Bread And Butter

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Bread And Butter

by Michelle Wildgen

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | February 11, 2014 | Hardcover

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Kitchen Confidential meets Three Junes in this mouthwatering novel about three brothers who run competing restaurants, and the culinary snobbery, staff stealing, and secret affairs that unfold in the back of the house.

Britt and Leo have spent ten years running Winesap, the best restaurant in their small Pennsylvania town. They cater to their loyal customers; they don''t sleep with the staff; and business is good, even if their temperamental pastry chef is bored with making the same chocolate cake night after night. But when their younger brother, Harry, opens his own restaurant-a hip little joint serving an aggressive lamb neck dish-Britt and Leo find their own restaurant thrown off-kilter. Britt becomes fascinated by a customer who arrives night after night, each time with a different dinner companion. Their pastry chef, Hector, quits, only to reappear at Harry''s restaurant. And Leo finds himself falling for his executive chef-tempted to break the cardinal rule of restaurant ownership. Filled with hilarious insider detail-the one-upmanship of staff meals before the shift begins, the rivalry between bartender and hostess, the seedy bar where waitstaff and chefs go to drink off their workday-Bread and Butter is both an incisive novel of family and a gleeful romp through the inner workings of restaurant kitchens.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 Pages, 5.51 × 8.27 × 1.18 in

Published: February 11, 2014

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385537433

ISBN - 13: 9780385537438

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– More About This Product –

Bread And Butter

Bread And Butter

by Michelle Wildgen

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 Pages, 5.51 × 8.27 × 1.18 in

Published: February 11, 2014

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385537433

ISBN - 13: 9780385537438

Read from the Book

Bread and Butter Prologue Every few months, in the grips of their parents’ civic and vicarious ethnic pride, Leo, Britt, and Harry went on a forced excursion to the last Italian market in town. Most people in Linden would make a day of it and drive ninety minutes east into Philadelphia, to hit 9th Street or Reading Terminal, but Leo’s parents were diehards. As long as Moretti’s was open, they would insist it was the best. Inside a butcher’s case, denuded rabbits curled pink and trusting in white bins, while the sheep’s heads appeared chagrined and surprised by the depth of their eyeballs, the narrow clamp of their own teeth. The display of calves’ brains and kidneys, livers and tripe, repulsed Britt, struck Leo as regrettable but unavoidable, and entranced Harry, who was six. He stood with his hands on the glass, chewed-looking mittens dangling from his sleeves. Britt and Leo, who were twelve and thirteen, were supposed to be watching their brother but were primarily lurking several feet away near the bulk section, peering over patrons’ shoulders at the hooves and teeth. Their father appeared beside them, holding a pink slice of prosciutto, which he did not offer. These Saturdays sometimes left their parents flushed and high-spirited in a slightly confrontational way. “We’re not even Italian,” Britt pointed out. “Since when are you purists?” their father asked. “Would you be happier if we were in a
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From the Publisher

Kitchen Confidential meets Three Junes in this mouthwatering novel about three brothers who run competing restaurants, and the culinary snobbery, staff stealing, and secret affairs that unfold in the back of the house.

Britt and Leo have spent ten years running Winesap, the best restaurant in their small Pennsylvania town. They cater to their loyal customers; they don''t sleep with the staff; and business is good, even if their temperamental pastry chef is bored with making the same chocolate cake night after night. But when their younger brother, Harry, opens his own restaurant-a hip little joint serving an aggressive lamb neck dish-Britt and Leo find their own restaurant thrown off-kilter. Britt becomes fascinated by a customer who arrives night after night, each time with a different dinner companion. Their pastry chef, Hector, quits, only to reappear at Harry''s restaurant. And Leo finds himself falling for his executive chef-tempted to break the cardinal rule of restaurant ownership. Filled with hilarious insider detail-the one-upmanship of staff meals before the shift begins, the rivalry between bartender and hostess, the seedy bar where waitstaff and chefs go to drink off their workday-Bread and Butter is both an incisive novel of family and a gleeful romp through the inner workings of restaurant kitchens.

About the Author

MICHELLE WILDGEN is the executive editor of the literary quarterly Tin House. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Wildgen received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her fiction, personal essays, and food writing have appeared in The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; Best New American Voices; Best Food Writing; Prairie Schooner; and elsewhere. Michelle is the author of the novels But Not for Long and You''re Not You, and the editor of an anthology, Food & Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast. You''re Not You has been optioned for film by Hilary Swank and Denise Di Novi.

