Comments 6

February Book Review: Don’t Try This At Home

Don’t Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the world’s greatest cooks and chefs

Edited by Kimberly Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman, 2007.

I wonder about if the editors Spoon and Fried are pseudonyms  or just coincidence? This is collection of personal botch up stories from 23 of the well-known chefs including Heston Blumenthal, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert and Jamie Oliver. Each chapter or story is only a few pages long so it’s a good book just to flick through and read a story or two at a time.

If you cook like me – someone who has never followed a recipe to the letter, you will inevitably find yourself with some failures. How you deal with your botch up is up to you. I’ve become quite good at salvaging things either by finding a fix or making something entirely new with what I’ve got.

In a creative, stressful arena, in the heat of a commercial kitchen, tight deadlines, egos and people from many different backgrounds are thrown into the mix. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I loved reading about other people’s fail incidents but also how they saved their hides. Knowing how to think creatively and quickly is key. This is not of a collection of foodie stories to drool over. Though I particularly enjoyed the four Q&A presented at the end of each story: “What do you eat for breakfast?”, “What dish would you cook in order to seduce someone?”, “What do you never cook?”, ” What’s the one dish you find hard to get right?”

Some of my favourite morsels from Don’t Try This At Home

“…he had all our respect because he lead by unwaivering example.”
Michel Roux

“There’s nothing sadder in life than not finding your talent, something you’re good at and that makes you happy.”
Raymond Blanc

“I couldn’t tell you the quantities of each ingredient in the sauce. All I can tell you is what was in it and that I cooked it until the consistency seemed right, and if I made it tomorrow, it would be more or less the same, but slightly different, owing to my mood tomorrow and perhaps to my evaluation of the way it came out today.”
Sally Clarke

“Challenges like these are what keep most people motivated. If you haven’t got anything to worry about in life, you become a bored and boring person.”
Sally Clarke

“The more experienced one becomes in the kitchen, the less one is inclined to show off.”
Tamasin Day-Lewis

“You know that old expression, “It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game”. That line was definitely not coined by a chef. Because for a chef, it’s only about whether or not you pull through. If you fail, nobody cares how hard you tried.”
Marcus Samuelsson

So yeah…

I recommend this book to anyone that has recently failed at something in the kitchen. Reading about famous chefs failing (but working out to salvage the situation) will make you feel more confident about failing again.

Book reviews:

For those that have just joined, as part of my year’s resolutions (read more books) I hope to read and review a food related book every month during 2012.

January Book Review: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
This entry was posted in: Books


I am Genie, a graphic designer/photographer obsessed with food and bunnies. I live in Whanganui, New Zealand with my husband, The Koala and our two rabbits, Kobe and Bento. I write about my hedonistic ways and I love the mantra "Eat well, travel often". I prefer not to write about myself in third person.


  1. Thanks for the great review! I love reading these kinds of kitchen stories too. Sometimes the best things started out as mistakes. Like the ubiquitous (now) molten chocolate cake, which started out life as a failed souffle that Jean-Georges Vongerichten was forced to serve too soon.

    Am downloading this to my kindle now!

  2. Gaaahh you just made me remember that I said I would read more books. Our library is never open past 5 and I really can’t justify spending $30.00 on a book I’ll read once. Guilt sandwich. Love the quotes, all so true 🙂

    • Bunny Eats Design says

      5pm! How is anyone supposed to get to the library unless they are unemployed? Are they open in the weekend? I sometimes go then.

      I’ve also started buying e-books on Amazon for iPad. They’re around $10 each and I don’t have to pay a bomb for shipping from the US and it arrives instantly.

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