Once upon a time in America, being a restaurant cook was a job of last resort until a generation of young chefs—almost unwittingly—turned it into a profession with an aura of glamour and creativity.
Andrew Friedman, who has co-authored cookbooks with more than a dozen leading contemporary chefs, has created a lively history of the raucous 1970s and 80s when cooks like Wolfgang Puck, Mary Sue Milliken, Norman Van Aken, Charlie Palmer, and Thomas Keller were part of the redefinition of what it meant to cook professionally. Using interviews with more than 200 figures, he captures the beginnings of a remarkable transition and shines light on a host of lesser known but equally influential chefs, such as Bruce Marder, Diane Forley, Ken Frank, and so many more whose spirit and creativity helped lay the groundwork for the profession today.
For the many who worked in kitchens through those analog years, Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll may bring a flood of memories and summon lyrics from Elvis Costello or the Ramones. For those who didn’t experience the 1970s and 80s, this book is an excellent way to learn about the pre-Food Network, non-televised revolution that gave us the American restaurant scene we have today, and made it possible for young cooks to proudly dedicate their careers to the pursuit of culinary creativity.