Friday, May 29, 2015

Bread and Butter

Bread & Butter
Michelle Wildgen

Bread and Butter

Genre: Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads): Kitchen Confidential meets Three Junes in this mouthwatering novel about three brothers who run competing restaurants, and the culinary snobbery, staff stealing, and secret affairs that unfold in the back of the house.

Britt and Leo have spent ten years running Winesap, the best restaurant in their small Pennsylvania town. They cater to their loyal customers; they don't sleep with the staff; and business is good, even if their temperamental pastry chef is bored with making the same chocolate cake night after night. But when their younger brother, Harry, opens his own restaurant—a hip little joint serving an aggressive lamb neck dish—Britt and Leo find their own restaurant thrown off-kilter. Britt becomes fascinated by a customer who arrives night after night, each time with a different dinner companion. Their pastry chef, Hector, quits, only to reappear at Harry's restaurant. And Leo finds himself falling for his executive chef-tempted to break the cardinal rule of restaurant ownership. Filled with hilarious insider detail—the one-upmanship of staff meals before the shift begins, the rivalry between bartender and hostess, the seedy bar where waitstaff and chefs go to drink off their workday—Bread and Butter is both an incisive novel of family and a gleeful romp through the inner workings of restaurant kitchens.

Review: This book was a little strange and didn't really work for me.  The author clearly knows her food and writes about it in amazing detail.  But I thought the food was too complicated and pretentious for the small town setting, and too unusual for me to really enjoy reading about.  The relationships between the brothers could have been fleshed out a little more, and the female characters were pretty much devoid of personality.   And the main drama in the book, Harry's nervous breakdown, didn't really hold my attention or get resolved in any satisfactory way.  So while this book sounded like it would be right up my alley, it didn't live up to my expectations. 

Rating: 2.5 stars

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