Title: Turning Tables
Author: Heather and Rose MacDowell
324 pages; Hard cover
Publisher: Dial Press, NY, NY 2008
Reviewed by, Bess Emanuel Fall 2008
Okay, it’s almost 15 years since I owned and managed a restaurant, and it was in Boston, not my home town of New York, but the restaurant experiences in this book, which purports to be based on real life, are pretty far removed from my own. However this had no bearing on my enjoyment of Turning Tables.
Unlike most books reviewed in this section of Good Cooking, this is a novel, a story about a woman who loses her job in marketing and finds herself settling for a waitressing job at a top trendy Manhattan restaurant, complete with egotistical chef, crazed owners and demanding customers. Having gotten the job because of a family connection, and being completely unprepared, she suffers through a broad range of humiliations until finally getting her act together just in time to quit in triumph. And (spoiler alert!) despite lustful encounters with a prep cook, she still manages to find true love with one of the customers.
Although many of the antics and personalities were thankfully beyond my own experience, the authors’ portrayal of the pressures and speed of life and work in a restaurant rang true. Heather and Rose MacDowell, the twin sister/authors, “have waited tables in some of the best (and worst) restaurants in Manhattan, Nantucket and San Francisco”, and the authenticity shows. Long hours, backbreaking physical labor and the stress of pleasing everyone are things I must say I don’t miss. This read was a chance to remember the fun without doing any of the work. I recommend Turning Tables as a fun look inside the wild ride that the restaurant business has become.