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I Hear She's a Real Bitch

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,276 ratings  ·  195 reviews
A sharp and candid memoir from a star in the restaurant world, and an up-and-coming literary voice.

Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg, the woman behind the popular The Black Hoof, Cocktail Bar, Rhum Corner, and Agrikol restaurants, is known for her frank, crystal-sharp and often hilarious observations and ideas on the restaurant industry and the world around her.

I Hear She's a
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by Doubleday Canada
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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Jasmine from How Useful It Is
TWITTER GIVEAWAY: RT/Follow to win a finished copy. *US ONLY* Giveaway Ends 9/30/17. 8PM CST. My twitter handle is @howusefulitis Thanks! :-)

About: I Hear She’s A Real Bitch is a memoir written by Jen Agg. It was recently published on 9/12/17 by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, paperback, 368 pages. The genres are autobiography, culinary, and non-fiction.

My Experience: I started reading I Hear She’s a Real Bitch on 8/21/17 and finished it on 9/15/17. I enjoyed reading this
May 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: biography-foodies
Shelves: netgalley
Publication 16/05/17

Confession: I had absolutely no clue who Jen Agg was, I have never eaten in any of her Toronto area restaurants, but I thought the title was intriguing enough to give it a try. The restaurant bits were really interesting, some of the personal life tidbits not so much. When one chapter switches from exploring the idea of the importance of getting along with your co-workers to relating how you stole your mom's vibrator at age 12, I cannot help but feel that way in which you ha
I am happy I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, as it is something I wouldn't pick up to read, unless I knew who she was or was familiar with her bars and restaurants.
That being said, I actually enjoyed the book, it's very well written and offers quite a bit of insiders info in the hospitality business. The good, the bad and the ugly. From opening up to having to shut down and go bankrupt, to finding the man of your dreams and finally making it. The stupid "bro" mentality of hazing the new
Khashayar Mohammadi
An absolutely enlightening book on the progression of Toronto's culinary culture. Its a book written by one of the most influential minds behind Toronto's culinary and bar culture. Its an enticing read for anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant; but its an essential read for Toronto cooks. One of the best books I have ever red on the subject of Cooking and restaurant management.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 10, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie
I'm not sure why I picked this one up, but certainly the Anthony Bourdain blurb didn't hurt. But I think I learned something important in my ho-hum experience of reading Sweetbitter (my review here) - when it comes to restaurants, I'm just not that into stories about the front of the house. Jen Agg is a restauranteur but not a chef, and after a few chapters I felt like I wasn't learning much about the stuff I was most interested in, that she was hard to take, and when the book came due at the li ...more
Lauren Simmons
Okay so...Jen Agg is a person I admire, who makes restaurants I love. She is so fucking strong and has such vision and has only been kind and generous to me.


I felt the first few chapters of this book were hard to read. Maybe I was imposing my prudishness or jealousy that my high school experience wasn't as salacious, but I just really didn't feel like I needed to read about the all the underage drinking and sex and stuff.

The chapters about making restaurants are great. The art in the book i
sssnoo reads
Mar 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
I haven’t read this book but am responding to Jen Agg’s stint as a judge for the Food52 Piglet cookbook contest. She was a round two judge and reviewed 2 books. The rules state the judge should cook at least three recipes from each book. Jen is a known rule breaker, says she stated up front she had no intention to cook any recipes due to extenuating life circumstances and went on to flippantly judge the books based on a quick read - because as a restaurant professional she feels she can judge re ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
I so hate this book. I would have thrown it across the room and then tossed it into the nearest garbage can early on, but it was a gift from a very kind friend and I felt obligated to finish it. Reading this barely edited book length rant/autobiography felt like being pinned in a bar by a loud, drunk person with a hand clamped on your arm, leaning into your face breathing alcohol fumes as they bellow their personal life at you. Agg spares the reader nothing, including graphic descriptions of her ...more
Stephanie P
I appreciate that the author is an important part of the restaurant and bar industry. And her approach to leadership and business is impressive, especially re: breaking down gender stereotypes and encouraging wage equality. Totally amazing.

