NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.
Owner and chef of New York's Prune restaurant, Hamilton also happens to be a trained writer (M.F.A., University of Michigan) and fashions an addictive memoir of her unorthodox trajectory to becoming a chef. The youngest of five siblings born to a French mother who cooked "tails, claws, and marrow-filled bones" in a good skirt, high heels, and apron, and an artist father who made the sets for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Hamilton spent her early years in a vast old house on the rural Pennsylvania New Jersey border. With the divorce of her parents when she was an adolescent, the author was largely left to her own devices, working at odd jobs in restaurants. Peeling potatoes and scraping plates "And that, just like that, is how a whole life can start." At age 16, in 1981, she got a job waiting tables at New York's Lone Star Cafe, and when caught stealing another waitress's check, she was nearly charged with grand larceny. After years of working as a "grunt" freelance caterer and going back to school to learn to write (inspired by a National Book Foundation conference she was catering), Hamilton unexpectedly started up her no-nonsense, comfort-food Prune in a charming space in the East Village in 1999. Hamilton can be refreshingly thorny (especially when it comes to her reluctance to embrace the "foodie" world), yet she is also as frank and unpretentious as her menu and speaks openly about marrying an Italian man (despite being a lesbian), mostly to cook with his priceless Old World mother in Italy.
Customer ReviewsSee All
She Paints a Beautiful Picture
I loved this book. I enjoyed Hamilton on Season 4 of The Mind of a Chef on PBS. I enjoy her cooking and this book really told the story of the way she grew up and relationship with food.
One of the Best I’ve Read
This is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read - certainly best food or chef -related memoir.
I was reading the last pages of the book on my commute home from the restaurant one night, and I turned the page. Unknowingly, I had finished the book, and I actually cried to myself. I found myself truly choked up, not just by the beautiful writing and profoundly moving ending, but because of an overwhelming sadness that came over me; I couldn’t believe it was over. Even though I had just finished it, I already missed it. Escaping into Gabrielle’s colorful culinary world after a long hard day of my own was such a relatable release - what I’m feeling is normal. I am not alone in how I’m going through this industry. Most importantly, what I strive to become is possible, and alive and well in Chef Hamilton. Such an inspiration, beautiful writer. Fantastic, can’t-stop-turning-the-pages type of book. I highly recommend!
Blood Bones & Butter
Hope she will continue sharing her story as life goes on. Inspirational and informative.