Cooking Dirty

Cooking Dirty: Life, Love and Death in the Kitchen
By Jason Sheehan
Atlantic £16.99 368 pages
FT Bookshop price: £13.59

Celebrity chefs are still with us, though you can’t help thinking that their heyday as cultural icons has been and gone. Similarly, this slice of macho culinary memoir has the unmistakable savour of fish served on Monday: no longer quite fresh.

Cook-turned-food critic Jason Sheehan is a gutsy writer, and his descriptions of a short-order kitchen in full flow are enjoyably punchy – sometimes literally so, as fist fights, drugs and booze muddle in with the food prep, which wavers between inspired virtuosity and health-code-violating malpractice. And who could not warm to the brusque poetry of the order calls? “Double haystack: bacon/well bacon, going apple, jizz,” (“jizz” being sour cream, in case you were wondering).

What works in the sealed world of the kitchen, however, palls outside it, and Sheehan’s account of his extra-curricular low-life adventures are ultimately of minimal interest.

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