In Generation Chef: Risking It All for a New American Dream, journalist and food writer Karen Stabiner (Family Table) tells the captivating tale of the journey taken by rising chef Jonah Miller as he fulfills his childhood dream of opening a restaurant, the Spanish-themed Huertas, in the East Village section of New York City. Her behind-the-scenes view chronicles the restaurant’s debut year, providing a vivid look at the challenges faced by Miller and his team. Although it is Miller’s story, Stabiner provides insight from the different players involved, delivering a detailed, richly layered narrative. Their highs and lows feel intensely real, from a game-changing New York Times review to a delayed opening and the initial rejection of a full liquor license.
Like many young chefs, Miller is an ambitious, passionate perfectionist. He “had a hunch that the city needed the kind of Spanish food he wanted to make” and wasn’t prepared to contemplate getting “lost in the shuffle” of the overflowing world of celebrity chefs. Stabiner meticulously chronicles his growth and maturity as he secures the restaurant’s necessary funding, navigates building codes and liquor license approvals, tackles management duties and personnel issues and gives in to customers’ odd culinary requests that alter the whole structure of his dishes. Smart and frugal in his launch planning, he helped cut tile for the kitchen and enlisted friends to help stain the dining room wainscoting. And in the typical French culinary method, he was determined to incorporate a “no-waste” policy into his menu, enjoying the “challenge of transforming what another chef might throw out.”
Generation Chef will fascinate those eager to devour everything food-related. Even foodies who are well aware of the difficulties faced by any restaurant starting out will find Stabiner’s inside peek into this fast-paced, often cutthroat world enlightening.