Burn the Ice: The American Culinary Revolution and Its End

Penguin Pr. Jul. 2019. 384p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780525558026. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525558033. COOKING
James Beard Award–winning food journalist Alexander provides an ambitious, frenetic chronicle of what he deems the American culinary food revolution and its end. Beginning in 2006, Alexander credits Portland, OR—specifically chef Gabriel Rucker and his restaurant Le Pigeon—for prompting the rise of local, influential, casual fine-dining restaurants. The “Portlandization of American dining,” he asserts, aided by the rise of social media and food blogs such as Eater and Serious Eats, helped make food a national obsession, accelerating food tourism, altering eating habits, and widening horizons, as craft cocktails became commonplace and warehouse clubs started selling sushi rice. Also profiled are chefs such as Tom Colicchio of New York’s Gramercy Tavern; André Prince Jeffries, known for her specialty of Nashville’s hot chicken; and Carolina barbecue pitmaster Rodney Scott. Alexander features both success stories and cautionary tales from food pioneers and innovators, local restaurant owners, activists, and famous chefs in a collection that can appear somewhat random and disconnected, but the author’s unbridled enthusiasm and entertaining behind-the-scenes insights will likely appeal to loyal fans of food journalism.
VERDICT A solid selection for medium and large collections where food memoirs fly off the shelves.

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