Leonardo Lucarelli translated from the Italian by Danielle Rossi, by Lorena Rossi Gori


The Education of an Italian Chef

Publication Date: Dec 06, 2016

304 pp


List Price US $24.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-791-8


List Price US $12.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-792-5

With the wit and pace of Anthony Bourdain, Italian chef and anthropologist Leonardo Lucarelli sketches the exhilarating life behind the closed doors of restaurants, and the unlikely work ethics of the kitchen

Even in Italy, star restaurants and celebrity chefs have become parts of the landscape. In reality, though, the restaurant industry is as tough, cutthroat, and unforgiving as anywhere else in the world—sometimes colluding with the shady world of organized crime. From the deep underbelly of Italian cuisine comes the powerful voice of Leonardo Lucarelli, a professional chef who for almost two decades has been roaming Italy opening restaurants, training underpaid or just hopelessly incompetent sous-chefs, courting waitresses, riding high on drugs to work long hours, and cursing a culinary passion he inherited as a teenager from his hippie father. In his debut Mincemeat: The Education of an Italian Chef, Lucarelli teaches us that even among rogues and misfits, there is a moral code in the kitchen that must always be upheld above all else.

Excerpt from Mincemeat

The walls are all far away except for the one opposite me. I’m wearing whites at least two sizes too big, instead of the usual blacks with my name embroidered in dark red over the left pocket: Leonardo Lucarelli. There’s nothing written on this uniform, I’m only a cook in a vast, anonymous commercial kitchen, puffing and panting, getting frazzled and yelling. All around me people are rushing about, chatting away in a thick dialect. I don’t understand a word. I know that I’m in a kitchen in Thiene, in the Veneto region of Italy. The restaurant is packed. Orders are coming in thick and fast from the machine in front of me and at such a rate that I can barely tear off the tickets and pin them up. But they’re getting all crumpled, falling to the ground like confetti, and in the end there’s just a long strip of orders that I should already have prepped and placed on the pass, yelling “Go!” Instead, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s unbearably hot. The kitchen is too big. The white uniform is too loose. The orders are coming in too fast. Everything is wrong. I’m in the wrong place. I don’t like these people and they don’t like me, the thing is that I can’t move my hands, get into the rhythm, utter a word. The chef arrives (I’m trying to remember—what’s his name?) and tells me what to do but I don’t understand him. I should know what to do. But I don’t, and I can’t understand what he’s saying. So I move out of his way. I see hands opening and closing the oven, drizzling reductions and sauces over dishes. I see a perfect assembly line configuration, timers going off, crockery clinking, a full pass, servers sprinting.

“If you’re in the mood for an internationally acclaimed, intellectually captivating memoir with an almost Conradian atmosphere, you’ll be served well by maverick chef Leonardo Lucarelli’s Mincemeat.” –ELLE

“Wise and often very funny, the book offers sumptuous glimpses into human foibles and provides readers an unforgettable taste of the unabashedly sordid realities that underlie the high-gloss world of Italian cuisine. A wickedly candid memoir.” —Kirkus Reviews

“If you love food but not cooking, satisfy your appetite with Mincemeat: the Education of an Italian Chef, Leonardo Lucarelli’s kitchen confidential from bel paese.” —Family Circle Magazine

“[An] almost Conradian atmosphere . . . The best Italian novel of the year.” —Corriere della Sera