Like a lot of new parents, Melanie Rehak wanted to know more about the food she was cooking and serving her son. Unlike a lot of new parents, she went to work in the kitchen of applewood, an restaurant committed to local food, community, and fostering creativity among their staff–for a full year. Along the way, she visited and worked on the farms, ranches, and cheesemaker who supplied the restaurant’s. She also was put to work at the salad station, the fish station, and the dessert station at applewood–during dinner service. All of which helped her cope with feeding her son, who in the meantime, had become a very picky eater.
The answers she found on her journey about what to eat and why may not be unfamiliar to readers of contemporary books about food sourcing and sustainability, but the context of her quest–her family, the farmers, and staff and at applewood–is the stuff of great reading. Rehak is an engaging narrator: open, honest, questioning, and often very funny. She has great balance in her approach to feeding kids. She pursues her story of food sourcing and her education in the professional kitchen with persistence and such good humor and generosity that it’s hard not to love her. But it’s the people she meets and brings vividly to life that make the book truly compelling.
In fact, this book really doesn’t have much to do with eating for beginners. Although there are some great looking recipes (Pasta with Delicata Squash, Sage, and Pine Nuts, or Under the Bed Almond Cookies, for instance), it’s not a how-to. It is about discovering who feeds us, how we can feed ourselves better, and how we can live in a more connected way.
Caroline wrote a full review last summer & I’ll be reviewing the paperback for Literary Mama later this year. But for now…I have one hardcover copy to give away. Leave your comments by the end of day on next Friday, 10/14.
We’d love to know:
Do you have a favorite farm story?
What station would you pick if you had to work in a professional restaurant