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Down And Out In Padstow And London
 
 

Down And Out In Padstow And London [Kindle Edition]

Alex Watts
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Review

Reading 'Down and Out in Padstow and London' is a serious test for any food writer. Not only has Alex Watts done what all of us say we would like to do, tested his mettle in a professional kitchen, he also writes about his experiences so well that you spend as much time being jealous of his writing skills as you do of his experiences. It's an annoyingly enjoyable read. - Simon Majumdar, author of two food/travel memoirs, Eat My Globe and Eating For Britain. --Simon Majumdar, author of two food/travel memoirs, Eat My Globe and Eating For Britain.

We've all shouted at the telly I could do better than that;. We've all begrudged the daily trudge to the same office job. At some stage you've got to live your dream - and Lennie Nash does just that. Well he has a go anyway. A tabloid journalist and secret foodie, Lennie jacks in the day job to follow his dream of being a chef. He soon realises it's a younger man's game, of long hours, blisters and bags of pheasants that won't pluck themselves. Down and out in Padstow and London isn't a Masterchef path to cheffing glory, it's the story of someone who has a dream and tries to give it a go. The wannabe cook is likeable, a little rough round the edges, with a journalist's drinking habits and cynical view of the world, but his passion for food keeps him going. There are brushes with celebrity, but Down and Out is about the other end of the kitchen and some of the real characters who don't get a TV series of their own - although maybe they should! A great read for armchair foodies, chefs and trapped Lennie Nashes everywhere. --@bailed

Down and Out in Padstow and London should be required reading for anyone who has ever dreamed of leaving the monotony of the 9 to 5 rat race to open their own restaurant. Alex Watts' book recounts his journey of giving up a well-paid secure lifestyle in his early forties to start again as a commis-chef in search of the ultimate dream, a restaurant by the sea. You may know his alter-ego Lennie Nash. I thought that perhaps the book should be required reading for all chefs just starting out in college too. In retrospect, at that stage of life those students probably need more encouragement than a big gulp of common sense so carefully administered by Alex. The story engaged me because I share Alex's dream of my own restaurant, mine a bistro and not by the sea. Anyone who has considered giving it all up knows how to feign interest when friends say that the idea is crazy, pretends to listen when loved ones explain the costs to social life and perhaps health and ignore naysayers who don't have enough imagination to see the potential new life as a chef patron. But I can't dismiss Alex. His life cannot be ignored. Alex takes the reader with him from bistros in London, to hotels in Padstow, to a certain Michelin Temple in Berkshire, very briefly into the machine of the Ramsay Empire and to a James Bond film (yes truly). He describes the rituals, the humiliation and the trials as he finally crosses his own Rubicon into the fiery furnaces. I felt like I was there with him and I know all the people that he met. His tales are stark, honest, vulnerable and told with a no nonsense matter of fact dose of here's how it was. I imagine that his food tastes honest like his words do. When I finished the book I was both uplifted by the ending of Alex's own walking off into the glorious sunset and disappointed and empty too. It wasn't the book. It was me. I knew, unlike the family and friends well-meaning advice I could not silence Alex. But here is the beauty of his book, it never once told me not to, it didn't speak down to me and call me an idiot for having the dream in the first place. In fact, the more I dwelled on Alex's transition from life to dream life the more I was inspired. Alex's journalistic objectivity explains reality yet doesn't discourage or disparage the readers' own ideals. Alex carefully leaves the reader in a position of eyes wide open and should the reader's dream fail, could rightly say I told you so;. I just don't think he would. Instead he'd nod sagely and tell you to get up of the mat and try again. And also to raise a glass to Keith Floyd. --@breilbistro

Product Description

A humorous account of what really happens behind the scenes of both Michelin-starred restaurants and lesser establishments - and the extraordinary, larger-than-life characters who inhabit them.

The book begins with Lennie Nash's decision to give up his job as a journalist, aged 40, and a fateful meeting with Rick Stein, when the cheffing door is opened. There follow stints in the kitchens at Padstow, a failed audition for Masterchef, work as a commis chef under a crazed ex-football hooligan, 16-hour shifts as a kitchen slave in a gastropub, and the rigours of the Fat Duck. Unable to keep up with the younger chefs around him, he gives up the dream and returns to office life, only to find the itch starting again.

The book is aimed at the umpteen armchair chefs and foodies who would love to learn the trade first-hand from the professionals, braving the stress, 16-hour days, and low pay of kitchen life, but are far too sensible to do so...

Reviews:

"Reading 'Down and Out in Padstow and London' is a serious test for any food writer. Not only has Alex Watts done what all of us say we would like to do, tested his mettle in a professional kitchen, he also writes about his experiences so well that you spend as much time being jealous of his writing skills as you do of his experiences. It's an annoyingly enjoyable read."
- Simon Majumdar, author of two food/travel memoirs, Eat My Globe and Eating For Britain.

"Cracking read...It's great - seek it out. Raw, honest, funny, great stories..." @eatlikeagirl

"A must read for anyone interested in food/cooking/restaurants." @jteramsden

"Funny, engaging, interesting, lively." @oliverthring

"Great book - a one-sitting read! Love the Chelsea-Barca scene! " @MarkLewis32

"A rattling good read." @chrispople

"Sensational account of a chef’s life, couldn't put it down. Get it from Amazon now!" @Fishermansarms

"Really enjoyed it. Such refreshing food writing. Looking forward to your sequel..." @Jen_foodmag

"You will not be able to put it down - great read." @MTomkinsonChef

"Great, great stuff." @VictoriaHaschka

"A must read for wannabe chefs!" @londoneating

"The whole book is a real eye-opener into the differences between the TV image and the reality of the kitchen, particularly where celebrity chefs are concerned. It's sharp, easy to read and almost impossible to put down..."
- Nicola Hine, The Maidenhead Advertiser

Product details


More About the Author

Alex Watts is an author and sometime cook, currently eating and writing his way around SE Asia.

