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Tough Cookies: Tales of obsession, toil and tenacity from Britain's culinary heavyweights Paperback – 3 Apr 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (3 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861979754
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861979759
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Revelatory, principled and entertaining, this enjoyable book explains why so few of our restaurants are excellent and so many are mediocre. (Christopher Hirst The Independent)

[Simon Wright] has captured the authentic stench of the top flight kitchen ... a delicious tale. (Jay Rayner Observer)

Enough kitchen gossip to satisfy the most prurient foodie. (Aileen Reid Sunday Telegraph)

About the Author

Simon Wright was editor of the AA Restaurant Guide until July 2002 when he resigned in protest because of the celebrated row over the rating of Petrus restaurant in London. He now works as a restaurant consultant for Optimum television, a freelance food writer and is a partner in Y Polyn, a pub restaurant near his home in Camarthen, West Wales, where he can be found behind the bar and sometimes in front of it, but is rarely spotted in the kitchen.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Durston TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Jun 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Tough Cookies' essentially gives mini-biographies for four of the most significant chefs cooking at the moment: Gordon Ramsay; Heston Blumenthal; Shaun Hill and Marcus Wareing. Wright was an inspector with the AA Restaurant Guide and has spent some time in the kitchen himself, which I guess makes him more qualified than some to write this book, however, I did have some real difficulties with it.

As the book is only about 200 pages and as it includes an introduction, Wright's own kitchen experiences and an afterward, you might appreciate just how `mini' these biographies actually are. Then there is the fact that if you have read Ramsay's `Humble Pie' or `Playing with Fire', the whole section on Ramsay is somewhat redundant.

Then there is the choice of chefs. Why these four? This is never really explored. It was great to read about Heston Blumenthal, who came across as charming and inspiring (especially as he is self-taught.) I can also understand that his cooking has been incredibly influential. But Marcus Wareing and Shaun Hill??? They might be very nice people, but charismatic isn't the first word that springs to mind. If Wright wanted to choose a `Ramsay protégé' why didn't he choose Angela Hartnett and at least shown that women are equally as capable of achieving Michelin stars. The `spectre' of Marco Pierre White also haunts a couple of the chapters and I found myself wondering why Wright has chosen not to write about the most influential chef of the last thirty years.

This is a pleasant enough book, the writing style is nice enough but I'm not quite sure what Wright was hoping to achieve.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By londonreader21 on 4 Mar 2007
Format: Paperback
Tough Cookies was one of a random pile of books bought to take on holiday last summer that never got opened as we such a good time. It was therefore only in the last couple of weeks I discovered the pleasure of Simon Wright's book. Having some prior knowledge of the school of very hard knocks that is the journey through the restaurant cooking world, I was initially a bit concerned it was going to be too self-referential. This however turned out not to be the case. It's a fabulous little book and I'm only sorry he didn't do a few more chefs, as I got through it in less than a week. While waiting for his next book, I'm looking for an excuse to make the pilgrimage to try out the cooking at his own establishment, Y Polyn, outside Camarthen in Wales - seems a very long way to go but I suspect it will be worth it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
Confusing! 9 Jun 2014
By Les Ismore - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this a few seconds ago. I couldn't wait to write a review, although, normally if I can't wait to write a review, it's because I loved the book.

The huge problem with this book is the various voices. Sometimes it's one of the four features chefs talking. Other times, it's Simon Wright. The problem is that you have to read and re-read to figure that out. Pronoun hell!

Wright seems to think that an illustration of 3 stars is enough to alert the reader of a change in voice. It isn't; mostly because even after the annoying 3 star graphic, there's still more than one voice.

To its credit, the four chef stories are engaging. I love chef bios, which is why I ordered the book.

The worst partoif the book are the stories of Wright's experiences as a food critic. Who cares? And the ultimate slap is his story, at the end, of his time in the kitchen. Do we care? No.

I almost feel like his writing was ego driven; a need to be in the same book as these four heavy weight chefs. Spare us!

This book should have been written in a very straight forward fashion-- 4 biographies of 4 notable men. Period.
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