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“The Hunger”

Summer is the season for beaches, and for me—well, before I had the baby at least—that also meant it was the season for reading. I’d sit in my chair on one of the rocky beaches of Greenport, and watch as the sun moved from high and hazy in the sky to low and large on the horizon, turning pages with dips in the cool waters between chapters. It was heaven.

Now, I haven’t had much spare time for reading these days, being that any extra time is allocated for sleeping, but I have miraculously managed to read one book so far this summer, and it’s a testament to the addictive nature of the story and the terrific writing that I actually made time to read it. That book is “The Hunger,” a memoir by Waverly Inn chef John DeLucie (co-written with Ken Carlton) that tells the tale of his career change and life from potato-salad maker in chief at Dean & Deluca (on his first day he actually forgot to cook the potatoes before mixing the salad together) to chef at the hottest A-List restaurant in New York City, if not the country.

It’s not like this is Steinbeck or Hemmingway, but it’s a fun, popcorn read, sort of like Kitchen Confidential, so if you were into that, you’ll love this. The book switches back and forth from the present day celebrity madness at the Waverly Inn, to DeLucie’s humble Long Island beginnings, as a son of musician who fell in love and married his high school girlfriend. It takes you through the ups and downs of two marriages, his career change from “executive recruiter” (what DeLucie describes as taking someone from one bad job to another, to stints at kitchens like Arizona 206 (where he almost poisoned Mike Nichols), and many, many more adventures leading up to a bike ride one morning, where he passed a sign saying “FOR RENT” on a building known as The Waverly Inn.

The Hunger is kind of dream-come-true story of a man with genuine passion for cooking, who worked his way up the line to become a chef with customers like Paltrow and DeNiro. (The story of meeting “Bobby” is pretty funny.) DeLucie is a great storyteller, and the book is a total page-turner. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (well, I cried because I cry at everything these days), and you’ll come away from it feeling like you made it through the kitchen trenches, too. So pack up your towel, sunscreen, jug of iced tea, and The Hunger. And have a great day at the beach.

The Hunger, published by Harper Collins, is $23.99 and is available everywhere books are sold.

 


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