Thomas McNamee is an American author who writes about culinary history, natural history, and conservation. His credits include four nonfiction books on natural history, two culinary biographies (Alice Waters and Chez Panisse and The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat), and one novel, A Story of Deep Delight. He lives in San Francisco, California.
Tales of the California chef who helped change the world of food. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Talk about dish: McNamee's book is a gossipy history of the famed restaurant and a biography of the individual behind its three-decade rise from humble beginnings to international renown. Alice Waters was a young, single American woman with strong, confident sense and vision but little experience in the restaurant business when she moved to Berkeley in the 1960s. She loved food and cooking, and dreamed of opening a restaurant; her passion and enthusiasm eventually produced a location, a crew and a clientele. The book chronicles the following decades with extensive detail from a behind-the-scenes viewpoint, going from stovetop to bedroom, from opening night right up through the restaurant's recent 35th anniversary. Larger-than-life personalities abound, but the primary focus is Waters, whose success occasionally comes across as attributable to accidents and other people as often as design. The author researched restaurant archives and interviewed dozens of willing subjects with Waters's approval, and the result is a melange of reverential biography with restaurant and food history. Sidebars scattered throughout the text provide additional anecdotes and insight into Waters's favorite dishes. Serious foodies will devour this memoir. B&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Charming. . . . What [McNamee] does beautifully is capture the
spirit of the restaurant and its spiritual growth, as well as its
place in American culture."
-Los Angeles Times
"McNamee, an erudite journalist, essayist, poet, and literary
critic, paints a particularly vivid picture of this enfant terrible
of the kitchen."
-San Francisco Chronicle "A wonderfully entertaining, gossipy glimpse inside a kitchen that continues to surprise and delight."
-The Seattle Times "A rounded and convincing portrait of a controversial figure in American cooking."
-Saveur "Careering, chaotic, and ultimately inspiring . . . McNamee's clear-eyed assessment avoids the usual platitudes about California cuisine and shows how one individual with an understanding of food can carve out a personal identity and at the same time make culinary history."
-The New York Times Book Review