Don't try this at home: culinary catastrophes from the world's greatest chefs
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Don't try this at home: culinary catastrophes from the world's greatest chefs

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3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  685 ratings  ·  120 reviews
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME
Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs
A hilarious and heartening collection of kitchen disasters.
In this raucous new collection, over forty of the world's greatest chefs relate outrageous true tales from their kitchens. From hiring a blind line cook to flooding the room with meringue to being terrorized by a French owl, these behind-the...more
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Published (first published 2005)
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Petra X
Don't try *what* at home? Acting like a pompous chef who knows it all and wants to tell you that you certainly don't? Reminds me of Chopped on the Food Network where some chefs get all snotty because they went to culinary school and other chefs, sorry 'cooks', didn't. There is only one true way of judging food - did you enjoy it or not? Who cares who prepared it or what training they had? If the food is awful then the fact it was prepared by a graduate of the Culinary Arts Institute isn't going...more
Melki
"The lobsters are off!"
...is not something you want to hear when you are catering a dinner for thirty-two hundred people.

And this is only one dilemma faced by chefs and would-be-chefs in this book of collected tales detailing all that can AND WILL go wrong in the culinary world.

Here is every disaster imaginable, from an overly sensitive sprinkler system to a kitchen floor squirming with escaped eels.

Mario Batali exacts a "salty" revenge before walking out on a nightmare boss.

Anthony Bourdain spi...more
Gypsy Lady
Cast in its most positive light, with the exception of language that is, in my opinion, inappropriate to the situation or the reading audience, this collection of chefs' "outrageous true tales" depicts the restaurant industry as the "downstairs" of the Public Television series Upstairs Downstairs.

What societal pressures created these often mean spirited chefs and cooks who cannot ask for help, identify that they even need help, or acknowledge (at the time, to the customer) the food "catastrophe...more
Lidiab
Anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant business could tell a story about it..one that could either make you laugh or cry. I have just re-read this book for the 4th time and it still brings tears to my eyes; it's that funny.
This is the most entertainment a person could get from some the the worlds greatest chefs. The mix between personality and REAL situations they find themselves in. Im just really glad these chefs shared their stories and someone put into a book.
Leslie
I love to read Anthony Bourdain! He is brilliant Honest and sarcastic. He is more than willing to be self-deprecating and call others on their BS. So when I saw a book featuring short tales from various famous and infamous [Mario Batali] chefs I grabbed it.

Unfortunately most chefs aren't Anthony Bourdain; most are apparently pompous little snots. Too often their culinary catastrophes occurred when they were very young, were blamed upon another or were just so boring you couldn't care.

When read...more
Quanita
This is the perfect carry-along book for the bus, doctor or dentist office. Chapters are approx. 4-10 pages long, quick reads. Each chapter is the remembrance of a chef, 40 in all. Some I recognize (Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain), most I didn't. Some are funny, some would make a perfect disaster movie. (Hundreds of live eels accidently dumped on the kitchen floor; an outdoor wedding reception ruined by a sudden rain storm - but the $30,000 wedding cake survived intact because it was shielded...more
Becky


Food is fast becoming entertainment, so it’s only natural that it should follow in the footsteps of sports and show business and offer up a collection of bloopers. Literary agent Witherspoon and food writer Friedman corralled 40 gastronomic heavyweights to share their versions of dinners gone wrong. The highlight is, unsurprisingly, the piece by chef and bestselling author Anthony Bourdain. His “New Year’s Meltdown” is a case study in what happens when you don’t plan (Bourdain admits, “Nobody li...more
Melissa
Sep 15, 2012 Melissa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love food and eating out.
Don't Try This at Home is a collection of essays told by a goodly number of celebrity chefs, recounting some of their misadventures in their chosen field. There's a mix of names, some famous to most people, some to those that would be familiar to those that are serious foodies. Each story is unique as are the voices telling the story. Kimberly Witherspoon does a lovely job of bringing these voices together and keeping the different tones each chef brings.

