Gabrielle Hamilton has a hard time admitting she wrote a memoir. “It’s like admitting you wrote a power love ballad,” she told me. But her new book, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House, 2011), has been garnering strong reviews, a blurb from Anthony Bourdain calling it “Simply the best memoir by a chef ever,” and debut sales that landed it at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Just as Gabrielle did not set out to open a groundbreaking restaurant when she signed a lease for a decrepit property on East First Street in Manhattan and called it Prune 11 years ago, she did not intend to write a book that was so much about love, chance and fractured families. It was supposed to be “more food-centric and light-hearted.” Like Prune, which was a hit from the word go and, with what has come to be known as “nose-t0-tail” cooking, established her as an important chef, the book is establishing Gabrielle as a noteworthy writer.
In this, the debut interview of New Books in Food, Gabrielle, who spent years working for catering companies, talks about why you should always avoid hor d’oeuvres that are served in shot glasses, and why almost all restaurants in Brooklyn New York are basically awful — “I personally cannot be called ‘dude’ or ‘bro’ by my server.” She also discusses her literary process — and having sex inside her restaurant.