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Memoir of the Sunday Brunch
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Memoir of the Sunday Brunch

4.3 8
by Julia Pandl

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For Julia Pandl, the rite of passage into young-adulthood included mandatory service at her family’s restaurant, where she watched as her father—who was also the chef—ruled with the strictness of a drill sergeant.

At age twelve, Julie was initiated into the rite of the Sunday brunch, a weekly madhouse at her father’s


For Julia Pandl, the rite of passage into young-adulthood included mandatory service at her family’s restaurant, where she watched as her father—who was also the chef—ruled with the strictness of a drill sergeant.

At age twelve, Julie was initiated into the rite of the Sunday brunch, a weekly madhouse at her father’s Milwaukee-based restaurant, where she and her eight older siblings before her did service in a situation of controlled chaos, learning the ropes of the family business and, more important, learning life lessons that would shape them for all the years to come. In her wry memoir, she looks back on those formative years, a time not just of growing up but, ultimately, of becoming a source of strength and support as the world her father knew began to change into a tougher, less welcoming place.

Part coming-of-age story à la The Tender Bar, part win- dow into the mysteries of the restaurant business à la Kitchen Confidential, Julie Pandl provides tender wisdom about the bonds between fathers and daughters and about the simple pleasures that lie in the daily ritual of breaking bread. This honest and exuberant memoir marks the debut of a writer who discovers that humor exists in even the smallest details of our lives and that the biggest moments we ever experience can happen behind the pancake station at the Sunday brunch.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A witty and affectionate debut from Pandl, an occasional standup comic who first self-published this book in 2011, is rife with colorful recollections of familial adventures at home and at her parents’ Milwaukee restaurant, Pandl’s. The youngest of nine, the author, now 41, began her restaurant career at 12, and she quickly learned the joys and horrors of working the Sunday brunch (hilarious depictions of panicked pancake-making and hungover fish-deboning are particularly memorable). Her parents, whom she calls Terry and George, are kooky for sure, but when George is in boss mode, he transforms into a twitching, tongs-wielding, dining-room tyrant. But it’s all part of the lovable, unforgettable package that is George—which makes Pandl’s story all the more poignant as she writes of Terry’s illness and death, and later, George’s own illness and dependence on his children. Pandl shifts perspectives from daughter and sibling to caregiver and companion; she writes, “Our parents are planted everywhere in us.” There’s much to relate in this worthwhile read, from funny family and workplace tales to thoughtful musings on faith, mortality, and loyalty. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In 1968, 40 miles north of Milwaukee, George Pandl opened a restaurant that became known for its ambience, service, and generous menu of local seafood and meat dishes. His daughter Julia writes here in a crisp, irreverent style about growing up as the last of nine children and, at 12, being initiated into working the grueling Sunday brunches with her father's "chain gang." Now, at age 42, she reflects on how her laidback dad morphed into a crazed taskmaster at work, snapping tongs and scowling at employees. She expresses her deep pain, anger, and confusion regarding lessons learned during her teenage years when her parents became distant and her home and the restaurant became unwelcoming places from which to escape. However, as illness required both parents to depend on their children, each family member's perspective changed, feelings deepened, and home again resembled a place of caregiving and companionship. VERDICT In this unmemorable memoir, Pandl shares a few sarcastic comments about food preparation and reflects on her eventual rekindling of fondness and care for her parents and siblings.—Jerry P. Miller, Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Pandl's memoir recounts her Midwestern childhood and the behind-the-scenes action of her family's restaurant. The youngest of nine, the author and her siblings grew up working in their Catholic family's Milwaukee restaurant under the supervision of their father, the chef. Pandl's tenderhearted, humorous debut explores her childhood memories, at home and in the kitchen, and her relationships with both of her parents, particularly that with her eccentric, ferociously hardworking father, George. After he caught the 12-year-old Pandl on the couch in her pajamas one summer afternoon, he put her to work. Her first job involved "doing pancakes" during the restaurant's brunch service, and she rose to the task with hilarious results. The majority of her stories reflect the loving, chaotic atmosphere of her family, both in and out of the restaurant kitchen, but Pandl doesn't sugarcoat the darker ones with unnecessary sentimentality. Instead, she relies on humor to keep her vignettes engaging. "The few baby pictures that exist were all taken on the same day," she writes, "as if someone said, 'Let's get a few pictures, just in case she's kidnapped.' " In her 20s, Pandl watched her father "retire and unretire" more than a dozen times, continuing the work he had done his entire career even as his efforts grew less and less appreciated. She describes her parents' deaths with astonishing, plain honesty, and discusses the myriad ways, good and bad, in which they live on in herself and her siblings. Sweet, simple and often funny.

