Contest! Win In the Kitchen by Monica Ali


We just received a couple copies of a new book by Monica Ali titled In the Kitchen. I’m just reading it now, so stay tuned for a review, and we’re giving the other one away!

Coincidentally, the title is the same name as the previous incarnation of this blog, though I doubt there’s a connection. Anyway, as much as I like collecting cookbooks, they are not always engaging reading. Recent books on the topic of food I’ve rather enjoyed have been Heat by Bill Buford, My Life in France by Julia Child and of course Kitchen Confidential by none other than Anthony Bourdain to name but a few.

So, to the book.

Monica Ali brings readers into a rich and fascinating London subculture of the high octane world of the hospitality industry. She paints a vivid portrait of the immigrant workers who staff these restaurants and hotels and their personal hopes, histories and secrets they must conceal as they cook the food and make the beds for London’s elite. A better synopsis is available on the publisher’s website, though the story revolves around Gabriel Lightfoot, an executive chef ready to make his move on up. That is, until a worker is found dead in the kitchen’s basement and disturbs the tenuous balance of his life. I’m making it sound like a typical mystery novel, but in fact the book promises to be much deeper, human and interesting than that.

Okay, so how can you win this book? Comment on this post and tell us about your favourite book on the topic of food, in a food setting or with a plot or setting related to food. We’ll pick the winner whose desciption is the most compelling. Here’s a great related post by Nancy to get you started.


16 Responses to “Contest! Win In the Kitchen by Monica Ali”

  1. Posted on June 24th, 2009

    My most recent favourite is Heat by Bill Buford. I learned so much from his descriptions of the difficulties and rewards of working in a ‘professional’ kitchen. I can only dream of experiencing 1/10th of the amazing food he got to prepare and eat.

  2. Posted on June 25th, 2009

    I’ve read a fair number of ‘foodie’ books – fiction, history and biography – and the one that stands above the rest is The United States of Arugula by David Kamp. Kamp traces the evolution of American cuisine, from Jello to artisinal cheese, touching on the birth of restaurant reviewing, celebrity chefs and food philosophies. While the book is packed with facts, dates and names, his writing flows beautifully and I felt like I was reading a novel filled with colourful characters and juicy narratives. Both educational and entertaining, the book sent me scurrying to the library to read more about the people and ideas that Kamp introduced me to.

  3. Posted on June 27th, 2009

    Oh boy it’s hard to narrow it down for me! I just finished David Lebovitz’s book The Sweet Life in Paris which is one of my new favorites. He’s a great writer and parts really make you laugh out loud! One of my other favorites is a book I found in the amazing Powell’s bookstore in Portland and it’s called Everything I Ate, A Year In The Life Of My Mouth by Tucker Shaw. It’s pretty much just pictures of every single thing he ate in New York City in a year with captions of the restaurant he ate it at, who he was with and the time he ate it. You know you are obsessed with food when you can flip through a picture book of food a hundred times over…

  4. Posted on July 4th, 2009

    I’m going to depart from the norm here (not sure if this complies with the rules, no biggie if it doesn’t) and say that my favorite food book is the hand written recipe book my mother gave me as a Christmas gift three or four years ago. At that time I could have lived in an apartment without a kitchen; I didn’t cook (hated to, actually), wasn’t interested in growing anything of my own (how would one do this in a tiny Vancouver apartment anyways?) and subsequently ate out A LOT. Years later, I find myself cooking every day, growing as much as I can out of my 5’x9′ garden plot, and discovering gem after delicious gem from my mothers recipe book. Thank you Mom, you were right, it has come in handy.

  5. Posted on July 4th, 2009

    Ok, it’s not a cook book but my latest food related find is Stanley Park by Timothy Taylor. Growing up in the food industry in Vancouver was great, and to see a lot of it in print…the locations…mixed with guerrilla cooking and a murder mystery…it was a great read.

  6. Posted on July 4th, 2009

    My favourite cook book of all time is The Big Cook. I believe that this book seriously helped my marriage. My wife really does not enjoy cooking and I of course spent 13 years at the Keg Restaurant and enjoy the food experience.

    The Big Cook showed me how to cook smart. I make four meals at a time. Eat one and freeze three. We have great meals because my wife can take one out of the freezer and put it in the slow cooker. Works like a charm!

    Great meals…happy husband and happy wife and kids too!

  7. Posted on July 5th, 2009

    The Joy Of Cooking !! As far as cookbooks go, I give this one as a present to everyone that asks me a million and one cooking questions. After telling them to check there Joy Of Cooking a few times, I quit getting the questions. Why is it so great? The layout of the recipes, the ingredients are in bold in the order they are needed. It has a really great reference section at the beginning of each chapter. It has helped fix everything from overcooking a moose roast, to having my cake rise properly. Vegetables and storage, food safety, why you should do this and not that, etc etc. It doesn’t have much of a plot but I still end up reading it for hours on end.

  8. Posted on July 5th, 2009

    Heat by Bill ruford. His description of making polenta changed the way I make it at home. Forever.

  9. Posted on July 5th, 2009

    That’s Buford.

  10. Posted on July 5th, 2009

    French provincal cooking – Elizabeth David.

    I found an old copy of this magical book, just as i was starting my career as a cook, the copy in question was my mothers, she had stashed it away in the attic ( to be found decades later by me presumably ).
    The lyrical and evocative prose did more for me as a young cook than any given text book at the time and was a most welcomed antidote to all the fancy restaurant cook books of the time ( late 80`s early 90’s UK ).

    Truly inspirational as a read and for its recipes, that book ( and later followed by Simon Hopkinsons Roast chicken and other stories, which would be my second choice ) Changed the way i go about my humble business as a cook, and an avid eater.

  11. Posted on July 6th, 2009

    A couple months ago, Steph and I picked up “Alinea” ( It’s a great collection of recipes and the photography is absolutely stunning. It’s a definite must have in any collection. My other suggestion is “Thai Food” by David Thompson, again a fabulous collection of recipes and photography (I picked this up 3 years ago and still haven’t been able to try most of the mouthwatering ideas).

  12. Posted on July 14th, 2009

    Sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Not the first words that come to mind when discussing your favourite bite of tasty food lit; unless, that is, you’ve been fortunate enough to pick up “Kitchen Confidential ” by none other than the chain-smoking, knife slingin’, “Keith Richards” of the kitchen… Anthony Bourdain. Unpretentious and uncompromisingly honest, “Kitchen Confidential” is a revealing look at Tony’s 25 year stint in some of New York’s toughest kitchens. His love of food and the sweaty, bloodstained lifestyle that seems to pervade the profession at the time is evident throughout, and I’m sure, will resonate with food lovers of all kinds. I simply couldn’t put the book down. A slick, sexy, gritty Guy Ritchie meets Tarantino sort’a’thing about food and the craft of cooking; how could you go wrong!

  13. Posted on July 14th, 2009

    Hey, we’re going to pick a winner this Thursday, July 16th so get your comments in!

  14. Posted on July 16th, 2009

    Congrats to Jackie Connelly, winner of a copy of the book. Although we can’t go out and buy the book, her comment has us all thinking about rummaging through our respective parents’ and grandparents’ recipe files!

    Props to Colin for an inspiring comment on a book we can actually buy and also to Chris for the great prose.

  15. Posted on July 17th, 2009

    Woo hoo! Thanks Foodists!!

    And that’s true, I have the one and only copy of my mothers recipe book, but if anyone needs a wicked recipe for Welsh Cakes I can hook you up.


  16. Posted on July 21st, 2009

    A review of “In The Kitchen” has now been posted in the Meditations section:

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