirs but also recommend it to readers with a penchant for forthright, well-written memoirs in general."
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