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Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  648 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
At the French Culinary Institute, Lauren Shockey learned to salt food properly, cook fearlessly over high heat, and knock back beers like a pro. But she also discovered that her real culinary education wouldn't begin until she actually worked in a restaurant. After a somewhat disappointing apprenticeship in the French provinces, Shockey hatched a plan for her dream year: t ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 27th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published June 1st 2011)
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Jul 23, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-releases
A well-written and engaging book, but unfortunately, the writing doesn’t do much to make the writer terribly likable. Ms. Shockey portrays herself as nearly faultless - every restaurant seems to think her the best stage ever to work there, all offer her a job - or comment that she’s obviously going far better places than staying in the kitchen with them. The book would have benefited greatly from a degree of humility about things more than inexperience and a dimming down of the self-satisfaction ...more
Jessica Malzman
Jan 10, 2012 Jessica Malzman rated it it was amazing
Four Kitchens is a must read! I could not put this book down. Lauren riveting tale of her year traveling the globe as a stagier is truly inspiring. She is a brave young woman and a witty and insightful writer. As both an avid traveler and a “foodie” myself I found her story utterly captivating. She is exceptionally observant and her descriptions successfully capture the essence not only of the cities that she lives in but of the people that she meets along the way. Inspired by what I have learne ...more
Brooke Everett
Aug 11, 2013 Brooke Everett rated it liked it
Shelves: food
A quick and breezy read. I love food and cooking, and I love travel, so how could I not like a book about combining the two? Her description of Tel Aviv really made me want to check it out (add it to my never-ending travel wish list!).

On wd~50: "It's true that not everything is delicious at wd~50, but I don't think that's the restaurant's sole purpose. Wylie pushes boundaries and intellectualizes the meal; his cuisine engenders a timely discourse about food and restaurants." p. 94-95

On the chef/
Sep 12, 2011 Monica rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I have recently started reading more and more different kind of memoirs and when I saw this one for review I decided to go for it. While it doesn't hold me rapt like my currently favorite, travel memoirs, it definitely added a different take to what I have been reading. I loved the author's attention to detail through out the story and even though the book ended the way it did you can feel the author's passion for food in every page.

I enjoyed the recipes from Ms. Shockey's travels, she includes
Oct 10, 2011 Liz rated it did not like it
I hate to bash on an ambitious young person, since I am only a few years older than this author, but man, does she need a slice of humble pie. The premise is that after growing up in Manhattan and graduating from the U of C, she decides to spend her savings (?) from a year at a crappy PR job to support a four-country jaunt as a stage in highly regarded restaurant kitchens, then write a book about it. She comes from a family whose parents have "eaten foie gras in virtually every possible iteratio ...more
Feb 05, 2016 Shoshanah rated it liked it
When I first saw this book I remember being intrigued by seeing Tel Aviv in the title. In general, I'm a fan of cooking memoirs, but that was what won me over. (Also there was the tiny detail that I found it at a Borders closing sale so it was crazy discounted.)

After culinary school Shockey decides to stage, or what you could call a restaurant intern, at four restaurants across the world. In her memoir so goes into what it's like working in a fancy kitchen, the differences in them depending on w
Sep 20, 2011 Cheryl rated it liked it
I applaud Lauren for knowing what she wanted and finding a way to pursue her dreams of wanting to be a chef. After Lauren’s disaster in France, some people would have thrown in the towel and been done but Lauren decided to try again only this time at three different locations. Lauren would apprenticeship. The first being in her home town of New York, than Tel Aviv, Israel and finally to Paris, France.

Lauren’s first stop…wd-50. Wylie Dufresne’s place. Anyone who is a foodie, works in the culinar
Oct 27, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: cooking-food
Four Kitchens follows Lauren Shockey as she apprentices in four well-known restaurants in four countries around the world. After going to culinary school at the French Culinary Institute, Lauren knows her real world culinary education will start once she's working in a restaurant. She works at wd-50 in New York City, La Verticale in Hanoi, Vietnam, Carmella Bistro in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Senderens in Paris, France. Each restaurant is vastly different from each other and Lauren learns something ...more
Oct 07, 2011 lana rated it it was ok
As someone who works in kitchens, I found myself wanting to tell the author-repeatedly- that staging in a restaurant feels nothing like working there. She receives a lot of praise and seems to do well as an intern, but her self-congratulating tone gets old quickly.

