Hotbox Inside catering, the food world's riskiest business

Matt Lee

Book - 2019

"Hotbox exposes the real-life drama behind cavernous event spaces and soaring white tents, where cooking conditions have more in common with a mobile army hospital than a restaurant. Known for their modern take on Southern cooking, the Lee brothers steeped themselves in the catering business for four years, learning the culture from the inside-out. It's a realm where you find eccentric characters, working in extreme conditions, who must produce magical events and instantly adapt when, ...for instance, the host's toast runs a half-hour too long, a hail storm erupts, or a rolling rack of hundreds of ice cream desserts goes wheels-up. Whether they're dashing through black-tie fundraisers, celebrity-spotting at a Hamptons cookout, or following a silverware crew at 3:00 a.m. in a warehouse in New Jersey, the Lee brothers guide you on a romp from the inner circle--the elite team of chefs using little more than their wits and Sterno to turn out lamb shanks for eight hundred--to the outer reaches of the industries that facilitate the most dazzling galas. You'll never attend a party, or entertain on your own, in the same way after reading this book."--Book jacket.

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

647.95/Lee
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 647.95/Lee Checked In
Subjects
Published
New York, New York : Henry Holt and Company 2019.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xii, 272 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
ISBN
9781627792615
1627792619
Main Author
Matt Lee (author)
Other Authors
Ted Lee (author)
  • Manchego Mayhem
  • Not the sharpest knife in the drawer
  • sidebar : prep facts
  • The client is (almost) always right
  • Fiesta in the palace
  • The telephone chef, the glorious guys, and G.I Joe veterans frankfurter service
  • Dinner in light and dark
  • sidebar : sheet pan magic
  • The big pink hippo
  • sidebar : glass facts
  • Sixteen hundred deviled eggs
  • sidebar : working the hotbox
  • Can I even eat this?
  • No milk! (butter and cream okay)
  • Great expectations
  • sidebar : bathtub pasta salad
  • The happy couple fancied themselves food curators
  • sidebar : nuptials by the numbers
  • Piercing the veil.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Fascinated by the efficiency and talent with which three caterers operated in an unfamiliar kitchen for an event at the James Beard House, cookbook writers Matt Lee and Ted Lee (The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, 2013) dove into the world of high-end catering in New York City. They joined the kitchen of Sonnier & Castle as prep assistants, eventually working their way up to staffing major events. They named their book, which chronicles their four years of research, for the aluminum cabinet and portable oven that's used to transport food, keep it cold, and finish cooking it at an event. Readers see behind the scenes of galas to show the conflict between sales teams and kitchen teams, understand the unique challenges of creating restaurant-quality food for a single evening, and meet the major players in the New York event world. The authors' reverence for caterers' work ethic comes through on every page. A mixture of history and memoir, the Lees' investigation offers insights into a segment of the food world that often deliberately keeps itself invisible. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Veteran cookbook authors Matt and Lee (The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen) take a behind-the-scenes look at the stressful world of high-end catering. The authors spent four years in the industry, interviewing the key players, from the planners to the chefs to the low-level assistants. Most important, they worked along the lines themselves, helping prep food and transport it as well as working the events. They explain the tricks of the trade: assembling thousands of delicacies and transporting them to galas, weddings, meetings, and celebrity events, all of which require getting the food delivered fresh and on time. The title refers to the all-important proffer; an upright aluminum cabinet on wheels that transports partially prepared food to the event location, where it will be completed. The personalities involved, as well as the sumptuous foods described, are presented in delicious detail. VERDICT The authors do a great job at taking readers behind the scenes of a hectic profession many might take for granted.—Phillip Oliver, formerly with Univ. of North Alabama, Florence Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The Lee brothers (The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook) pulls back the curtain on the catering world, an often-dismissed arm of the culinary industry denounced for its "rubber chicken and dry salmon," in this captivating tell-all Caterers are unlikely to find stardom, the authors write, though their food is "often as succulent... as what's served at the gastronomic temples of the nation." To learn what fuels the stressful, no-glory business, the Lee brothers don aprons for a New York City catering giant, working their way from the prep kitchen to the "fiestas," or live events—including intimate donor dinners at art galleries and extravagant upstate weddings. They uncover a scrappy, innovative ecosystem, best demonstrated by caterers' near-universal reliance on the "hotbox," an "upright aluminum cabinet on wheels" used to transport food and powered by Sterno lamps. The authors track how meal delivery services of the 1960s escalated into today's parties for the über-rich, replete with gimmicks like "meringues floating through the room suspended by white balloons." The Lee brothers' evocative behind-the-scenes look showcases the workforce of innovators (many of them immigrants) thriving on "culinary triage." This is an intriguing look at an industry often hidden from the thousands of guests it serves nightly. (Apr.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The authors, working undercover at a catering firm for four years to get to the know the business inside-out, expose secrets of the food business that no home cook or restaurant chef has ever experienced.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Offers a deep dive into the catering industry and exposes the behind-the-scenes drama behind event spaces, cooking conditions, and demanding clients.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Matt Lee and Ted Lee take on the competitive, wild world of high-end catering, exposing the secrets of a food business few home cooks or restaurant chefs ever experience.Hotbox reveals the real-life drama behind cavernous event spaces and soaring white tents, where cooking conditions have more in common with a mobile army hospital than a restaurant. Known for their modern take on Southern cooking, the Lee brothers steeped themselves in the catering business for four years, learning the culture from the inside-out. It’s a realm where you find eccentric characters, working in extreme conditions, who must produce magical events and instantly adapt when, for instance, the host’s toast runs a half-hour too long, a hail storm erupts, or a rolling rack of hundreds of ice cream desserts goes wheels-up.Whether they’re dashing through black-tie fundraisers, celebrity-spotting at a Hamptons cookout, or following a silverware crew at 3:00 a.m. in a warehouse in New Jersey, the Lee brothers guide you on a romp from the inner circle—the elite team of chefs using little more than their wits and Sterno to turn out lamb shanks for eight hundred—to the outer reaches of the industries that facilitate the most dazzling galas. You’ll never attend a party—or entertain on your own—in the same way after reading this book.