"Wife of the Chef" is more bitter than sweet

Courtney Febbroriello fires her sister, dislikes a job applicant because he dresses too nicely, and lies to get a friend into an event at the James Beard House.

In other words, Wife of the Chef is not a happy read. Which is a shame. Because I picked up Wife of the Chef hoping to get some behind-the-scenes insight. But all I got was some behind-the-scene disappointments. Quite a lot, in fact.

Wife of the Chef bills itself as "The true story of a restaurant and romance." But, while it does take place in a restaurant, it is not at all romantic.

Full of duty and obligation and disappointment. But not romance. Not at all.

The wife
Courtney, the wife, married her husband because, among other reasons, they had shared "goals." She never mentions love.

She also never eats her husband's food. She says it is because she is a vegetarian. Are we to suppose the chef can't cook vegetables?

And she moans that he gets all the glory, she gets all the work. Repeatedly.

The cook
According to Courtney, Chris, her husband, is a forgetful slob. Dumps a cup of coffee on his pants? He doesn't change 'em. Wash a glass with leftover orange juice in it? Why fuss about it? Remember to pass on telephone messages? Late, if at all.

And as for his success, according to Courtney, it is due entirely to Courtney's dedication as his faithful publicist and secretary and manager. Without her, he wouldn't have any fame. The fame she completely resents.

The restaurant
She works hard. Very hard. And long, long, long. So long, in fact, that she tells us she cannot imagine what other people, those with 9:00 - 5:00 jobs, do with all their spare time. So long and hard she never makes her own bed, rolls her change, cleans her floors.

But she does enjoy chewing the fat with the waitstaff after hours. Predominately about the customers.

The customers
Some she likes. Some she does not. But between liking and loathing them, she always finds time to comment on hairstyles and jewellery choices and other items not keeping to her standards.

And of all the customers she loathes, the customers that top the list are foodies. The customers, in other words, who are fascinated by food. This could be a problem in the restaurant industry, me'thinks.

The bottom line
It was an interesting read. But, ultimately, one that offered far too little insight into the inner workings of a restaurant and far too much insight into the inner life of Courtney. Which is why I say it is a shame. Because I suspect this bitter, bitter woman is probably far nicer in person than she comes across on paper. At least, I can only hope this is true.

And what does her father-in-law think?
Last night I happened to pick up Baking Boot Camp: Five Days of Basic Training at The Culinary Institute of America. One of the key instructors in this book was Chef Paul. Apparently, the wife of one of Chef Paul's sons, "... wrote Wife a Chef, of which Chef Paul disapproved."

Small world, indeed.