She does do a good job of dispelling the notion that kitchen work is exciting or glamorous- it's often repetitive and tedious, especially for new initiates- and I think it's been a while since someone has made that point in print. She
May 15, 2012 Asma rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-memoir
i enjoyed reading this book. i found it informative about food and cultures. Lauren was really brave to make it and prove herself in a male dominated field. her year of being stagiere taught her alot more than what she had learned in culunary school.
the only thing that i noticed is that she mentioned briefly about her love life but she never said what happened at the end or why she did not succeed in devolopping long relationships. this left me with some questions. in my opinion it is better if
Gretchen Hicks
Nov 10, 2011 Gretchen Hicks rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 26, 2011 Josephine rated it it was ok

I suppose I’m on a “cooking theme” lately — I have Ruth Reichl’s boringly named “Garlic and Sapphires” lined up after this — with Lauren Shockey’s “Four Kitchens” following not too shortly after Michael Ruhlman’s “The Making of a Chef.”

It’s Shockey’s assertion that, in culinary school (in her case, the French Culinary Institute), all you really learn is how to salt food properly, get over your fear of cooking over high heat and knocking back beers like it’s a competitive sport.

The “real” culinar
University of Chicago Magazine
Lauren Shockey, AB’06

At the French Culinary Institute, Lauren Shockey learned to salt food properly, cook fearlessly over high heat, and knock back beers like a pro. But she also discovered that her real culinary education wouldn't begin until she actually worked in a restaurant. After a somewhat disappointing apprenticeship in the French provinces, Shockey hatched a plan for her dream year: to apprentice in four high-end restaurants around the world. She started in her hometown of New Yor
Feb 06, 2012 Julie rated it liked it
Lauren Stockey is in her early twenties, and she has trained the Culinary Institute in New York. Not sure of what to do next, she spends a year traveling between four restuarants in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv and Paris where she gains experience in four different style kitchens.

If you ever thought you wanted to be a chef, it is worth taking a read, as it shows the not so glamorous life of starting at the bottom in a kitchen. Six hours taking the meat out of crabs, chopping chives and onions is h
Jan 25, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Ohmigod, what am I doing with my life? Boofuckinghoo. Other then the typicalness of the protag being white upper class east coast girl who of course writes a book, I kind of liked it. I liked that if she wanted to stay in New York and work for a restaurant there, she could have, but she choose to kind of take a year off and work and travel around the world at totally different types of places. Heck, some the places she worked at wasn't even that countries local cuisine! I liked that aspect a lot ...more
Luna Raven
Mar 05, 2012 Luna Raven rated it liked it
Recommended to Luna by: Christina Mitchell
I really want to give this 3 1/2 stars, most especially for the delicious recipes. A good read with an interesting revelation for me: this woman traveled many miles to have a similar experience to many other women who work in kitchens, so the problems that exist really are industry wide.

My personal favorite portions of the book took place Hanoi and Tel Aviv. You could feel what the author was talking about as though you were there with her as she experienced two very diverse cultures from her ow
Jun 18, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it
I'm a sucker for behind-the-scenes kitchen memoirs, so I flew through this book and enjoyed it. The author is like a much less foul-mouthed Anthony Bourdain (I really enjoy his books too, for the record). The only thing I found kind of weird about this book was that all the dialogue felt weirdly stilted. It's nonfiction so it's not "dialogue" in the sense of fiction (it's conversations she's recounting from memory) but everything that was said sort of sounded like a prepared speech.

