The Fourth Star
Dispatches from Inside Daniel Boulud's Celebrated New York Restaurant
By Leslie Brenner
(Clarkson Potter, Paperback, 9781400048038, 320pp.)
Publication Date: May 27, 2003
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Within every fine restaurant there exist two worlds: the elegant, hushed environment of the dining room and the chaotic, explosive, high-
tension scene behind the swinging kitchen doors. The ability to create dishes that are utterly sublime and turn them out at breakneck pace while simultaneously juggling kitchen crises, coddling demanding patrons, and managing overworked staff is what defines a four-star chef.
In The Fourth Star, award-winning author Leslie Brenner goes inside those swinging doors to explore the realities behind Daniel, capturing the dramas that arise in the insular, high-pressure milieu of a world-class kitchen. New York’s food establishment had been stunned when Daniel Boulud’s newly opened flagship restaurant was awarded only three stars from the New York Times. From that moment on, it became Boulud’s unspoken mission to regain the four-star rating that he’d previously garnered during his tenure at Le Cirque and then at his own first restaurant. That he was striving to do all this on an unprecedented scale, turning out nearly four hundred meals in a few short hours of service—meals that had to be absolutely perfect every time—made this goal all the more ambitious.
Brenner paints a portrait of a remarkable French chef at a pivotal moment of his career, as Boulud relentlessly drives his staff to the peak of excellence.
The Fourth Star provides full access to every aspect of Daniel, investigating everything from the maître d’s table assignment policies to the internecine politics of advancing up the culinary ladder.
Filled with delectable, undercover details and moving personal drama, Brenner’s chronicle is an addictive read about the inner workings of a super-lative restaurant. The Fourth Star is destined to satisfy restaurant lovers, professional cooks, and armchair chefs alike.
James Beard Award-winner LESLIE BRENNER is the author of four previous books on wine and food. She lives in New York City.
“A witty and sumptuous pantry-level look at the struggle to create an American cuisine. Brenner . . . is no mere foodie but a solid cultural historian. . . . Even dieters will be unable to resist this gourmet repast on American culture.” Kirkus Reviews
“Lively and informative and will certainly make you laugh. . . . Brenner sees our food tastes in terms of historical or sociological perspective . . . interweaving the personal and anecdotal in her text.” Ann Beattie, in Bon Appétit
“Delectably written.” Booklist
“At dinner parties, the role of the cookbook is more often to provide what’s on the plate than to inspire what is being discussed. American Appetite is likely to be an exception. . . . In it, Brenner . . . dissects American cuisine. . . . Breezy, opinionated, and . . . sure to spice up dinner table conversations.” Los Angeles Times