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Chefs, Drugs and Rock Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New American Profession

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An all-access history of the evolution of the American restaurant chef Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll transports readers back in time to witness the remarkable evolution of the American restaurant chef in the 1970s and '80s. Taking a rare, coast-to-coast perspective, Andrew Friedman goes inside Chez Panisse and other Bay Area restaurants to show how the politically charged ba An all-access history of the evolution of the American restaurant chef Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll transports readers back in time to witness the remarkable evolution of the American restaurant chef in the 1970s and '80s. Taking a rare, coast-to-coast perspective, Andrew Friedman goes inside Chez Panisse and other Bay Area restaurants to show how the politically charged backdrop of Berkeley helped draw new talent to the profession; into the historically underrated community of Los Angeles chefs, including a young Wolfgang Puck and future stars such as Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, and Nancy Silverton; and into the clash of cultures between established French chefs in New York City and the American game changers behind The Quilted Giraffe, The River Cafe, and other East Coast establishments. We also meet young cooks of the time such as Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse who went on to become household names in their own right. Along the way, the chefs, their struggles, their cliques, and, of course, their restaurants are brought to life in vivid detail. As the '80's unspool, we see the profession evolve as American masters like Thomas Keller rise, and watch the genesis of a “chef nation” as these culinary pioneers crisscross the country to open restaurants and collaborate on special events, and legendary hangouts like Blue Ribbon become social focal points, all as the industry-altering Food Network shimmers on the horizon. Told largely in the words of the people who lived it, as captured in more than two hundred author interviews with writers like Ruch Reichl and legends like Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters, Jonathan Waxman, and Barry Wine, Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll treats readers to an unparalleled 360-degree re-creation of the business and the times through the perspectives not only of the groundbreaking chefs but also of line cooks, front-of-house personnel, investors, and critics who had front-row seats to this extraordinary transformation.


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An all-access history of the evolution of the American restaurant chef Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll transports readers back in time to witness the remarkable evolution of the American restaurant chef in the 1970s and '80s. Taking a rare, coast-to-coast perspective, Andrew Friedman goes inside Chez Panisse and other Bay Area restaurants to show how the politically charged ba An all-access history of the evolution of the American restaurant chef Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll transports readers back in time to witness the remarkable evolution of the American restaurant chef in the 1970s and '80s. Taking a rare, coast-to-coast perspective, Andrew Friedman goes inside Chez Panisse and other Bay Area restaurants to show how the politically charged backdrop of Berkeley helped draw new talent to the profession; into the historically underrated community of Los Angeles chefs, including a young Wolfgang Puck and future stars such as Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, and Nancy Silverton; and into the clash of cultures between established French chefs in New York City and the American game changers behind The Quilted Giraffe, The River Cafe, and other East Coast establishments. We also meet young cooks of the time such as Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse who went on to become household names in their own right. Along the way, the chefs, their struggles, their cliques, and, of course, their restaurants are brought to life in vivid detail. As the '80's unspool, we see the profession evolve as American masters like Thomas Keller rise, and watch the genesis of a “chef nation” as these culinary pioneers crisscross the country to open restaurants and collaborate on special events, and legendary hangouts like Blue Ribbon become social focal points, all as the industry-altering Food Network shimmers on the horizon. Told largely in the words of the people who lived it, as captured in more than two hundred author interviews with writers like Ruch Reichl and legends like Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters, Jonathan Waxman, and Barry Wine, Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll treats readers to an unparalleled 360-degree re-creation of the business and the times through the perspectives not only of the groundbreaking chefs but also of line cooks, front-of-house personnel, investors, and critics who had front-row seats to this extraordinary transformation.