As a book however, I'm left wanting. Truthfully I've never skimmed a book so fast, actually fully skipping over chapters (ie. the sections about her childhood memories and adult sex life felt like filler - fast forward please.) The most interesting stuff is a
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoyed the late Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, you should snag a chance to read I Hear She's a Real Bitch.

At times she goes through rants of her life, but what she also shares - and this is what I enjoyed readng - the highs and lows of the restaurant business and industry, specifically in Toronto and Montreal. There are surely tidbits anyone working in the restaurant industry should pay heed to.

She also discusses the food writing industry
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-nonfiction
A while ago I read Generation Chef: Risking It All for a New American Dream, the story of a young chef determined to open a renowned restaurant, and the business and food selection processes were most interesting. Jen Agg's story is from an opposite POV, in that is she was not a chef but a trained bartender, running her own cocktail bar in Toronto. After Agg lost the bar business she opened The Black Hoof, a restaurant featuring charcuterie, the craft of curing meat such as salami, sausages, pat ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
My rating of this book has nothing to do with Jenn as a maverick and trailblazer in her industry. I appreciate all the great things she has done for food and drink in Toronto. We need more women like her! But the book was -sorry...a disaster. Her editor...where are you? The juicy bits were fun but meant nothing to her story as an entrepreneur. She is raw and unashamed which is great but was this book about her personal challenges? Or how she’s had to fight through a difficult times in the restau ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly interesting and detailed account of operating a small, upscale restaurant. Attention is given to every little nuance in order for the customer to have a delightful experience. We also learn all about the owner and how she came to developing and running her establishment.
Tara Poitras
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn't realise she was behind so many restaurants. It was an interesting read but she's super braggy. I'm all for pride but some of her statements are a bit OTT. She claims to have started some trends which i think is a bit bold. She's also an over sharer.
pencil drawing or not I did not need to see her vagina.
Samantha March
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I don’t read a ton of memoirs, but I’m always very interested in women entrepreneurs and their stories. Jen Agg is in the restaurant business, and her story unfolds how she got into the industry, how she became successful, and all the good and bad in between. There was a lot of interesting aspects to the book, but a lot of slower moments for me that made it challenging for me to stay invested. I skipped around a bit but I enjoyed the motivational moments, just not an all around favorite of mine. ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brave memoir written with honesty by restauranteur Jen Agg. After finishing this book, I have a lot of respect for her, as well as her vision in creating spaces for people to gather and enjoy food together, and acknowledging the contrasts of her personality and experiences. There were a few ah ha moments in regards to women in business and I may have taken in the bro stereotypes paragraph a bit too much as a fellow/potential bro encroached on my airplane seat space/personal bubble with his bar ...more
Sad to look up and find that the Black Hoof closed in 2018. As I was reading, I was formulating a trip to Toronto to include a visit to her restaurant, but I'll keep an eye out for her new restaurant openings.
Interesting turmoil displayed around her feminist beliefs/values - not the first time I've seen this in a book.
Meg Power
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great book that is a combination of food, booze, feminism, raunchy humor and swearing. Jen Agg's writing is fast, witty and felt like I was sitting inside her head and seeing all of the things she was describing. Highly recommend for anyone who loves the food world but is tired of only hearing the male perspective.
Karen Green
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2017, nonfiction
I knew Jen Agg briefly in the late '90s when she and Tyler ran Cobalt, and I worked/lived/dated the owner of/was always at Aunties and Uncles, a very good brunch joint down the street. Jen was always warm and witty and Cobalt was fantastic, even if I shudder at the memory that my favourite cocktail was a sweet blue mess called, I believe, the Marge Simpson.

