This hilarious story follows an English major who, for lack of “real work,” ends up in the kitchen of a mid-level restaurant in London. Here “Monocle,” as he is called by his co-workers (who are wholly unimpressed by his worthless degree) finds life among a highly dysfunctional “family” that comprises the kitchen at The Swan.
Never having worked in any kind of service industry, let alone a restaurant, Monocle is unprepared for the close knit but outwardly cruel cast of characters such as “Racist Dave,” hapless pastry chef Dibden, and Ramilov (who is often locked into the freezer for crimes real and perceived against the head chef Bob).
Behind the scenes of chaos written in laugh-out-loud prose, two menaces linger. The first is an evil glutton who heads a very dark underground culinary club. The other is Monocle’s past and his inability to come to terms with the death of his brother at a fairly early age, and his long-held and no doubt true belief that his father is convinced that the wrong son died.
This is tough stuff to overcome. It is even tougher to tell a story of such tragedy in such a winning and witty way, but that’s just what this author does.
In the end, Monocle finds a kind of redemption — who knew it could come by way of sin? This book, which will have you laughing throughout, will linger for the deeper themes of family, loyalty, and love lying just below the surface.
Penguin; ISBN 978-1-59420-579-8; $26.95.