Don’t Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World’s Greatest Chefs

Don't Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs

Don't Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs Rating:
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Culinary Catastrophes from the World’s Greatest Chefs

A hilarious and heartening collection of kitchen disasters.

In this raucous new collection, over forty of the world’s greatest chefs relate outrageous true tales from their kitchens. From hiring a blind line cook to flooding the room with meringue to being terrorized by a French owl, these behind-the-scenes accounts are as wildly entertaining as they are revealing. A delicious reminder that even the chefs we most admire aren’t always perfect, Don't Try This at Home is a must-have for anyone who loves food or is fascinated by those who masterfully prepare it.

Ferrán Adrià on when lobsters go bad
José Andrés on asking for help
Dan Barber on talking to your fish
Mario Batali on the perfect risotto
Michelle Bernstein on the many uses of chocolate
Heston Blumenthal on the angriest maître d’ in England
Daniel Boulud on one thousand bowls of soup
Anthony Bourdain on beating up the customers
Jimmy Bradley on drinking games
Scott Bryan on too many salamanders
David Burke on hiding the laundry
Samuel Clark on cooking for royalty
Tom Colicchio on sneaking through customs
Scott Conant on the persistence of eels
Tamasin Day-Lewis on how not to store a pheasant
Tom Douglas on the strange destiny of snowstorms
Wylie Dufresne on birds of prey
Jonathan Eismann on the healing powers of electricity
Claudia Fleming on runaway meringue
Gabrielle Hamilton on second sight
Fergus Henderson on the far from ordinary
Paul Kahan on caller ID
Hubert Keller on tempting fate
Giorgio Locatelli on the art of the French ambush
Michael Lomonaco on feeding Pavarotti
Pino Luongo on summer school in the Hamptons
Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger on getting away with it
Sara Moulton on how to destroy a food processor
Tamara Murphy on the misuses of foie gras
Cindy Pawlcyn on eating at home
Neil Perry on unexpected showers
Michel Richard on how to rescue a wayward cake
Eric Ripert on getting to the kitchen
Alain Sailhac on salty coffee and solitary confinement
Marcus Samuelsson on the languages of gelatin
Bill Telepan on the Fish Guys versus the Meat Guys
Laurent Tourondel on rib-eye rush hour
Tom Valenti on the grounds for revenge
Norman Van Aken on Key West hi-jinks
Geoffrey Zakarian on a license to eat dangerously


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  1. Sarah Stone says


    This book was so funny for we culinary types. I really enjoyed reading it, and learning new and funny things about some of my favorite chefs.

  2. Madelyn Pryor says


    This is a must have for home cooks, would-be chefs, and people who just love the kitchen. In this humorous collection of stories, many chefs that have no reached the pinnacle of their careers share tales and snippets of life that include moments they were less than perfect. How many of us have ruined a dish by putting too much salt in the pot, or burned a turkey (or served one raw)? Turns out those sins are mild compared to some of the things these gods of food have done.

    So many of the stories are just funny, you’ll find yourself laughing out loud.

    Sometimes when you watch cooking shows, or eat at a 5 star restaurant, it’s easy to be intimidated by Chefs that seem to have perfected this craft. But this book will remind you that they have their off days as well, and that the gods of cuisine are just as human as the rest of us.

    Highly recommended for everyone. Even if you don’t cook, or aren’t a foodie, this book is just funny.

  3. Busy Mom says


    I don’t watch cooking shows on TV nor do I read gourmet cooking magazines or anything like that ~~ the names of the chefs in here don’t mean anything to me. It’s not personal. I just don’t have the time nor the interest to read about them nor do I travel to eat at fine restaurants … But this book is hilarious. It is one of the few books where I am lost in the giggles over the mishaps in the kitchens. And I love it.

    I do cook and am a fairly good cook ~~ though not as good as these professionals are. I have messed up dishes often and have my embarrassing moments ~~ but not on the grand scale as these chefs. And I love the stories ~~ the wedding cake mishaps are my favorite ~~ especially Michel Richard’s “Alibi” ~~ that one literally brought tears to my eyes. I can just see it all. Another favorite is “Our Big Brake” by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. One that brought sighs to my heart is Paul Kahan’s “(Not) Ready for My Close-up.” Another one is Tamara Murphy’s “For The Birds” ~~ I just lost myself in the giggles over a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches (Ah. A dream to come true would be having a chef cooking for me!).

    To be honest, I don’t think there’s a story in there that I didn’t like. They all are funny and very human ~~ it brings a touch of humanness to the world’s greatest cooks. And since I like to cook, I can definitely relate to their stories. And I love all of their stories. I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun reading a book!!

    However, don’t read this while you’re hungry ~~ some of their descriptions of food will make you hungry and if you’re like me, that doesn’t have a modern up to date kitchen or pantry ~~ you’ll find yourself raiding something wishing that you can finally taste what they are famous for making. A Ding Dong just won’t do it. But maybe it will spur you to become a better chef in your own kitchen ~~ knowing that the greats are just as human as we all are.


  4. Rating

    This book will make you chuckle!

    This book is broken down into short chapters, — each chapter written by a famous Chef and his/her experiences in kitchen mishaps.

    Fun read!

  5. P. Hyder says


    This is such an entertaining (and informative!!) book. I love to see how creative people cope with seemingly terminal disasters. There are great lessons for all of us, cooks or not, but I did learn a lot about food preparation, food storage, and most of all relationships–those that make a kitchen work and those that don’t. I found it a really good read.

  6. R. Styma says


    This book has a bunch of really funny “laugh out loud” stories. Each story is only 4 or 6 pages long so it is ideal when you don’t have a long stretch of time to sit and read. Good for the attention span impaired too. If you are considering going into the restraunt business or eat at restraunts, there are a lot of insights into what goes on on the other side of the swinging doors to the kitchen.

  7. Brooklyn reader says


    I read the excerpts from this collection in the New York Times Magazine and went and bought the book, I was so delighted with them. Dan Barber’s piece about working for David Bouley and learning to “talk to the fish” was hilarious; It had never occurred to me that you have to listen to the food cooking as much as taste, see and smell it, to know if it’s cooked properly. I was surprised to read all these readers comments slamming Gabrielle Hamilton’s piece; I actually thought she showed uncustomary sensitivity for a chef, even letting this candidate through the door when he hadn’t been straight up with her about being blind. Marcus Samuelson’s piece about being a black man in a white kitchen was powerful and refreshingly thoughtful in contrast to the raucousness of many of the other pieces. I plan to give this to all my friends who devoured KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, it has the same exuberance and behind the scenes details that bring down to earth what always looks so safe and easy on those cooking shows.

  8. Michael H. Jones says


    I am a professional chef of nearly forty years standing. Reading this was like reading my autobiography. The stories captured the essence of the profession’s dark side: awful grinding labor, maniacally insane co-workers, impossible demands of customers…..and the short lived and highly addictive secret joys of overcoming all that to create a kind of elusive art.

    I would make this mandatory reading for all aspiring chefs…..better for them than Escoffier!

  9. Rating

    If you have ever worked in a restaurant you know how unpredicable & fun it can be! This book was entertaining and hilarious, some stories made me laugh at loud. What I enjoyed most was knowing that even some of these 5-star folks could have major mishaps in the kitchen. Great fun to read. And makes a great gift for a novice chef.

  10. asean boricua says


    This is one of the funniest books, I have read. I have lent it to many friends and we have had a good laugh at many of the stories. It’s nice to see that professional chefs can also have disasters in the kitchen.