30 review for Chefs, Drugs and Rock Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New American Profession

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gina *loves sunshine*

    The very first person to review this book - really? wow - that's a first! Let's get to the meat of this (haha - pun intended) Overall, this book was good. That's why I gave it 3 stars. I wish I could gush about how the whole journey of the story was awesome.....BUT, what this book had that I LOVED - a very good insight into how the restaurant foodie world was built starting back in the 70's and 80's. The stories of the first renowned chefs and restaurants - fantastic - loved it! You can also see The very first person to review this book - really? wow - that's a first! Let's get to the meat of this (haha - pun intended) Overall, this book was good. That's why I gave it 3 stars. I wish I could gush about how the whole journey of the story was awesome.....BUT, what this book had that I LOVED - a very good insight into how the restaurant foodie world was built starting back in the 70's and 80's. The stories of the first renowned chefs and restaurants - fantastic - loved it! You can also see the journey of Pub's(public eateries back in the early century) to diners, to places that will just feed the pie hole, to Denny's, to restaurants that really care about ingredients and quality food. Places that use those ingredients to create wonderful meals - those are all the stories I love and crave!! I am glad to be reminded again that we have come full circle in the ways of providing fresh food and not get lost in the land of pre-made sauces, byproducts and franchised soup from a can. The part that brings it down overall was the flow. It jumps around a lot in thought and content. I didn't feel like it had a cut and dry story or single character to follow. It's hard to forge a connection. For me, I am familiar with the Chef's talked about - I have lived and eaten in the areas that provide some of the best restaurants - namely in this book, San Francisco and Los Angeles. So that maintained a level of interest for me. Even so it felt disjointed....which at times made the mind wander and hard to pick up once I put it down. If you love foodie things, if you are interested in what we now call - eat local, fresh, farm to table, blah blah, blah - this is a story of some of those players that started it long ago and those that paved the way to today and why we need to come back to real food.

  2. 5 out of 5

    June Miller Richards

    Content of the book was great! I lived through this time period, worked on culinary promotions and have met a number of the chefs featured in the book, so it was fun to get behind-the-scenes stories. BUT: I listened to the audiobook and the narrator unfortunately mispronounced more than a few chefs' names. I'm surprised that the publisher and author approved this. That was a disappointment that knocked a star off my rating. Content of the book was great! I lived through this time period, worked on culinary promotions and have met a number of the chefs featured in the book, so it was fun to get behind-the-scenes stories. BUT: I listened to the audiobook and the narrator unfortunately mispronounced more than a few chefs' names. I'm surprised that the publisher and author approved this. That was a disappointment that knocked a star off my rating.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    The in-depth history of how the profession of chef went from "behind the scenes" to "into spotlight" as the chaotic, riotous world of modern restaurant culture came to be. There were a lot of familiar names here, and I was particularly amused by the Tom Colicchio's story as well as that of Jonathan Waxman, both of whom I've enjoyed on Top Chef and other cooking shows. I was surprised at the glancing mention of Anthony Bourdain, as he seemed to embody the title so well, but maybe he didn't agree The in-depth history of how the profession of chef went from "behind the scenes" to "into spotlight" as the chaotic, riotous world of modern restaurant culture came to be. There were a lot of familiar names here, and I was particularly amused by the Tom Colicchio's story as well as that of Jonathan Waxman, both of whom I've enjoyed on Top Chef and other cooking shows. I was surprised at the glancing mention of Anthony Bourdain, as he seemed to embody the title so well, but maybe he didn't agree to be interviewed. Much attention to Jeremiah Towers and Alice Waters, but there were others I have never heard of who played large roles. It was fun to read of places I've been and what went on behind the swinging door to the kitchen.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Goatboy

    Pick this up if you have any interest in food culture or chef/restaurant history. Immensely enjoyable oral and written history of Nouvelle American Cuisine. As any history, it may be biased or slanted a bit in how it tells its stories, but it's certainly a worthy ingredient in the overall mapping out of how chefs in America took French inspiration and techniques and made something wholly American. If I ever gain access to a time machine back to the 80s and 90s, this book will be my travel guide Pick this up if you have any interest in food culture or chef/restaurant history. Immensely enjoyable oral and written history of Nouvelle American Cuisine. As any history, it may be biased or slanted a bit in how it tells its stories, but it's certainly a worthy ingredient in the overall mapping out of how chefs in America took French inspiration and techniques and made something wholly American. If I ever gain access to a time machine back to the 80s and 90s, this book will be my travel guide as to where to eat.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    This book is too long. It is impressive how much research Mr. Friedman did for this book, but I don't think he needed to include it all in the book. It also is disjointed. He jumps around from one coast to the other, from one chef to another and it is very easy to get lost. Interest in the culinary profession has definitely risen in the last decades, so it would seem that this book would fill a gap. However, there is so much detail in this book that at times it read like a history text. Also, he This book is too long. It is impressive how much research Mr. Friedman did for this book, but I don't think he needed to include it all in the book. It also is disjointed. He jumps around from one coast to the other, from one chef to another and it is very easy to get lost. Interest in the culinary profession has definitely risen in the last decades, so it would seem that this book would fill a gap. However, there is so much detail in this book that at times it read like a history text. Also, he focuses so intently on New York, and to a lesser extent, California, that the book totally ignores that there was groundbreaking culinary achievements in other places in the country. I knew nothing of this book when I picked it up in the library, I almost stopped reading it on several occasions and I really can't decide if I should have even picked it up.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christa Van

