Blood, Bones & Butter by Chef Gabrielle Hamilton


Blood Bones & Butter

I was given a copy of Chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s book, Blood, Bones, & Butter, by her publicist months ago. I read it quickly, enjoyed it immensely, and then got too busy to review it. So glad that participating in The Kitchen Reader Book Club gave me a kick in the ol’ blogging pants so I could share it with you. (And thanks to Aileen of Pharma Foodie for choosing the book for June’s selection.)

What struck me about the book was how different every chef’s journey is to the kitchen. Anthony Bourdain just fell into it after experiencing the, dare I say, the glamour of a chef’s life during a summer job working in a restaurant. (If you’ve read his first book, Kitchen Confidential, you’ll know what I mean by “glamour.” If not, read the book. It’s worth it just for that story. You know, the wedding one.)

Julia Child fell in love with cooking during her time in France and wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 as a way to keep herself busy. I doubt she would have ever got into translating French cooking into something American housewives could understand if Julia had ever been a mother. She wouldn’t have had the time or energy.

Grant Achatz, whose book Life, On the Line I’m currently reading, had grown up in the restaurant business. From the time he was a teenager he knew he wanted to cook and own an amazing restaurant – and strived toward that goal every step of the way.

For others like Gabrielle Hamilton, the journey was a not quite as straightforward.

Relationships and the search for family

What struck me about Blood, Bones & Butter is not that it’s so much about food as it is about relationships. Of course, there's Gabrielle’s relationship with food – that’s a given. But there are also the relationships with her parents and siblings, the city of New York, her romantic partners, her colleagues and staff, the written word, her husband, and her children.

Blood, Bones & Butter is also a story of food as home. Gabrielle’s journey is one of searching for stability and family, not surprising since her parents divorce hit her so hard. Still, her journey is a meandering one. While she goes off here and there – to cook for others, to do catering work, to travel, to wash dishes and waitress, to have romances, to go back to school, to be mentored, and to become a mother – her journey always takes her back to food.

Gabrielle’s like a planet with a wobbly trajectory, rotating around a very enticing star. Sometimes her orbit meanders and she almost wanders off into space. Luckily for us, she always returns to home to the preparation of good food. It’s not a surprise that she’s created a wonderful restaurant, Prune, as a home base and surrounded herself with a close knit team and many devoted fans.

I can’t wait to see what Gabrielle Hamilton will do next, because I know her follow up memoir will be even better.


Disclosure: I received a copy of the book to facilitate my review. My opinions are my own.

8 thoughts on “Blood, Bones & Butter by Chef Gabrielle Hamilton

  1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

    Thanks for the compliments Stacy and Jen. I’m always intimidated to write a review of a book that’s written so well. I mean, how dare I? So I’m glad that the wobbly planet metaphor worked for you both.

  2. Stacy (Little Blue Hen)

    I love your comparison of Hamilton to a planet wobbling in orbit around food. It’s interesting that she never romanticizes food outside her experiences in Italy — which is less about the food than the preparation. I really enjoyed it, too. So glad you joined the Kitchen Reader!

  3. Connie @ Rookie Foodie

    This book is on my list of books to read! And now after your review…I’m really excited!

  4. sarah, simply cooked

    I enjoyed that this book was about relationships as well as food. To be honest, I found some of her food experience was a bit alienating for me–I can’t imagine working those brutal hours in catering with food that was clearly a bit substandard. But her simple, quality cooking at Prune sounded amazing. I would like to go there for a meal! How did you get into food, Anne-Marie?

    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      In my opinion, the love of food always starts in the home. Like Gabrielle, I had a French mother. I also had a dad who, when he got out of the army in WWII, swore he’d never had a bad meal again. Between my mom’s fabulous cooking and my dad’s search for great food, I grew to appreciate all kinds of cuisines and loved to cook.


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