Ava Chin is the author of Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal and the former Urban Forager columnist for The New York Times. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, Saveur, The Village Voice, Spin, and others. A former slam poet and activist, she is a professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at CUNY. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Follow her at AvaChin.com.
From his first job scraping trays at a pizzeria at age fifteen, Jason Sheehan worked on the line at all kinds of restaurants: a French colonial and an all-night diner, a crab shack just off the interstate and a fusion restaurant in a former hair salon. Restaurant work, as he describes it in exuberant, sparkling prose, is a way of life in which "your whole universe becomes a small, hot steel box filled with knives and meat and fire." The kitchen crew is a fraternity with its own rites: cigarettes in the walk-in freezer, sex in the basement, the wartime urgency of the dinner rush. Cooking is a series of personal challenges, from the first perfectly done mussel to the satisfaction of surgically sliced foie gras. And the kitchen itself, as he tells it, is a place in which life's mysteries are thawed, sliced, broiled, barbecued, and fried—a place where people from the margins find their community and their calling.
With this deeply affecting book, Sheehan (already acclaimed for his reviews) joins the first class of American food writers at a time when books about food have never been better or more popular.