I don’t know too many foodies who haven’t read at least a portion of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential to get an inside look at the goings on in professional kitchens. Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trials By Fire gives a similar kind of look into a different type of culinary environment.
Author Dalia Jurgensen recounts her own story of becoming a pastry chef, starting with the day that she decided to put in her two weeks notice at her regular job and enroll in culinary school. Her first restaurant job was at Nobu working as a pastry person, and from there she moved around New York City on a quest to become not just a pastry chef – but a good pastry chef.
While the “insider’s look” from the cook’s perspective is becoming pretty common, it’s not too often that we get to see the pastry perspective of things. The production is still intense, and the need for perfection (or something close to it) even moreso. The book is well written and fun to read, with great little stories of characters that Jurgensen met and became friends with along the way. Even so, it still manages to convey some of the intensity of working in the field, as well as the passionate enthusiasm that Jurgensen, like so many others, has for it.
The book doesn’t include any recipes, but it still made me want to cook. I’ll stick to the safety of my own kitchen for now, though, rather than jumping in head first like the author did.