The Hunger: A Memoir of an Accidental Chef

Overview

An inspiring, heartwarming memoir from the unlikely chef of The Waverly Inn

The Hunger is an insider's take on the crazy life that is the restaurant business, as well as an underdog's tale of survival. Dissatisfied with his corporate career, John DeLucie followed his passion for food to a single cooking class at the New School (where he was named Most Likely to Succeed). He launched his first food gig at SoHo's famed Dean & DeLuca, then ...

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The Hunger: A Story of Food, Desire, and Ambition

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Overview

An inspiring, heartwarming memoir from the unlikely chef of The Waverly Inn

The Hunger is an insider's take on the crazy life that is the restaurant business, as well as an underdog's tale of survival. Dissatisfied with his corporate career, John DeLucie followed his passion for food to a single cooking class at the New School (where he was named Most Likely to Succeed). He launched his first food gig at SoHo's famed Dean & DeLuca, then cooked at several New York–area restaurants.

For fifteen years, DeLucie worked his way through major challenges, while accepting both successes and failures, until finally opening his restaurant The Waverly Inn—the Greenwich Village sensation. He now shares secrets about the behind-the-scenes details from the tiny kitchen, the front of the house, and outside the restaurant, where the paparazzi gather. Also included are the stories behind some of DeLucie's signature recipes.

The Hunger is a story about food and desire and appetite—an intimate window onto a chaotic world.

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Editorial Reviews

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As the chef of the ultrachic Waverly Inn in Greenwich Village, DeLucie surveys his domain and thinks, "Everybody here is somebody." For eight nonstop hours every night, he stands in the tiny 120° space that serves as a kitchen, expediting hundreds of mouth-watering meals served to diners who somehow managed to secure a reservation. DeLucie is having the time of his life, and his story is filled with kitchen drama, sizzling love affairs, and even a few recipes. From his humble beginnings at a hated office job, DeLucie enrolled in a culinary course, then landed a job at Dean & DeLuca, where he suffered his first "real" cooking lessons. From there, he sautés his way through 12-hour shifts in Manhattan eateries, perfecting \ his skills, rubbing shoulders with both the famous and the anonymous kitchen staff who work alongside him in barely controlled chaos. \