Sadly, that editing becomes a double-edge...more
Bob
I only recognized the names of a few of the chefs who have contributed anecdotes of their mistakes, shared the behind-the-scene antics and admitted how they fooled customers.
Thanks to the Food Network and other cable TV shows, chefs like Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain and Marcus Samuelsson are folks I've heard of and can even recognize.
Most of the people whose kitchen bombs are made public in this 2005 compilation may have Michelin stars and James Beard awards, but their names mean nothing to me...more
Kristin
Years of watching the Food Network made this book more appealing than had I read it when it first came out, as I knew a fraction of the chefs whose stories were featured. Not a chef myself, so the nightmare for me would be even trying to craft half the elaborate dishes discussed, but it's nice to read that even the finest chefs still have to deal with disasters in the kitchen.
Not all of the stories were related to food that went bad. Some had to deal with colleagues that made working in the kitc...more
Bookshop
The book contains essays from famous chefs about their culinary disasters. Due to the sheer amount of writers, the result is unavoidably a mixed bag. Some, such as David Thompson and Anthony Bourdain, are great writers. Others miss the theme. The rest should not be allowed to write.

The tales range from the tame (mostly about brawls in the kitchen ala Kitchen Confidential) to the outrageous (hiring a blind cook? Perhaps Chef Hamilton was forced by political correctness not to ask for any illness...more
Kate  K. F.
This collection of anecdotes from chefs was interesting but the title was slightly misleading. I was expecting many of the stories to be about humorous mishaps but instead they were mainly about happy accidents or formative experiences. Once I realized that the title didn't match the collection, I found it rather more satisfying as the chefs talked about being the new chef in different kitchens, bad nights, opening nights and everything in between.

Most of the essays are short, only a few pages...more
Meredith
Perhaps there's a reason these folks are chefs and not writers. I read a few of these essays, and I *love* reading cooking- and food-related nonfiction...but after a few I was ready to put this one back on the shelf. Even with what must have been extensive editing, these stories failed to capture me. Chefs with egos too high to admit that they ever do anything wrong (it's always the other crazy people in the kitchen) are just annoying; those that actually admitted *they* may have screwed things...more
Ryan
While there were the expected "Oh no! I dropped the food!" stories here, there was enough variety of catastrophe (getting unexpectedly slammed on an opening night, say, or unknowingly away turning Jackie O.) to keep the book from getting repetitive--though many of the chef/writer/catastrophe-havers did use the tale-telling opportunity to also note how quick of mind and deft of hand they are in a crisis. I do not fault them for this.

My one "huh?" moment came when I finished Chef Michael Lomonaco'...more
Tracy
A mixed bag of kitchen disaster stories from chefs - many of whom I actually recognized, thanks to Top Chef and the Food Network shows - Wylie Dufresne, Marcus Samuelsson, Jaimie Oliver, etc. There were a few duds, mostly the ones about being drunk or getting drunk (Anthony Bourdain covered all that ages ago), but I chuckled at most of them. Enjoyed Tom Colicchio's stories about travel engagements gone awry (and how he fixed them) and the Sara Moulton's chapter about an ego-deflating Thanksgivin...more
Lianne
An anthology of emergency moments in the kitchen. 37 famous chefs confess about their moments of greatest challenge. Many of the stories date from their beginning years. My two favorite stories both involve dealing with animals. Wylie Dufresne deals with an unexpected visitor in his room at a French hotel where he is an intern by asking the baker to come to his room. Scott Conant describes what happened when a shipment of 500 pounds of live eels crashed out of their containers. Though sometimes...more
Rebecca Huston
A very funny, over the top collection of stories from famous chefs, both television or not. This one looks at those days when things go very very very wrong, and a chef finds themselves in the middle of chaos. Considering that many in that chaos are angry, have short tempers and are usually handling sharp knives, heavy items or scalding water, it can get real ugly, real fast. A terrific read for any foodie and cautionary tales for those who are considering a career as a professional chef. Recomm...more
Terree Rola
Aug 15, 2012 Terree Rola rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jenn Felmley
So many people have become enamoured with the idea of living the life of a celebrity chef - -cooking/eating on TV, guest hosting at incredible food festivals, books & cookware deals, etc. Many don't realize that many of these chefs got into the business before things became glamorous for a dedicated few back of house (BOH) staff.