Editorial Reviews

" Bread and Butter , a novel about three brothers in the restaurant business. . . reward[s] industry insiders and food obsessives. . . The restaurant industry, with its relentless push for reinvention and obsession with the new, is brutal. But so is getting old, Wildgen’s novel will remind you. . . Wildgen, whose previous books include Food and Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast , has obviously spent a lot of time in kitchens. . . The pages start flying when Stray ramps up business. Which candidate will make the most impressive egg dish during the chef auditions? (That would be Jenelle with her eggs en cocotte with Gruyère, spinach and spiced tomato.) Will the malted cone-cups slip out of their pastry cream? Is the newsworthy, but potentially off-putting lamb’s neck going to be a hit in a town where only a dozen people might be able to pronounce grüner veltliner? Three words for you: Food Nerds Unite." — The New York Times Book Review   “In her new novel, Michelle Wildgen . . . gets the details of the restaurant biz and the dynamtics of those who are part of it just right. . . . As she did in You’re Not You , her compulsively readable literary debut, Wildgen couples vivid description with crisp prose, putting the reader right in the scene—and right at the table. She articulates how working closely with someone professionally creates an odd and not always welcome degree of intimacy, laying bare each person’s ‘unkn
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Bookclub Guide

 

 

BREAD AND BUTTER

 

A novel by Michelle Wildgen

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 

 



   1. How are Harry, Leo, and Britt different?  How are they alike?

 



   1. What is Harry trying to prove by opening up a restaurant in the same town where his brothers have their restaurant? Is his experience a useful background for a restaurateur, or do you think Leo and Britt followed a more helpful path toward owning a restaurant?

 

 



   1. How does the relationship between the brothers evolve over the course of the novel?

 



   1. How would you define the roles the brothers occupy in their family? How do those roles shift over the course of the book?

 

 



   1. What do you think about the names of the restaurants?  What do they reflect about each one?

 



   1. How has the novel changed the way you think about restaurants and the people who work in them?

 

 



   1. Do Leo and Britt own their restaurant or does it own them?  What about Harry?

 



   1. What are the implications (moral and practical) of Leo dating Thea?  Is he wrong to do so?

 

 



   1. How does Camille change Britt?  What about Thea and Leo?

 



   1. What was your favorite main course described in the novel?  Favorite dessert?

 



   1. How would you describe your attitude toward food?  Passionate?  Perfunctory?  Adventurous?  Would you order the lamb's neck?

 

 

To make your discussion of Bread and Butter even more enjoyable, the author has put together a few food and drink pairings.

(What this actually means is that the author wisely sought the advice of her more knowledgeable colleagues.)

 

 

For the ambitious, a few pairings for dishes from the novel:

 

Duck confit with roasted fig and butternut squash chips -- Oregon Pinot Noir (or Burgundy if you're in the mood to splurge)

 

Duck breast with thyme and Dijon mustard -- Sancerre or Pouilly-Fuissé

 

Pork buns -- Belgian Tripel or just about any sparkling wine

 

Tonkotsu ramen with pork belly -- Belgian Dubbel or Porter

 

Roast chicken with saffron rice - Provencal rosé

 

Cauliflower with cured lemon, Moroccan olive, and parsley -- California or French (not New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc or Greek Assyrtiko

 

Braised lamb's neck with gremolata and cavatelli -- Dolcetto or Nebbiolo

 

Poached pear with dulce de leche and salted almond -- Fino sherry

 

Goat's milk cheesecake with stone fruit compote -- Moscato, possibly rosé moscato

 

Corn ice cream with roasted plums -- Rosé moscato

 

To go with classic book club snacks such as assorted cheeses, spiced almonds, gougères or cheese straws, salumi, olives, or chocolate:

 

There's enough variety that you can go with whatever you like to drink. That said, you can't go wrong with a light-bodied red like Nero d''Avola or Aglianico, or a medium-bodied white such as Oregon Pinot Gris or Spanish Verdejo.

There are, however, numerous reasons to offer a sparkling wine, whether it's less expensive Spanish cava, Italian Prosecco, or pricier French champagne: one, bubbly goes with just about anything, and two, one of the most life-changing things I learned from a few years in the restaurant business is that sparkling wine is too delicious and versatile to be limited to once a year. Maybe cap your consumption at once per day … maybe.

 

Follow the author on Twitter @michellewildgen

 

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