For many young people, being a chef is as compelling a dream as being a rock star or professional athlete. Read more...
For many young people, being a chef is as compelling a dream as being a rock star or professional athlete. Skill and creativity in the kitchen are more profitable than ever before, as cooks scramble to reach the top--but talent isn't enough. Today's chef needs the business savvy of a high-risk entrepreneur, determination, and big dose of luck. The heart of Generation Chef is the story of Jonah Miller, who at age twenty-four attempts to fulfill a lifelong dream by opening the Basque restaurant Huertas in New York City, still the high-stakes center of the restaurant business for an ambitious young chef. Miller, a rising star who has been named to the 30-Under-30 list of both Forbes and Zagat, quits his job as a sous chef, creates a business plan, lines up investors, leases a space, hires a staff, and gets ready to put his reputation and his future on the line. Journalist and food writer Karen Stabiner takes us inside Huertas's roller-coaster first year, but also provides insight into the challenging world a young chef faces today--the intense financial pressures, the overcrowded field of aspiring cooks, and the impact of reviews and social media, which can dictate who survives. A fast-paced narrative filled with suspense, Generation Chef is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at drive and passion in one of today's hottest professions.
The rise of a New York chef
In Generation Chef: Risking It All for a New American Dream, journalist and food writer Karen Stabiner (Family Table) tells the captivating tale of the journey taken by rising chef Jonah Miller as he fulfills his childhood dream of opening a restaurant, the Spanish-themed Huertas, in the East Village section of New York City. Her behind-the-scenes view chronicles the restaurant’s debut year, providing a vivid look at the challenges faced by Miller and his team. Although it is Miller’s story, Stabiner provides insight from the different players involved, delivering a detailed, richly layered narrative. Their highs and lows feel intensely real, from a game-changing New York Times review to a delayed opening and the initial rejection of a full liquor license.
Like many young chefs, Miller is an ambitious, passionate perfectionist. He “had a hunch that the city needed the kind of Spanish food he wanted to make” and wasn’t prepared to contemplate getting “lost in the shuffle” of the overflowing world of celebrity chefs. Stabiner meticulously chronicles his growth and maturity as he secures the restaurant’s necessary funding, navigates building codes and liquor license approvals, tackles management duties and personnel issues and gives in to customers’ odd culinary requests that alter the whole structure of his dishes. Smart and frugal in his launch planning, he helped cut tile for the kitchen and enlisted friends to help stain the dining room wainscoting. And in the typical French culinary method, he was determined to incorporate a “no-waste” policy into his menu, enjoying the “challenge of transforming what another chef might throw out.”
Generation Chef will fascinate those eager to devour everything food-related. Even foodies who are well aware of the difficulties faced by any restaurant starting out will find Stabiner’s inside peek into this fast-paced, often cutthroat world enlightening.