RaveThe New York TimesA hard-working sensitive can take only so much and the waiter starts to malfunction. He delivers food to the wrong table. He makes inane replies to reasonable requests. He catches his hand in a wine drawer and bandages it badly. He keeps the Widow Knipschild waiting an uncomfortably long time for her second glass of port. He grows more and more glitchy, threatening the principle that he has organized his life around, disappearing into his professional role. As he puts it, \'I make objects and food come and go without being noticed myself.\' These do not sound like the ingredients of a page turner, but Faldbakken has a way with nonaction. He builds a delicious tension between the paucity of events and the lavishness of the technique with which they are described. His waiter, though taciturn while on duty, is a chatterbox as a narrator, providing a busy, intricate analysis until each minor stumble achieves seismic status. Played in slow motion, his malfunctions unspool as slapstick with an undertow of dread.
PositiveThe New York Times\"Friedman’s narrative stitches it all together, but the bulk of his book is made up of blocky quotes from the chefs who were there. He has written books with several of them and thinks of others as friends. He approaches them with deference, even apologizing in a preface because \'many godlike talents, including some who took precious time to treat me to deeply revealing interviews, are scarcely mentioned\' ... By no means do I wish Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll were longer, but it might have been leaner. The long quotes grow rambling and repetitious, and the chapter on what may have been the first dinner where each course was cooked by a different famous American chef proves only that such events were no more interesting then than they are now ... Even if Friedman doesn’t manage to tell the whole story, the one he does tell is still essential. The chefs he interviewed did change American culture, and changed it so thoroughly that it’s impossible to imagine a similar crew of neophytes knocking over the current order.\