    An interesting history of the American restaurant and cooking scene mostly from the 1970's and 80's. Friedman did a LOT of interviews and uncovered the ideas behind "American" cooking as it intersected with classical French cuisine and the fresher ideas of people who wanted food prepared in a more simple manner and ingredients that were fresh and maybe locally sourced. This is, perhaps, too much of a simplification but lots of people were breaking out of old molds and trying new things. Many wit An interesting history of the American restaurant and cooking scene mostly from the 1970's and 80's. Friedman did a LOT of interviews and uncovered the ideas behind "American" cooking as it intersected with classical French cuisine and the fresher ideas of people who wanted food prepared in a more simple manner and ingredients that were fresh and maybe locally sourced. This is, perhaps, too much of a simplification but lots of people were breaking out of old molds and trying new things. Many with great success, at least for a time. Being a great chef and having a dedicated following doesn't always translate into financial success. The business aspects aren't always strong in many whose talents focus on the creative aspects. Don't look for recipes here, this is about the people behind the movement.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Helene

    This was a birthday gift from a friend who has given me interesting nonfiction in the past, so I had to read and finish it. It tells the personal stories of chefs in America, primarily on both coasts, and the rise of "American" cuisine when French cuisine was the only one internationally valued. Though it did not more than mention it, it was also about the rise of other ethnic cuisine. So I guess, about expanding the food palate. The individual stories were very interesting, especially of those ch This was a birthday gift from a friend who has given me interesting nonfiction in the past, so I had to read and finish it. It tells the personal stories of chefs in America, primarily on both coasts, and the rise of "American" cuisine when French cuisine was the only one internationally valued. Though it did not more than mention it, it was also about the rise of other ethnic cuisine. So I guess, about expanding the food palate. The individual stories were very interesting, especially of those chefs I had heard of, from Alice Waters to Bobby Flay. The book is too long and the author could have made it more compelling with some editing. He takes two pages to say what could have been said in two paragraphs. But I did finish, despite the length. It's not really my type of book. I'm expanding my repetoire!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ty

    I did this book as an audio book, and I think it actually improved the experience. Much of the text is quoted from the players who built up the new American cuisine scene from the 70's through the early 2000's. The author completed countless interviews with the great and famous chefs, like Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, etc. We even get to see cameos from the Iron Chefs of today, like Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. I cannot express how much I enjoyed the stories of how I did this book as an audio book, and I think it actually improved the experience. Much of the text is quoted from the players who built up the new American cuisine scene from the 70's through the early 2000's. The author completed countless interviews with the great and famous chefs, like Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, etc. We even get to see cameos from the Iron Chefs of today, like Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. I cannot express how much I enjoyed the stories of how crazy it was (and is) to start and run a restaurant. It is also fascinating just how wild these folks were, and likely still are. It is no small miracle that so many of them survived to this day. Highly recommended for foodies!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill Saltarelli

