Image from Vanity Fair
I had seen a short interview with Joe Bastianich on the Today Show. Mr. Bastianich was talking about his newly released book, and I was intrigued. In case you don't know, Mr. Bastianich is a partner with Mario Batali, and together they have opened many extremely successful restaurants. I usually love books (or tv shows!) like this where you get to look "behind the curtain" at what really goes on in an industry or lifestyle that I don't really know much about. (I think that's partly why I love the show Gold Rush so much, because I know nothing at all about gold mining. Heck I'd probably watch a show or read a book about designing plus size ball gowns or washing the windows on a skyscraper - I guess I'm a naturally curious person.)
It's been getting somewhat mixed reviews on Amazon, so I wasn't even sure I was going to read it, but, I searched for it at my local library and was able to get a copy quickly, so I figured what the heck. (I have a little secret way of getting newly released books faster - I look and see if they have a large print copy and I request that - there are usually far fewer holds on the large print copy, or in this case, none at all!)
I didn't really like it much at first, although I still felt compelled to continue reading. In some ways, I felt like it had been poorly edited. Too much sentimental rambling on about his trips to Italy and too much superfluous language. (I don't care if that's how he really talks - this is a book, and I didn't think it read well.) He seemed like a guy with a real big ego and the book was just too self-indulgent.
In addition, I thought the book was going to be more about the day to day workings of a restaurant, and more about Mario Batali - maybe also more of an "expose". But it's really a memoir, and it's quite philosophical. And he talks about wine A LOT. Like, it seems like it should almost have been called "Restaurant and Wine Man". I'm not sure why I seemed to have an incorrect expectation of what the book was about after seeing the Today Show interview and reading the description on Amazon.com.
However, what surprised me is that a little over halfway through the book, I really started enjoying it. I think it's because I really started to feel like I understood Mr. Bastianich, and he was growing on me. By the end of the book I really felt as though I "got" him, and "got" what he is so passionate about. I actually really liked the guy. And the book.
If you like autobiographies, and you can deal with some language, "Restaurant Man" is a quick and interesting read that provides an insight into a lifestyle that most of us have never experienced. Mr. Bastianich is an intelligent and very interesting and successful fellow.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?