Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll

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An all-access history of the evolution of the American restaurant chef.

Told largely in the words of the people who lived it, as captured in more than two hundred author interviews with writers like Ruch Reichl and legends like Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters, Jonathan Waxman, and Barry Wine, Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll treats readers to an unparalleled 360-degree re-creation of the business and the times through the perspectives not only of the groundbreaking chefs but also of line cooks, front-of-house personnel, investors, and critics who had front-row seats to this extraordinary transformation.

Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll transports readers back in time to witness the remarkable evolution of the American restaurant chef in the 1970s and '80s. Taking a rare, coast-to-coast perspective, Andrew Friedman goes inside Chez Panisse and other Bay Area restaurants to show how the politically charged backdrop of Berkeley helped draw new talent to the profession; into the historically underrated community of Los Angeles chefs, including a young Wolfgang Puck and future stars such as Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, and Nancy Silverton; and into the clash of cultures between established French chefs in New York City and the American game changers behind The Quilted Giraffe, The River Cafe, and other East Coast establishments. We also meet young cooks of the time such as Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse who went on to become household names in their own right. Along the way, the chefs, their struggles, their cliques, and, of course, their restaurants are brought to life in vivid detail.

You weren’t pantry and sous chef and all this stuff,” says Tom Carlin who started at The Quilted Giraffe in the mid-1980s. “We were all ‘associate chefs.’ And [Barry] was open to hearing what everyone wanted to do and selecting different ideas.

Hear more about Tom Carlin’s story in the kitchens of some great American Restaurants. Pick up a copy of the book and dive into this delicious read!


NOTE: As we prepared this post the culinary + worldwide community was shocked and saddened to learn the news of the untimely passing of Anthony Bourdain. A few recollections of his culinary journey are on pages 225, 225, 385, 420–21. His voice and honesty will be truly missed.