Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a (Reluctant) Chef

Reviews of Gabrielle Hamilton’s bare-bones memoir are splayed across newspapers and magazines, much the way the (reluctant) chef splays her checkered—read: relatable, human—past across the book’s 291 pages. “Triple B”’s best-seller status is no surprise. Not only is the public perpetually hungry for a gritty memoir, but chefs seem to agree that Hamilton hit the tone and spirit of behind-the-burner struggle right on its gnarled head. Emotionally naked, tattooed with kitchen burns and knife scars, Hamilton leaves no stone or past indiscretion unturned on her journey to chefdom. She follows the meandering and unlikely course from a bucolic and bizarre childhood in Eastern Pennsylvania to her first haphazard and short-lived stint in the front of house, and soon after to the kitchen. “And that, just like that, is how a whole life can start,” the Prune chef recalls of her first foray into the back of house. As much storyteller as chef—her other vocational track was writing—Hamilton shares herself with an almost startling openness. What results is not culinary, per se, but a cook’s book and a very human story in the end. Whether or not the public continues to immerse itself in the chef subculture of cuisine, Hamilton succeeds here in proving that a chef isn’t superhuman, subhuman, or even a rock star—even if she can party like one. She’s just a girl who got a job, and kept it.