If you’ve ever wondered what Dominique Crenn’s views are on achieving a work-life balance, how KOL’s Santiago Lastra views PR and marketing, or what Yoshihiro Narisawa’s can’t-live-without kitchen kit is then this book from Phaidon will be right up your street.
Chefwise, or to give it its longer title ‘Life lessons from leading chefs around the world’ gives insight and advice from 100 chefs from all over the world on topics that the book’s author says you won’t get at culinary school.
The legwork has been done by author Shari Bayer, host of the All in the Industry podcast, who is described as a culinary and hospitality veteran. Bayer, who has worked the floor at legendary Chicago restaurant Charlie Trotter before crossing the divide to set up a hospitality-focused PR company, has spoken at length with chefs to pick apart their philosophies and views across a number of topics.
In total she has picked 14 themes, from philosophy, leadership and inspiration and the oft-discussed issues of cooking, sourcing and identity to those that are less frequently spoken about by those behinds the stoves, including technology, communication, and activism.
Some words of wisdom won’t come as a huge surprise – the chapter on sourcing throwing up observations that have been circling the sector for the past few decades – but Bayer’s breadth of interviewees, from the old guard chefs of Hélène Darroze, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Alice Waters, Clare Smyth and Massimo Bottura to rising stars that include Lastra and Jeremy Chan means that every topic throws up something interesting. While some chefs provide pithy one sentence answers, others dig deeper with more long-form thoughts.
Pick of the bunch are the chapters on communication, with contrasting views on the role of social media, PR and marketing (no spoilers on which famous chef believes social media has no role to play in getting the word out about their restaurants) and the one on the future, where the chef’s crystal balls also throw up a wide range of scenarios.
Handily, Bayer has also included brief but comprehensive biographies of all the contributors creating a useful who’s who of the global culinary landscape that is worth reading before the words of wisdom.
Chefwise is not a book to read cover to cover, but rather to dip in and out of when the mood takes. Prepare to be inspired.
Chefwise: Life lessons from leading chefs around the world
Number of pages: 383
Standout quote: “Follow your heart and your stomach; keep your head in check” – Jonathan Waxman
Publisher and price: Phaidon, £14.95