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The Kitchen: A Delicious Account of the Author's Years as a Grand Hotel Cook

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NICOLAS FREELING is known for producing some of the finest modern crime fiction. He began his working life as an apprentice cook in a large French hotel, and continued cooking professionally for many years. A fine writer who ranks right along with Simenon, the Minneapolis Tribune says of him, and he is the creator of that superb policeman Inspector Van der Valk. But just be NICOLAS FREELING is known for producing some of the finest modern crime fiction. He began his working life as an apprentice cook in a large French hotel, and continued cooking professionally for many years. A fine writer who ranks right along with Simenon, the Minneapolis Tribune says of him, and he is the creator of that superb policeman Inspector Van der Valk. But just before Nicolas Freeling decided to be a writer, he was a cook in many of the great hotels of Europe. This is a kitchen book. It is a book about Nicolas Freeling in the kitchen. It is a book about his papa in the kitchen. It is a book about the dull and sickening smells of burned fat and boiling stock, and the pungent odor of freshly strewn sawdust. It is a book about the view from the kitchen window of the Restaurant Lapérouse in Paris, and about Fred Roblin of Annecy. larder chef (and one of the nicest men Freeling ever met) whose passion was boxing. It is about how to handle a knife when you are carving a side of beef (and how to get all the meat off the bones); it is about a sour and sullen roast cook named Louis (roast cooks are generally nasty people); it is about carving a block of salt into the likeness of two pigeons drinking out of a birdbath, and about how to make hors d'oeuvres out of leftovers. It is about the Hotel Atlantic in Belleplage, a really splendid example of Grand Hotel Thermes et Bains de Mer-where the staff quarters were seven stories up under the slates of the roof, with two hundred staff in each wing (men east, women west) and room above the central block for two hundred more-the maids, the valets, and chauffeurs brought by the guests. This is a book about the very strange people who live in hotels, such as the Countess Dracula, and the very rich people who visit hotels, and the people who run hotels. And especially the kitchens of hotels. All fascinating-all observed with Freeling's knowledgeable eyes, and reported on with his magnificently trenchant and skillful pen.


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NICOLAS FREELING is known for producing some of the finest modern crime fiction. He began his working life as an apprentice cook in a large French hotel, and continued cooking professionally for many years. A fine writer who ranks right along with Simenon, the Minneapolis Tribune says of him, and he is the creator of that superb policeman Inspector Van der Valk. But just be NICOLAS FREELING is known for producing some of the finest modern crime fiction. He began his working life as an apprentice cook in a large French hotel, and continued cooking professionally for many years. A fine writer who ranks right along with Simenon, the Minneapolis Tribune says of him, and he is the creator of that superb policeman Inspector Van der Valk. But just before Nicolas Freeling decided to be a writer, he was a cook in many of the great hotels of Europe. This is a kitchen book. It is a book about Nicolas Freeling in the kitchen. It is a book about his papa in the kitchen. It is a book about the dull and sickening smells of burned fat and boiling stock, and the pungent odor of freshly strewn sawdust. It is a book about the view from the kitchen window of the Restaurant Lapérouse in Paris, and about Fred Roblin of Annecy. larder chef (and one of the nicest men Freeling ever met) whose passion was boxing. It is about how to handle a knife when you are carving a side of beef (and how to get all the meat off the bones); it is about a sour and sullen roast cook named Louis (roast cooks are generally nasty people); it is about carving a block of salt into the likeness of two pigeons drinking out of a birdbath, and about how to make hors d'oeuvres out of leftovers. It is about the Hotel Atlantic in Belleplage, a really splendid example of Grand Hotel Thermes et Bains de Mer-where the staff quarters were seven stories up under the slates of the roof, with two hundred staff in each wing (men east, women west) and room above the central block for two hundred more-the maids, the valets, and chauffeurs brought by the guests. This is a book about the very strange people who live in hotels, such as the Countess Dracula, and the very rich people who visit hotels, and the people who run hotels. And especially the kitchens of hotels. All fascinating-all observed with Freeling's knowledgeable eyes, and reported on with his magnificently trenchant and skillful pen.

34 review for The Kitchen: A Delicious Account of the Author's Years as a Grand Hotel Cook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz Pruski

    Nicolas Freeling's "The Kitchen: A Delicious Account of the Author's Years as a Grand Hotel Cook" seems a strange book to read in the times when Big Mac, chicken nuggets, and peanut butter and jelly sandwich are considered edible food. Nicolas Freeling, the great European mystery author with some 30 novels to his credit, writes about his 15 years as a cook in hotels in France and England. These were the times and places where food was taken seriously. He begins as a lowly help in a Michelin-starr Nicolas Freeling's "The Kitchen: A Delicious Account of the Author's Years as a Grand Hotel Cook" seems a strange book to read in the times when Big Mac, chicken nuggets, and peanut butter and jelly sandwich are considered edible food. Nicolas Freeling, the great European mystery author with some 30 novels to his credit, writes about his 15 years as a cook in hotels in France and England. These were the times and places where food was taken seriously. He begins as a lowly help in a Michelin-starred hotel, then moves to the Hotel des Pyramides in Paris, to finally work as a second sauce cook in a Normandy coast hotel. In 1954 he moves to his native England and works in a series of hotels in the English countryside. "The Kitchen" is a charming little book about what it means to be a cook. About the smells in the kitchen, about the sound of chopping vegetables, about reusing every little leftover scrap, and about techniques of holding a knife. But mainly it is a book about people; Mr. Freeling paints vivid portraits of cooks who were his teachers and his co-workers: Fred, the larder chef, Monsieur Bonvalet the "Dad" in the seaside hotel, and the Matron, in England. It is also a very funny book; characterizations of eating and living habits of hotel guests are hilarious, the incident with a trout escaping from a display tank is pure slapstick, and I love "sabir, the international language" that was developed because cooks hailing from different countries needed to communicate with each other. Mr. Freeling explains why giving exact amounts and exact processing times in recipes does not make sense: no two seemingly identical ingredients are ever the same and no two frying pans ever conduct heat in the same way. The book also provides a bigger lesson that transcends the culinary trade: one cannot learn a complicated craft out of a book; without years of hard work gaining experience, one would always remain an amateur. A good and very pleasant read. Three and a half stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Thomsssen

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    (Mentioned in Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential) (Mentioned in Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lela

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tawnya Fugate

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hali Porchetta

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christos

  11. 5 out of 5

    Randall Pink Floyd

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Bastos

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  15. 4 out of 5

    ZM

  16. 4 out of 5

    Keira

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tiana Arruda

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shanna

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gavin Esdale

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rodney

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mariah

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dave Newman

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

  26. 5 out of 5

    Johna Schneider

  27. 5 out of 5

    Iris

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey W.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Guy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jason Reed

  31. 5 out of 5

    Bingle

  32. 4 out of 5

    Andreea Filip

  33. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  34. 5 out of 5

    Francis Forster

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