Product Details

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.75(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Pandl’s Restaurant in Milwaukee is a Midwest tradition: What makes Julia Pandl’s memoir shine is not only its charm and humor but also its insider’s look at how high standards and love equals extraordinary food. In Memoir of the Sunday Brunch, she cooks up a delicious story that deserves a wide audience. We thank her for the memories.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

“I don’t use the word ‘charming’ often, but that is the word that kept coming to mind as I read Julia Pandl’s memoir. Funny, sad, sweet, inspiring, every page wrapped in genuine emotion and sharp-eyed wisdom, Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is the work of a writer we’ll want to watch.”
—Keith Dixon, author of Cooking for Gracie and The Art of Losing

Meet the Author

Julia Pandl was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she still lives and works. Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is her first book. When she is not writing and otherwise working, she moonlights as a stand-up comic. Author website: www.juliapandl.com.

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Memoir of the Sunday Brunch 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
arlenadean More than 1 year ago
Review: "Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" by Julia Pandl was a simple well written memoir that I did enjoy. I found myself laughing at a lots of this funny and heart warming read. This is just a wonderfully written personal memoir of Julia Pandl's family growing up in the Pandl Family Restaurant business. This memoir pays great attention to this eccentric father, George. Julia was the youngest of nine children which left her with her parents ageing just when she is getting more involved more with the family restaurant endeavors. Yes, there was some dysfunctions going on, but isn't in present in most families? It was good to see how this family was able to come together when certain situations were presented. You will find this wonderful novel sometimes not so happy, then down right hilarious and always full of love that played out with great affection. You will find this a personal memoir that will bring out all of the quirks out in this family. I did like the way this author did a part 1 and part 2 of this memoir .Not wanting to tell to much more I would definitely suggest that you pick up this excellent read "Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" to see what all this is about in its touching tribute of Julia's wonderful parents. If you are looking for a good novel that is full of laughter,some crying and maybe just find yourself smiling....you have come to the right novel and I would recommend "Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" to you as a excellent read.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Julia Pandl is the youngest of nine children born to George and Teresa Pandl. Her dad owned a restaurant in Milwaukee, and every Sunday each child was expected to work the famous Sunday brunch. She recounts this life in Memoir of the Sunday Brunch. I have to tell you how much I loved this book! You not only get an insider's look at what a tough life the restaurant business is, you also get a wonderful, honest look at life in a big Catholic Midwestern family, and Julia's relationship with her tough, loving father is so beautifully written it will make you want to give your own dad a hug. George not only loved food, family and the church, he was a voracious reader. He even read during mass, though they were always books with a religious theme, to be fair. He was a huge presence in his family's life, and Julia loved him very much, even though he was always trying to feed food to his family that was leftover from the restaurant- as in leftover from months and years ago. When she was fourteen, she asked if she could drive them to the restaurant, and George let her drive a little bit further each week, until soon she was driving them all the way. These rides cemented their close, loving relationship. Working the brunch was not easy. Julia's first job was picking up trash in the parking lot. Next she moved onto peeling shrimp, and soon her job was making the pancakes for the line. As someone who owned a fast food restaurant, this section of the book had a special appeal for me. As a Catholic, I also enjoyed reading about how the Pandl's faith informed their life. Terry had religious statues, rosaries and funeral cards all over the house. Terry is not a big part of the book until she loses a foot to diabetes. Julia's relationship with her mother seems to deepen as she helps to care for her aging parents. The end of the book is very moving. Julia and her siblings must deal with her parents' serious illnesses, and these last few chapters are something that will make everyone reflect upon their own parents, as this is something that most of us will face at some point in our lives. There is so much to love here in Memoir of the Sunday Brunch. Julia Pandl writes from the heart; with all the fun, the joy, the fighting, the hard work, the love, and the sorrow that living in a big family brings. This is one of my favorite book of this year, and it makes me appreciate my family even more.
LisaLickel0 More than 1 year ago
More of a personal journey and family biography. The author shares her restaurateur family's life story during her coming of age years as the last of nine children, all raised in the shadow of Pandl's restaurant in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area during the eighties. Nice look back, interesting family. Good for those who were familiar with the restaurant and the others mentioned along the Lake Michigan coast.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poignant family stories told with various emotions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even if you never ate at the restaurant or know the Pandl family, Julie's writing style is fabulous. She is hilarious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having eaten in their restaurant I was curious about the family and was not disappointed. Julia tells a great story and I love her sense of humor.