The Dish: The Lives and Labor Behind One Plate of Food

HarperAudio. Oct. 2023. 7:03 hrs. ISBN 9780063136007. $21.99. COOKING
Using a single entrée from Chicago’s upscale Wherewithall restaurant as an example, food writer Friedman (Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll) describes in detail all the moving parts that make fine dining possible. Chef, restaurateur, and television host Michael Lomonaco narrates Friedman’s account with aplomb, beginning with his interviews with the restaurant’s dining room and kitchen staff, who share how they got started in the business. Friedman dissects fine dining in its entirety, from the intricacies of seating patrons and making their experience pleasant to the work of each position in the kitchen. He visits the farms that provide the ingredients and follows the preparation of meat from slaughter to table. Friedman rides with the food supplier, marveling at the flexible decision-making required to move goods from farm to restaurant. He captures the tension and teamwork of the working restaurant on a busy night and highlights the crucial positions of the dishwashers and polishers in presenting the final product. Lomonaco’s well-paced and engaging narration sobers as he notes the transient nature of restaurants and their staff, especially in the face of disasters, including pandemics and failing infrastructure.
VERDICT A captivating listen for foodies, restaurant professionals, and restaurant hopefuls.
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