Gabrielle Hamilton is the head chef and owner of the popular New York restaurant Prune. The subtitle of this book is "the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef." Hamilton learned much of her cooking from observing her Mother and Father. Her Mother, a French ballet dancer, had to use all parts of whatever she was cooking to make everything last. Hamilton's Father was an artist and sometime theater producer. But the family of five children never had a lot of money. They tried to live off the land as much as possible and her Father even taught Hamilton how to kill a chicken.
You can read a lot of love and admiration in her stories of her parents when she was young. When Hamilton was 13, her parents divorced and everything seemed to fall apart in her life. So much so, that her parents forgot who was watching the youngest children and left them on their own for four weeks at their rural house. The children had been taught a lot of self-sufficiency. It even gave Hamilton enough confidence to walk to town and present herself as a 16 year old waitress for a local restaurant. This sets up a pattern for her life as she confidently starts to reinvent herself as older and more experienced at many different jobs--almost always in the food industry. The catering chapters alone will make you re-think any catering you are needing or wanting.
This is a memoir more than a foodie book. There are some deeper issues in this book that Hamilton presents than just becoming a chef. There is some bitterness, arguably understandable, considering she was basically abandoned by her family at 13 years old. As she grows older, Hamilton makes some interesting choices in her life, she tries to reconnect with her family, and finds in her travels to Italy that food is what can bring people together.