He has written for TV, radio and national newspapers in the UK, America and Australia. He also writes the blog Chef Sandwich - a journal of his food and travel writing.

He was once verbally abused by Tom Cruise.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living the dream - however painful 31 Dec 2011
By bailed
Format:Kindle Edition
We've all shouted at the telly "I could do better than that". We've all begrudged the daily trudge to the same office job. At some stage you've got to live your dream - and Lennie Nash does just that. Well he has a go anyway. A tabloid journalist and secret foodie, Lennie jacks in the day job to follow his dream of being a chef. He soon realises it's a younger man's game, of long hours, blisters and bags of pheasants that won't pluck themselves.
Down and out in Padstow and London isn't a Masterchef path to cheffing glory, it's the story of someone who has a dream and tries to give it a go. The wannabe cook is likeable, a little rough round the edges, with a journalist's drinking habits and cynical view of the world, but his passion for food keeps him going.
There are brushes with celebrity, but Down and Out is about the other end of the kitchen and some of the real characters who don't get a TV series of their own - although maybe they should!
A great read for armchair foodies, chefs and trapped Lennie Nashes everywhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read and a warning to all wannabe chefs! 30 Dec 2011
By richard
Format:Kindle Edition
I've been following 'Lennie Nash's' blog for some time and found his stories and experiences a great read and I've willed him on as he's tried to make it as a chef. As many a keen amateur cook I've harboured ambitions about living the dream and becoming a chef, but Alex/Lennie actually went out and tried it. His experience should serve as an amusing warning to all of us amateur gourmets and dinner party hosts as he details the back breaking work and the characters that exist in the restaurant world from the local pub all the way up to the giddy heights of michelin stars.

It's candid, amusing and difficult to put down once you've started. A great read and should be a set text if you're considering a change of career, or god forbid, applying to masterchef.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the kitchen of celebrity chef ding 9 Sep 2013
By JG
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Forget Masterchef and BakeOff. This book takes you deep inside the reality of life as a wannabe chef working for Stein, Blumenthal and the rest.
It's a real page turner, with some laugh out loud moments and brilliant turns-of-phrase.
If you fancy work as a chef or just live TV cook shows then this is a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crazy look at restaurant life 21 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A really good read, very amusing and well worth the price just for the coral dust idea. I would highly recommend this book for anyone foolish enough to want to be a Chef
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically written 12 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book (a bargain price for Kindle too) and am so glad I bought it on a whim. Extremely funny and a throughly absorbing read. I have already bought the follow up and can only recommend this author highly!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 12 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An effortless, hugely entertaining, fluid and fluent writing style makes this book a treat to read. I've just bought Down And Out in South East Asia, Alex's new book, and have followed his blog via rss feed at http://chefsandwich.blogspot.co.uk/

There's no mistaking the Fat Duck or Rick Stein's Padstow gaff but I guess Porbeagle Isle is Burgh Island, Bigbury-on-Sea in Devon and in that case the pub on it is the Pilchard Inn. I only mention this because I spent 6 months in the kitchens at neighbouring Thurlestone Hotel as a kid and, too, used Burgh Island as an escape.

And on that brief but unforgettable experience, this book highlights all the reasons why I decided not to make a career back-of-house.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What every foodie thinks about 2 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a great read! For all of us who have thought of Masterchef and beyond, take heed! A great read that made me laugh, smile and associate with. Loved every page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific 23 Jan 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Beautifully written and utterly gripping. The descriptions behind the scenes of professional kitchens were fascinating. Alex Watts has more guts than I'll ever have, entering this strange, arcane world. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read !!!
I could not put this down. Excellent read. Very open and honest account of a quest to be a chef. I hope the author eventually fulfils his dream.
Published 1 month ago by Happy Bee
5.0 out of 5 stars A chef's life
as I am a chef myself have been through all the misery and got the tee shirt what a wonderful and funny read
Published 3 months ago by Justin hill
2.0 out of 5 stars Let Down By Poor Service
The trouble is, that unless Alex Watts' tale leads to him becoming a successful chef, then it doesn't really have any validity as a "chef-biog". And he isn't, so it doesn't. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Roger Risborough
5.0 out of 5 stars A real kitchen tale
A fantastic read. I was a bit sceptical at first the idea of a perfectly normal, sane, journalist giving up a good job to become a chef. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Nathan Hill
3.0 out of 5 stars An insightful read
This book takes a fascinating and very honest look at the world of the professional chef, as seen through the eyes of the author. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J E Hargan
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
although I found the abrupt ending a bit odd. Felt a little like the author just went 'Oh I'm bored of this now'
Published 9 months ago by RachaelW
5.0 out of 5 stars Un-put downable
Alex is a journalist. He writes superbly well. He also has a great story to tell - the one of his journey to become a professional chef. Read more
Published 10 months ago by WillHam
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting take on travel/ cookery book
I must say I was suprised by this book.. it was amusing in parts.. the bit about Masterchef was really funny and in others it was quite informative.. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jill in Derby
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read for sofa foodies
Great behind the scenes expose of what really goes on in restaurants. Fascinating and repulsive in turns. Ill never look at certain tv shows or chefs the same. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Melanie Crowe
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