• Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll

  • How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New American Profession
  • By: Andrew Friedman
  • Narrated by: Roger Wayne
  • Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (104 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll transports listeners back in time to witness the remarkable evolution of the American restaurant chef in the 1970s and 1980s. Andrew Friedman goes inside Chez Panisse and other Bay Area restaurants to show how the politically charged backdrop of Berkeley helped spark this new profession; into the historically underrated community of Los Angeles chefs, including a young Wolfgang Puck; and into the clash of cultures between established French chefs in New York City and the American game changers behind the Quilted Giraffe, River Café, and other storied establishments.

Along the way, the chefs, their struggles, their cliques, and, of course, their restaurants are brought to life in vivid, memorable detail. As the '80s unspool, we watch the profession evolve as American masters like Thomas Keller rise, and watch the genesis of a "chef nation" as chefs start crisscrossing the country for work and special events and legendary hangouts like Blue Ribbon become social focal points, all as the industry-altering Food Network shimmers on the horizon.

A (mostly) oral history told primarily in the words of the people who lived it - from writers like Ruth Reichl to chefs like Jeremiah Tower and Jonathan Waxman - Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll treats listeners to an unparalleled 360-degree re-creation of the industry and the times through the perspectives not only of the pioneering chefs but also of line cooks, front-of-house personnel, investors, and critics who had front-row seats to this extraordinary transformation.

©2018 Andrew Friedman (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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great

well written
great read
well done
very much enjoyed the true stories
cant wait to read the follow

1 person found this helpful

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loved it

What a great trip down memory lane. I was in the kitchen at Michael's, Trumps, and Spago through all of that. It was a madhouse but what an adventure. the only thing I struggled with was the narrator's horrific pronunciations of French culinary terms. Noteworthy are poissionier, cuisinier and garde manger. Loved it nonetheless.

3 people found this helpful

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the reader makes the audiobook - unfortunately

I really enjoy Andrew Friedman's podcast ' Talking with Chefs' and was really looking forward to reading this book. I'm familiar with the territory as I was around and paying attention at the beginning of this food revolution. My problem with the book is not at all with the book itself, as Friedman writes well and uses extensive informative and interesting interviews to tell a great story. The problem is the narration. I realize now that I should have simply ordered a copy or got it from the library as this reader really made it difficult for me to even finish the book. When he's simply narrating the book, no problem. Its when he attempts to use voice to imitate the interviewee. His use of sing-songy voice when portraying the women chefs is beyond annoying - it definitely verges on sexist. And this fellow should be made to do a few French lessons before he tries to actually voice French phrases. He is far afield in his pronunciation of even common French culinary terms. All in all, a great read brought down by an irritating narration.

4 people found this helpful

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I Was There

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in food and restaurants and food history. It's very well written, The food scene in LA was very exciting during this time.

What did you like best about this story?

I was in LA and part of the food, food writing and restaurant industry from the late 70's through the 80's. The book is well researched, but I can think of a couple of LA people that I'm sorry aren't included. Nevertheless, to read about the evolution of dining and eating as an art and the emergence of chefs as celebrities makes this book a fascinating page turner.

What didn’t you like about Roger Wayne’s performance?

I wish these narrators would do more research on pronunciation. I cringed every time I heard a person's name or food mispronounced...escpecially the French terms. How hard could it be to do a little checking before you get into the recording booth?

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. It's too long, but very fun to listen to.

Any additional comments?

I bought the hard copy and was happy I did, because there are footnotes that are never part of the narration that enhance this author's work. Details that are interesting to the whole story and people involved are missing from the narration because of the lack of footnote narration.

4 people found this helpful

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The reading performance is very hard to ignore

The stories are meaningful, entertaining, & seem well documented for an oral history.
Before purchasing this recording, I assumed the reviewers were nitpicking with their commentary on the performer's pronunciation & characterizations. I owe those reviewers a public apology.
It is stunning that any editorial team would allow this recording to be released. The author should pursue legal action.
I am a chef of the age of those profiled. I have known & still count several of the protagonists as friends. The spirit of those times is well captured. The events described , at least the ones I have first-hand knowledge of, are reported accurately. However, most of the main characters come off as far better people and in some cases better chefs than they actually were/are. As seems to be the case in most walks of life, it is hard to be a ground breaking success without being a bit of an animal. I think the author glosses over this idea due to a mild case of hero worship.

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excellent narration

second listen, great book about the lives of chefs in the kitchen from past to present!

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Truth. The reality of chefdom across America.

Speaking as a professional who came up in NYC in the 80's and 90's, many of the chefs whose stories are profiled in this book are familiar to me--some personally, and some by reputation. Contrary to the book's title, this homage to the life of a chef is not about drugs or rock and roll (though the drugs aspect makes a glancing appearance). Chefs do drink hard and party, but above all they work hard, work their asses off. The book is long but it needs to be because it covers decades of evolution regarding the food world we know today. I recommend!

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Learn some French!

The narrator mispronounced so many names so many times that I was often wincing and rolling my eyes. I know a lot of the people either personally or by name and it was just really distracting. Italian names were just as hard for this guy, and basic food words too. It’s a shame because it was a good story.

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the industry in it's early years

if you have any hopes of making it in the service industry... be it chef, server, bartender...etc. it is good to know where the humble beginnings started and paved the way for you! this book can give those insights. amongst countless other

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A Great Overview of American Chefs

This is a great book. It doesn't go into too much detail but does give a cliff notes version of how most of the big hitter chefs made their way.