\ "You have to be hungry to get ahead in this business," he writes. And DeLucie's hunger stays with him despite the hard knocks. At the Waverly Inn, he partners with Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair magazine, and comes into his own, marrying his down-home roots with haute cuisine, to create dishes like macaroni and cheese with white truffle shavings. The price? Fifty-five dollars. Feeding the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Salman Rushdie, Robert De Niro, and J-Lo, DeLucie serves up his life and loves without apology, and the result is a modern-day movable feast. (Summer 2009 Selection)
Bon Appetit Magazine Editors
"This dishy read is an insider’s look at what it takes to stay on top of the high-pressure, high-profile culinary world and what really goes on in the kitchen."
Bon Appétit
“This dishy read is an insider’s look at what it takes to stay on top of the high-pressure, high-profile culinary world and what really goes on in the kitchen.”
Bon Appetit
“This dishy read is an insider’s look at what it takes to stay on top of the high-pressure, high-profile culinary world and what really goes on in the kitchen.”
New York Post
“It’s the rare behind-the-scenes glimpses into the Waverly’s clubby quarters that make this book different from other chef memoirs and their typically debauched tales.”
Salman Rushdie
John DeLucie has given me so much pleasure at The Waverly Inn, and now he has written this delightful book, as well! I recommend it to anyone interested in good food—and good stories.”
Jay McInerney
“Hot grease, sharp knives, infidelity, and white truffles. . . . The Hunger has all the right ingredients. John DeLucie has lived the life and now he tells the tale. The Hunger is the best memoir by a chef since Kitchen Confidential.
Anthony Bourdain
“THE HUNGER entertainingly describes one of those wonderfully unlikely bizarro career arcs that can only happen in the restaurant business...A terrific first person tour of the best and worst of the back-of-the-house New York restaurant world with an all-too rare happy ending.”
Bobby Flay
“In a bowl, stir gently, one part Hard Work, two cups True Grit, and a dash of Restaurant Glamour, and you get the perfect recipe for Chef John Delucie’s everyday life... I couldn’t put it down.”
New York Post
“It’s the rare behind-the-scenes glimpses into the Waverly’s clubby quarters that make this book different from other chef memoirs and their typically debauched tales.”
Bon Appétit
“This dishy read is an insider’s look at what it takes to stay on top of the high-pressure, high-profile culinary world and what really goes on in the kitchen.”
Publishers Weekly
With a cooking class and a Dean & Deluca's prep gig under his belt, DeLucie left behind a comfortable finance career for the cutthroat culinary industry of 1990s New York City. Eventually, he'd become a celebrity chef with his own destination restaurant co-owned by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. Beyond talent and drive, DeLucie had the requisite outsized ego to make it in the NYC culinary scene, persevering despite the staggering number of failures (some almost immediately, and sometimes on the word of a single reviewer) he helps open. Readers may find DeLucie's self-important prologue hard to stomach, but if they're willing to humor him they'll find a genuinely good story as well as a survey of celebrity eating habits, drawn from his popular Greenwich Village restaurant The Waverly Inn (after his visit, Karl Lagerfeld sent out for "just our roasted carrots...every day for a week"). When he puts aside his ego, DeLucie provides an excellent balance of personal details and authentic backstage culinary tales. For all the name-dropping, DeLucie's is a satisfying triumph of hard work and sticktoitness.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.\
Kirkus Reviews
The executive chef of New York City's posh Waverly Inn recounts his personal and professional trials and tribulations. Co-founded by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, the Waverly is best known for its celebrity clientele and the throngs of paparazzi lurking outside the door. But the food cooked under DeLucie's watchful eye holds its own against the restaurant's often picky patrons. From the Inn's famous hamburger and trademark truffle-coated mac and cheese, to the roasted carrots ordered daily by Karl Lagerfeld, DeLucie's experience has been a study in improvisation and adaptation, much like his culinary education. The author was a self-described corporate drone when, at the age of 30, he decided to follow his Italian heritage into the kitchen. After taking cooking classes at the New School, DeLucie started preparing food at Dean & DeLuca and moved from restaurant to restaurant, rising from a lowly crouton-maker to poissonnerie, sous chef and finally executive chef. Along the way, his personal life often paid the price for the hectic schedule his culinary life demanded. His portraits of the unique personalities that inhabit the kitchen are delightful, and his emphasis on the teamwork and leadership required to run a successful restaurant is inspiring. Though there are celebrity-driven anecdotes sprinkled throughout the text, the story never becomes gossipy. Unfortunately, DeLucie's own distinct palate and culinary inspirations sometimes get lost in the narrative-to its detriment, as his descriptions of the food are the most interesting passages. A colorful vignette of New York's cutthroat culinary scene by a qualified insider. New York regional author appearances. Agent: Rebecca Oliver,Richard Abate/Endeavor\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061579295
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/4/2010
  • Pages: 233
  • Sales rank: 903,638
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John DeLucie is the Executive Chef/Partner of The Waverly Inn, which he opened to great critical acclaim in 2007 in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. DeLucie has been featured in New York magazine, Town & Country, the New York Times, and on television on the The Martha Stewart Show and CBS's The Early Show Saturday Edition. He lives in New York.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

Introduction Graydon Carter xv

Prologue 1

Office Space 7

Happy All the Time 12

Ingredients 19

Was It Him? 25

Trial by Salad 30

Crossing Bloomingdale's 37

South by Southwest 46

Benediction 53

Twelve Smoking Ducks 58

Blue Chili 66

Gold Leaf and Turbot 71

The Waverly Juice 78

The Brothers Calamari 86

Waltz for PJ 92

Reluctant Patty 100

Running from Stilettos 107

Angst Hampton 112

Food and Marriage 120

The Conversation 126

Park Babylon South 131

French Roast 140

Odd Pairing 147

Under New Management 154

More Butter 161

Reduction 169

Piatti Secondi 178

The Man 185

Mac & Jeez! 195

Unhinged 202

Adrenaline Junkie 207

Coda 217

Epilogue 223

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