This book is a compilation of some of the most famous & most respected chefs in the world as they share their experiences: some humorous, some humiliating, and a...more
Kathy
Entertaining, but nothing truly "catastrophic" happens to any of the chefs. I did learn to never transport a wedding cake on my car's backseat...amazing how many times this was mentioned ; )
Diane C.
This book is a collection of anecdotes about kitchen/cooking disasters by many of the most famous chefs in the world. The table of contents lists each chef and what page their chapter is on, so it's easy to skip around and read favorites first if you want.

By the time most of us hear about these men and women, they are at the top of their game, so it's refreshing (and rather courageous on their part) to hear of a big past mistake or failure. It's personally helpful to see reminders in the context...more
Maria
a fun easy read. at times some of the chefs come off as pretentious but at least they kept the chapters mercifully short. with the exception of Tamasin Day Lewis who had the longest entry in the collection. I made it 3 pages in to her bizarre and painfully boring story (all backstory that had nothing to do with her actual story) before I eventually skipped it entirely.
Highlights include Michelle Bernstein ,Anthony Bourdain ,David Burke , Samuel Clark ,Jonathan Eismann , and Claudia Fleming. The...more
Patrick
not everyone that can cook like a master can write like a master. The central theme is understood by everyone in the business, that being no matter what happens in the kitchen you must be able to think on your feet and keep pushing forward.
There was the night I went toe to toe with our new cook from Mali who received the ticket intended for my station at his, and I caught him throwing it on the floor. The kitchen manager needed us to focus as it was 8p.m. on a friday night. He got our attentio...more
Mike
It was three weeks after the opening of a place I was sous chef at.After yet another crazy night of firing interns,new equipment not working right,and almost running out of fire wood,the owner pulled myself and the Chef de Cuisine aside after service."You know what boys,someday this will all seem funny"
This book is a compilation of stories by famous chefs about worst case scenarios,bizarre happenings and funny events.Anyone that's spent time in a kitchen can relate.Some of these tales may not se...more
Laura
Some of the stories were jaw dropping and I couldn't help my interest in the celebrity voyeurism. I'll never look at hollandaise sauce the same way. But what's up with Jamie Oliver getting the last story? I thought his was the most offensive!
Garrick
This book kept me engaged and laughing all the way through. In fact, it would have received the full complement of five stars but for the formatting. I've recently noticed that many previously-published books are transferred to e-book status rather automatically, with little to no human intervention. Thus, "I" is frequently rendered as the numeral "1," there are paragraph breaks in the middle of paragraphs, and in one of the essays "Chicken Pollo Loco" is repeatedly referred to as "Chicken Polio...more
Paul
Nice, bite sized tales of woe from some of the worlds best Chefs.
Patty
Fun to read about chef's cooking catastrophes. Amazing stories.
M—
I liked the essays by Bourdain and Batali, but they were among the very few chefs collected in this book whose names I was familiar with. The other essays in this collection didn't strike me as terribly enjoyable cold reads — not very well written, rather dull in content, and tagged with a moral ending as often as not. DNF.

I have also incidentally drenched my copy of this with red wine. Whoops. At least it's a cooking book so an artful splatter of wine kinda matches... tangentially, anyway.
Jon
Several of the stories are similar or tend to drift but some of the stories in here are hysterical. Some contained more reflections than horror stories, but it still lent a very human aspect to some of the more well known chefs. It also help drive in the point of how hard a job it is and how much is done for love of food.[return][return]I wish I had kept better track of some of the folks where I liked the writing. I probably will hunt down a few books just from reading them in here.
Katie
This book is a bunch of different scenarios of famous chefs. It is educational because I feel like I really get to know the kitchen world. Because each story is by a different person, not all of them who speak English as a first language, and probably none of which are inspiring writers, I feel like some of the stories are not really that interesting. Also, because it is just a collection of stories, I don't feel the huge desire to finish reading quickly like many other books.
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