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Book Review – All the Sizzle and all the “Skirt Steak”

In this in-depth, behind-the-scenes tell-all about the lives of women chefs, journalist Charlotte Druckman walks the reader into the world behind the hot line.
By Marissa Sertich

Skirt Steak Book

Thank you Charlotte Druckman – As a chef, I’ve been waiting for this story. With its powerfully pink cover and interview-driven narrative, Skirt Steak: Women Chefs On Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen, is full of voices I’ve been longing to hear. It is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes tell-all about women chefs’ lives behind the line.

Frequently a male-driven brigade system, the interviews with over 70 women chefs highlight stories of women beating the odds, working hard, and standing out. The stories are familiar to any female who has worked in a professional kitchen – the rough and gruff banter that makes a kitchen feel like home, the asshole line-cook who takes the sex jokes too far, and working so hard to stand out – not as woman chef – but as a chef. With no qualifier.

When I first ordered the book I was skeptical of this Druckman character– I am generally suspicious of people who make their careers talking about food, but who have never worked in the industry. Being in a kitchen is like being a member to a very exclusive club – not a particularly refined one, but it is selective nonetheless. No matter how witty Jeffrey Steingarten’s food banter may be, he will always be an “other,” a secondary source, and good for a laugh – but despite his knowledge of food, he will never understand the soul of a restaurant. Charlotte Druckman is different.

She allows the professionals speak and uses her eloquent, spunky voice to guide their stories and give the reader a beautiful depictive of how it feels, smells and tastes to be woman in the kitchen.  She journeys from opinion to opinion, experience to experience, from savory to pastry and back again. I recommend Skirt Steak to both men and women – it is a story for anyone in love with the food industry – grease stains, burns and all.

Buy the book HERE.

Marissa Sertich

Marissa Sertich

Marissa Sertich is a New York based pastry chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She passionately documents her adventures of baking and eating her way through the fascinating (and sometimes nutty) underbelly of the American pie. Sertich's writing has been featured in "La Papillote," "EverydayFiction," "The Culinarian," "Toque Magazine," and is currently earning her Master's degree in Food Studies at NYU.

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Originally Published: November 14, 2012

One Response to Book Review – All the Sizzle and all the “Skirt Steak”

  1. Pingback: “Skirt Steak”: Chefs, chauvinism, and women in the food industry « The Conscientious Omnivore

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