    Last year I was walking out of a restaurant with my family by Central Park and Jonathan Waxman was in front of me. I was star struck and blurted out Jonathan Waxman! He shook my hand and smiled, just a California chill guy. This book was an interesting read, it explains the rise of the American chefs and how they pushed back the older French, classically trained chefs. If your interested in how the current tide of great chefs made their bones, this is the book to read. A small mention of Anthony Last year I was walking out of a restaurant with my family by Central Park and Jonathan Waxman was in front of me. I was star struck and blurted out Jonathan Waxman! He shook my hand and smiled, just a California chill guy. This book was an interesting read, it explains the rise of the American chefs and how they pushed back the older French, classically trained chefs. If your interested in how the current tide of great chefs made their bones, this is the book to read. A small mention of Anthony Bourdain, may he Rest In Peace.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ang

    This was really entertaining. Full of fun gossipy cheffy stuff, and interesting food tidbits. (Though it's not for casual food people, I don't think. You should probably know a lot about chefs and food already. It's not a primer.) I did think it was interesting--every time the author mentioned the new dishes that were taking the dining world by storm, I realized that nothing seemed particularly revolutionary or out-of-the-ordinary. That's how much impact these chefs made on the dining world; the This was really entertaining. Full of fun gossipy cheffy stuff, and interesting food tidbits. (Though it's not for casual food people, I don't think. You should probably know a lot about chefs and food already. It's not a primer.) I did think it was interesting--every time the author mentioned the new dishes that were taking the dining world by storm, I realized that nothing seemed particularly revolutionary or out-of-the-ordinary. That's how much impact these chefs made on the dining world; the things that they were doing became the world I'm living in now. Pretty fascinating.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sanjiv Sarwate

    There’s a lot of stuff in this book, and the history it tells is interesting, but there’s almost too much. I felt like I was reading the culinary history of late-mid 20th century America as told by a small child or directed as one of those ensemble holiday romcoms (think Love, Actually) - lots of quick cuts, skip-backs and sparse time spent on any one person. And an almost criminal absence of recipes for such a themed book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Edward Champion

    This isn't so much a work of journalism as it is a rambling volume of solipsism that not only doesn't prove its thesis (presumably, a book proposal?) that chefs were aligned with the rock and roll culture of the 1970s, but it's really just an excuse for the author to suck up to a number of big culinary names. Greatly disappointing. This isn't so much a work of journalism as it is a rambling volume of solipsism that not only doesn't prove its thesis (presumably, a book proposal?) that chefs were aligned with the rock and roll culture of the 1970s, but it's really just an excuse for the author to suck up to a number of big culinary names. Greatly disappointing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Luke Johnson

    Highly chef centered almost to a fault to the food. Don't get me wrong, as someone who works in the industry this is an enjoyable read, but it's so HIGHLY disjointed and it paints almost everyone in such positive terms that I can only give it three stars. Highly chef centered almost to a fault to the food. Don't get me wrong, as someone who works in the industry this is an enjoyable read, but it's so HIGHLY disjointed and it paints almost everyone in such positive terms that I can only give it three stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sam Caldwell

    I work in this field, so the subject was interesting to me for that. But after a while it just seemed to be name after name after name, like the author had to get a mention in for all his friends. Would've made a great ten page article in the New Yorker. I work in this field, so the subject was interesting to me for that. But after a while it just seemed to be name after name after name, like the author had to get a mention in for all his friends. Would've made a great ten page article in the New Yorker.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rick Leach

    A Bit Dry Nice light read. Would have preferred another couple chapters to bring it up to the current time. It did however provide insights that help one understand how things evolved.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Thomas

    Could not wade through this endless minutiae of chefs stories Way to much information that wasn’t necessarily all relevant or interesting and focused a very small group of chefs

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Geiger

    I should say tried to read! Not for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cori McGraw

    Excellent. A fun read that is hard to put down.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Honor Kennedy

    Chronicles the transformation of culinary palate with a generation of innovators bringing new approaches to the American dining experience.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Dimoia

    Surprisingly good, though light, as a mini-cultural history. Intersects nicely with the Alice Waters memoir from last year.

  21. 4 out of 5

    pianogal

    This was on ok read. It was pretty jumpy back and forth between chefs so it was hard to stay into it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Blake Solomon

  23. 4 out of 5

    Niqi

  24. 4 out of 5

    Casey

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Feldman

  26. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anita

  28. 5 out of 5

    Randy fisler

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kyle&Sam

  30. 4 out of 5

    Janet

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