Summary and book reviews of Hungry by Jeff Gordinier

Hungry

Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World

by Jeff Gordinier

Hungry by Jeff Gordinier X
Hungry by Jeff Gordinier
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2019, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2020, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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About this Book

Book Summary

A food critic chronicles four years spent traveling with renowned chef René Redzepi in search of the most tantalizing flavors the world has to offer.

Hungry is a book about the hunger not only for food but for risk, reinvention, creative breakthroughs, and connection. Feeling stuck in his work and home life, writer Jeff Gordinier happened into a fateful meeting with Danish chef René Redzepi, whose restaurant, Noma, has been called the best in the world. A restless perfectionist, Redzepi was at the top of his game but looking to tear it all down, to shutter his restaurant and set out for new places, flavors, and recipes.

This is the story of the subsequent four years of globe-trotting culinary adventure, with Gordinier joining Redzepi as his Sancho Panza. In the jungle of the Yucatán peninsula, Redzepi and his comrades go off-road in search of the perfect taco and the secrets of molé. In idyllic Sydney, they forage for sea rocket and wild celery on surf-lashed beaches. On a boat in the Arctic Circle, a lone fisherman guides them to what may or may not be his secret cache of the world's finest sea urchins. And back in Copenhagen, the quiet canal-lined city where Redzepi started it all, he plans the resurrection of his restaurant on the unlikely site of a garbage-filled empty lot. Along the way, readers meet Redzepi's merry band of friends and collaborators, including acclaimed chefs such as Danny Bowien, Kylie Kwong, Rosio Sánchez, David Chang, and Enrique Olvera.

Hungry is a memoir, a travelogue, a portrait of a chef, and a chronicle of the moment when daredevil cooking became the most exciting and groundbreaking form of artistry.

Mexico

I wake up with sand in my mouth and a glare in my eyes. A man is speaking Spanish and waving a flashlight. I try to remember where I am and the details wobble into place, like a wraith making its form more visible. I hear the lapping of waves. I grope around for my backpack and my shoes. I arise from slumber on a dark beach in Tulum, the Mexican resort town. That body of water a few yards away is the Caribbean.

I have been dropped here in the middle of the night at a languorous caravansary called Nueva Vida. Unable to locate my cabana, and unable to find anyone who could provide me with a key to the cabana, lost in the darkness and bereft of a phone signal and exhausted by a day that has involved a morning flight from Mexico City to Oaxaca, lunch in Oaxaca, the tour of a sprawling marketplace in Oaxaca, dinner in Oaxaca, significant quantities of mezcal, a flight from Oaxaca back to Mexico City, another flight from Mexico City to Cancún, and then a three-hour drive ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

For foodies, this slim volume is a brisk, delightful tour through world cuisine, as well as a shrewd character study of one of the new breed of celebrity chefs. Redzepi "comes across as a man with a mission, and his overriding manifesto might boil down to this: Look more deeply. There is so much around us to relish."..continued

Full Review (677 words).

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(Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Gordinier makes a convincing case that Redzepi’s genius is irrevocably tied both to his relentless curiosity and to his compulsive need for change, but he habitually goes over the top in trying to find the key to the chef’s inspiration and charisma. In the end, readers are more likely to locate it in Redzepi’s own Work in Progress, a three-volume set that includes a surprisingly personal journal of a year at the original Noma and 100 recipes.

Entertainment Weekly
Anyone who’s seen an episode of Parts Unknown knows what an adventure tracking down great food can be, but Jeff Gordinier knows it better than most...[He] chronicles this journey with the practiced pen of a veteran journalist.

Kirkus Reviews
A vivid chronicle of a rare culinary adventure.

Library Journal
Part travelog, part memoir, this is a quick, delightful read difficult to categorize but easy to enjoy. Recommended for collections where memoirs and travel writing are popular.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This succulent tale of a culinary genius in search of constant transformation will enrapture Noma acolytes and travel and food enthusiasts alike.

Author Blurb Ruth Reichl, author of Tender at the Bone
If you want to understand modern restaurant culture, you need to read this book. Gordinier takes us into the fabulously obsessive world of the world's most fascinating chef - and he does it with the voice of a poet. You will remember this every time you go out to eat.

Author Blurb Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance
This wonderful book is really about the adventures of two men: a great chef and a great journalist. Hungry is a feast for the senses, filled with complex passion and joy, bursting with life. Not only did Jeff Gordinier make me want to jump on the next flight (to Mexico, Copenhagen, Sydney) in search of the perfect meal, but he also reminded me to stop and savor the ride.

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Beyond the Book

The Rise of the Celebrity Chef

Celebrity chef Julia Child cookingJeff Gordinier, the author of Hungry (about his travels with René Redzepi), dates the concept of the modern celebrity chef to 1990, when Marco Pierre White, a London chef with a famously fiery temper, released the cookbook White Heat. A decade later, Anthony Bourdain, who had a similar bad-boy image powered by sex and drug use, published Kitchen Confidential. Gordon Ramsay was something of a British counterpart: a foul-mouthed cook who doesn't suffer fools and demands authenticity from food. Gordinier refers to such chefs as the "rock stars" of the industry.

A number of the cultural icons who have influenced our thinking about food have never managed a restaurant kitchen, though. Think of Julia Child, who published the cookbook ...

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