So anyway, I've enjoyed watching Jen slay the Toronto bro-heavy restaurant scene, applauded her unapologetic feminism even if the delivery s
Teena in Toronto
Aug 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
The Black Hoof, Cocktail Bar and Rhum Corner are about a twenty minute walk northeast from me. I like rum and have walked by the Rhum Corner to check it out but I seem to pick the wrong times because it's been closed when I've gone by. I'll get there eventually.

Jen Agg is the owner of these bars/restaurants (along with two others) and this is her story. The book starts with her childhood in Scarborough, working in restaurants and bars for others, realizing her dream of opening her own bar (Cobal
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fuds
I'd give this a 3.5 if I could but am fairly happy to round up to 4. I felt like the book was a little long, and found myself eye-rolling slightly at certain things (too cool for gentrification while having to acknowledge she helped usher it in / generally only likes hanging with guys while acknowledging that it sounds lamely "cool girl") . However, for this die-hard fiction reader, the book was compulsively readable and I enjoyed reading about her process in opening restaurants and how it dovet ...more
Sonia Liapounova
Nov 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

The book started out with a promise of being a relatively interesting account of how Jen created and runs her restaurant business. However it quickly degraded into a mediocre memoir about an average American suburban childhood. The author attempted to make it interesting by writing about how she was a tomboy until she grew into a teenager and became interested in boys and smoking. While this may be interesting to hardcore fans of Jen Agg, I do not recommend this to anyone who wants to re
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I tried, I really tried, but it screams "oh I'm not like other women" style white washed feminism. Like others, I would agree that there was some interesting parts, some parts even hilarious. But I just can't get this bad taste out of my mouth, scoffing outloud and far too many eye rolls later. I really wanted to love this book, and have a strong female character in the food Buisness to admire....but sadly.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Less angst; more restaurant. And lose the nude sketch. I really don't care.
No holds barred, honest memoir of a woman who carved her own niche into a business that has largely had zero interest in making space for women. I appreciated her background story (I'm not bothered by her talk about her teenage self, sex life, or other personal details - -I think a really important part about women speaking their truth is that we get away from this idea that they can't be sexual and have desires and embarrassing stories and skeletons in the closet, like men get to, and still be ...more
Christa Sampson
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is well worth the read. Jen Agg’s prose is as meaty as the menu at her former flagship restaurant The Black Hoof.
Agg has built her company under the premise of doing things differently - not just for the sake of it, but rather to set a new and improved standard of conduct in her industry. However, this is merely an extension of Agg’s overall mission to tear down societal barriers. Her active Twitter feed regularly rallies a call to action.
In this memoir, and on the daily, Jen Agg hold
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Once again, late-night probably-drunk me has gifted now-me with a book to read, courtesy of the online reservation system at my public library. I've gone over it in my head and I literally have no idea how I ended up on this book. I have never heard of Jen Agg before, never been to Toronto ... I do enjoy the hell out of fine dining but I've never heard of her places, and so on. For all I know my clicking 'place request' on my library's site was predicated solely on the book's title and if so ... ...more
Amar Pai
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This one was a bit of slog to get through, all those freaking brackets and em dashes, what a cruel thing to do to your reader, over and over and over again. Completely unnecessary. It is obvious too that the author is not a writer by profession. For the most part though and as a food enthusiast and a passionate amateur home cook, I did enjoy the story and I'm very sorry I missed the charcuterie board at The Black Hoof. Really not sure how that happened. I would also argue that the Italian equiva ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
SCPL Online NonFi...: In closing... 3 9 Oct 05, 2017 02:36PM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Behind the scenes... 5 9 Sep 29, 2017 10:46AM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Life Online 3 7 Sep 29, 2017 10:26AM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Problems in Partnerships 3 9 Sep 19, 2017 07:21AM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Getting started in the restaurant business. 6 11 Sep 19, 2017 06:56AM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: At first glance 5 12 Sep 12, 2017 09:31AM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Introduction to the September Book! 1 9 Sep 01, 2017 11:47AM  

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JEN AGG is a restaurateur in Toronto, Ontario (CANADA).

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