Cooking Dirty: Twenty-seven days and counting

Yesterday was a big day.

On Monday morning, the first finished copies of my new book, Cooking Dirty, rolled off the presses in wherever it is that they print books nowadays.  That afternoon, one of the first (I like to think of it as the first) was dropped in an overnight envelope in Manhattan and jetted out to Colorado. Tuesday morning, it arrived at my front door and I -- still sleep-bleary and thoroughly muddled -- dragged my ass up off the couch, stumbled outside in my boxers, frightened the neighborhood children and retrieved it from the porch. That picture up top?  That's it. After two years and change -- two years of writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing, re-re-editing, panicking, re-re-re-editing, talking with the lawyers, changing names, reaching out to my ex (who appears in the book in some marginally unwholesome ways), getting finally fucked (legally speaking) one last time by my ex, re-writing again, choosing art, choosing photos, fixing the art, fighting with my wife (who appears in the book in some completely unwholesome ways), talking with my publicist (yeah, I have a publicist now because me=whore), arranging interviews, arranging parties (see below for the details) and celebrating each small step towards this one big final step -- Cooking Dirty is an actual book. For better or worse, it is a real thing now, with a life of its own and a trajectory to follow.

It has actually been for sale for a few months all over the web, and review copies have been in the hands of the cold and unfeeling press for weeks. So I guess it's been real for a good, long time.  But actually holding the thing in my hands for the first time?  That's something else entirely.  It's the difference between staring for hours and hours at that same bit of crumpled porno you had hidden under your bed as a kid and staring at a live, warm and naked girl standing in front of you; that same sense of joyous wonder and sinking feeling of oh, christ, what do I do now...

Still, I love the thing. I'm proud. The first reviews have started to come out, and though most of them have been good, they've run the gamut already. It's a lot like tracking the comments section here in Cafe Society -- lovers, haters and goons, in more or less equal measure.

Publishers Weekly gave me a starred review (which I've been told is a big deal even though my mom is pissed because she can't find a copy on the rack at her local grocery store).  This guy, who writes for the Barnes & Noble website (and reviews books for the Boston Globe), described my journeyman time in restaurants as that of an "overworked, underpaid pirate captain living a life of swashbuckling excess" -- so, obviously, I love him long time.  And Russ Parsons from the Los Angeles TimesHe just flat hates my punk ass. True, he also seems to be laboring under the misconception that every cook and every chef out there must, by some unwritten rule, aspire to cook at Melisse, Spago or the French Laundry someday, but that's his issue, not mine.  It's also a pretty good example of why I won't be heading out to work in L.A. any time soon.  Did I mention that Parsons is the food editor at the LA Times?  No?  Must've slipped my mind.  But I feel for every line dog and grunt-level cook out there in the City of Angels who just can't measure up to Parsons' vision of what a chef is supposed to do with his life.  I truly do.

Anyway, I'm down to the point now where I can see the release date coming. On July 1, not only will I actually have a book on the shelves, but that book will have a picture of me in it -- effectively blowing my cover for good.  I've know this was coming for a long time. And because it's my nature to be contrary and to always make a complicated situation worse, I've decided to throw a big-ass party to celebrate my coming out, as it were.

So this is your first warning, all you fans, all you chefs, all you freaks and foodies and weirdos and friends who've been keeping up with me for the past seven years: Clear your calendars for the night of Wednesday, July 1 and come on down to Katie Mullen's, at 1550 Court Place.  Festivities will start at 5:30 p.m. There'll be booze. There'll be books for sale. There'll be me -- with no mask, no nothing, standing there en clair for the first time, shaking hands and signing copies, drawing dirty pictures on bar napkins, whatever.  Hell, buy five copies and maybe I'll trace my junk on the front cover for you.  Instant collector's item, right?  Imagine how much it'll be worth if someone who really hates my guts shows up and puts a bullet in me.

And for those of you who seriously can't wait that long? You can pre-order the thing right now and be the first on your block to get 368 pages of nothing but me.  (What, you thought it was gonna be short?  Or actually about food?)  Buy two copies and give one as a gift to someone who really likes kitchen stories and bad language!  Buy five and use them as doorstops!  You folks out there who've been begging for my resignation, firing or head on a plate for all these years? You should buy even more so that I can get just retardedly rich and famous and finally move to some island in the South Seas and never make fun of your favorite neighborhood burrito restaurant again. The more you buy, the faster that'll happen. The faster I'll end up as a headline on Gawker, geeked out on Panamanian shark tranquilizers with a supermodel in a headlock, passed out in a gutter in Tangiers in a pool of my own blood and vomit.

Good times, kids. Good times... 


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