But aside fro
Aug 27, 2012 Annita rated it it was ok
Shockey's book is only disappointing in that she didn't have time to go to more "stages". She does a great job of sharing the unique restaurant menus and personalities. She has the advantage of apparently unlimited parental support for her quest and maybe unlimited funds? Her book takes the reader inside kitchens in restaurants without the Disney Ratatouille version involving rats. There is a clear inclusion of clean work areas, clean vegetables and clean restaurants. Shockey's best contribution ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Stephen rated it liked it
Whether Gilgamesh king of Uruk, or Marco Polo or William Least Heat-Moon, tales of travel and far-off adventure have intrigued readers for millennia. A now well-established sub-genre of travel writing is the first-person culinary report of culinary adventures in distant places. Anthony Bourdain wrote what may be the ne plus ultra of the category in "A Cook's Tour" (2001). While Lauren Shockey's book describes her adventures as a stagiaire (unpaid low-level cook in a restaurant) in restaurant kit ...more
Feb 22, 2013 Janie rated it really liked it
Shockey, Lauren. Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris. Grand Central. Jul. 2011. c.352p. ISBN 9780446559874. $24.99. COOKING
Shockey, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and a food writer for the Village Voice and other publications, has penned a memoir of her time working as an unpaid kitchen apprentice in four different countries. Even with college credentials, she quickly learns that real-life experience is an entirely different type of educa
Apr 18, 2013 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-writing
Very enjoyable book about a culinary journey around the world. The autheor spent time in four countries learning to cook their cousine and trying to learn as much as she could about herself as a chef and the culture behind the food - a fascinating look at the author's personal journey and the intersting things (and people) that go on behind the scenes in restaurant kitchens. This was my first exposure to the concept of moleculor gastronomy, which I found quite interesting (and I must admit, a li ...more
Aug 25, 2015 Randal rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: nonfiction
I really wanted to like this book -- it's been on my to-read list for a couple of years. The content is fine -- working as an intern (called throughout a stage) at restaurants around the world, including Wylie Dufrense's wd~50. The recipes are worth looking at. But overall it falls flat.
A few little pas amusants to go with all the amuses the author samples along the way ...
* As noted by many reviewers here, her combination of self-entitlement and apparent lack of gratitude adds a harsh note. Not
Monica Williams
Jan 14, 2014 Monica Williams rated it really liked it
While the title of the book pretty much sums up the storyline, it's what happens at each of the places that makes the book a great read! Shockey, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute went through a disappointing internship after she graduated. Returning home she decided the only way to know if she wanted to become a chef was to work as one. Chefs can participate in what is called at "stage" basically an unpaid internship with brutal hours and at times mind numbing tasks. If you have a wea ...more
Jan 24, 2014 Joni rated it it was ok
Got 3/4 of the way through and returned it to the library. I got sick of the author 'humble-bragging' about her kitchen prowess and travels around the world.
May 29, 2014 Robin rated it really liked it
While she did have a romantic view of what it was to be a chef and restaurant kitchen life in general -- until she did it -- the travel background of the book is very interesting
Apr 27, 2014 Pam rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, food
The book had its good points, like the recipes and descriptions of what kind of work goes into a kitchen like wd-50's. But the biggest problem I had with this book was that I just didn't like the author. Since this is a memoir, not liking the author and her voice is a big problem. She started coming off as a bit entitled and never really happy with anything. wd-50 was too bogged-down in technique rather than satisfying food. La Verticale had delicious food, but the other chefs weren’t passionate ...more
Aug 02, 2014 Zovig rated it it was ok
Following in a spate of food memoirs that I've read recently that are by extraordinarily talented writers (Ruth Reichl and Fucshia Dunlop among the best), this book about a young culinary school grad who stages at restaurants in nyc, paris, vietnam, and israel, is underwhelming. The author never recognizes the privilege of her life as an upper middle class kid who gets the chance to stage around the world (with parents who can afford to visit her whereever she goes). More interesting than her st ...more
Mar 16, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
I've read a number of autobiographical tales from behind the spoon. Each one offers a unique view of cultures and experiences that as a home cook, I will doubtfully ever experience myself. Congrats to Lauren Shockey for having the guts to follow her dreams. It takes courage and spirit to travel the world and find your bliss. I enjoyed the descriptive aspect of the new scenery though the conversations were not well written.

However, the level of whining and ingratitude for the training and patien
Elizabeth C. Haynes
Dec 09, 2014 Elizabeth C. Haynes rated it it was ok
Shelves: quit-reading
It's just...boring. It's ok writing overall with the exception of dialogue, which is very badly written. Really there just is nothing particularly interesting going on. Going to the giveaway pile.
Glen U
Jul 10, 2016 Glen U rated it liked it
Enjoyable, informative, surprisingly well written, this book follows an American woman through her travails and discoveries , as she works as an unpaid intern in four different but reputable restaurants around the globe. A good read, but Anthony Bourdain does it better.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please Combine: Four Kitchens 3 11 Jun 02, 2012 05:16PM  
  • A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family
  • The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love
  • Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything
  • Cooking Dirty: A Story of Life, Sex, Love and Death in the Kitchen
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adria's Elbulli
  • Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto
  • Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen
  • Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China
  • The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France
  • Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life
  • Everything but the Squeal: Eating the Whole Hog in Northern Spain
  • The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese
  • Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America
  • Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times
  • The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis
  • Are You Really Going to Eat That?: Reflections of a Culinary Thrill Seeker
  • Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen
  • Under the Table: Saucy Tales from Culinary School
Lauren Shockey is a staff writer at the Village Voice, where she writes a weekly restaurant review and blogs daily at Fork in the Road. Her articles have also appeared in many publications including The New York Times, The New York Times Style Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate, among others. Four Kitchens is her first book.
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