Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Review: Restaurant Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones

On the jacket:

What makes a restaurant hot? Whose name do you need to drop to get a table? Why is one place booked solid for the next nine months while somewhere equally delicious is as empty and inhospitable as the Gobi desert?

Welcome to the restaurant business, where the hours are punishing, the conditions are brutal and the Chef's Special has been languishing at the back of the fridge for the past three days.
This is an industry plagued with obsessives. Why else do some chefs drive themselves crazy in pursuit of elusive Michelin stars, when in reality all they're doing is 'making someone else's tea'?

Nothing is left to chance: the lighting, the temperature or even the cut of the salmon fillet. There's even a spot of psychology behind the menu. What do they want you to order? What makes them the most money? And why should you really hold back on those side dishes? 

In Restaurant Babylon, Imogen Edwards-Jones and her anonymous industry insider lift the lid on all the tricks of the food trade and what really makes this £90 billion a year industry tick. So please do sit down, pour yourself some heavily marked-up wine and make yourself comfortable (although we'll need that table back by 8.30 sharp).


This was my first read from the Babylon series and I now want to read the rest of the books in this series. Restaurant Babylon reveals some restaurant secrets which ideally every diner should know - some of these we do but ignore and some, as a reader, I was shocked to read!

Customers visting a restarurant place all their trust in the chef, waiters and management to get pure, unadultrated and healthy food on their tables. But there have been instances when this hasn't happened. We have heard takes of this, but never really paid head to it. The author talks about such incidents.

Unsuspecting customers have been tricked by reused sampling spoons, to even drinking soups with the chef's salive in then. Not only this, restaurants are more concerned about their reputation and earning more money, compromising the trust the customer places on them. If you are into eating out a lot, your opinion of restaurant food will change once you have read this book. Of all the incidences mentioned in the book, some are outrageous, some will make you cringe and at times, laugh out loud.

Restaurant Babylon is Edward-Jones' eighth book in the series, with Anonymous - which implies the various interviews she has done to get the book together. True events as told to her by the people she interviewed, put in to fictional 24-hour stories, the stories are narrated by a fictional restaurateur who owns three fictional restaurants in London. The events are about restaurants in London, of course, but I am sure the same, or even worse happens in kitchens worldwide! 

When short of cash, we overlook the expensive dishes and order the cheaper side-dishes. That's what the restaurant's management expects us to do. Order more of the cheaper dishes as they are cheaper to make, and this is where they earn more. Never thought of this, did you? This was just one of the milder things I realised after I read Restaurant Babylon.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

1 comment:

  1. In Revelation it is not specifically speaking of the city "Babylon" in modern day Iraq. It is talking about a false religion that is responsible for the martyring of God's Saints and misleading people. To help you distinguish which Indians in Australia religion denomination this is, notice the other clues in the chapter. Clothed in scarlet and gold. What church calls itself "Mother"?


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