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)