Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Failed Chef's Book Becomes Kitchen Best-Seller
Bit of press - story about my book in The Cornish Guardian. Original article HERE...
Surprise Bestseller Features Alex's Stint As Padstow Chef
PADSTOW'S most famous kitchens have a starring role in a surprise bestseller which has stormed to the top of the online cookbook charts.
Rick Stein's restaurant and café feature in a new book by a journalist who jacks in the day job to try to make it as a chef.
His experiences, which ended in failure, led Alex Watts to write Down And Out In Padstow And London.
The humorous account recounts the years he spent training to be a chef, including stints at Heston Blumenthal's famous Fat Duck restaurant and Rick Stein's establishments in Cornwall.
The eBook version has become an overnight success, sparking dozens of good reviews on Twitter.
It is also the bestselling eBook in Amazon's professional cooking chart and is in the Top 40 of the Amazon Kindle Store's food and drink bestseller chart, above the likes of Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson.
Alex, 41, a journalist and sometime cook from Burnham in Buckinghamshire, said: "I've been really pleased with the success, especially as it's self-published and I've just had to rely on word of mouth.
"But it is ironic that a book detailing my disastrous attempt to train as a professional chef is now top of the Kindle professional cooking chart. There's a section on my failed audition for Masterchef, which I think helped a lot because so many people watched the last show."
The paperback version of the book came out on Amazon last month, but Alex hadn't even seen a copy until his father Brian, 73, flew out to Cambodia, where Alex is writing his second book, based on a cook's tour of South East Asia.
"When dad arrived in Phnom Penh with a couple of copies, it was a very strange and proud moment to see it finally in print," said Alex.
"I've been really pleased with the sales of the Kindle book, so hopefully the printed version may do as well.
"It's definitely a book aimed at armchair chefs and foodies who'd love to learn the trade first-hand from the professionals, braving the stress, 16-hour days, and low pay of kitchen life, but are far too sensible to do so ... ."
The book describes what really happens behind the scenes of both Michelin-starred restaurants and lesser establishments – and the extraordinary, larger-than-life characters who inhabit them.
It begins with Alex's decision to give up his job as a journalist, and a fateful meeting with TV cook Rick Stein, when the cheffing door is opened.
There follow stints in the kitchens at Padstow, work as a commis chef under a crazed former football hooligan, 16-hour shifts as a kitchen slave in a gastropub, and the rigours of the Fat Duck.
Unable to keep up with the younger chefs around him, he gives up the dream and returns to office life, only to find he can't forget about the experience and puts pen to paper.
MORE: Being Wined And Steined In Padstow
"Reading this book is a serious test for any food writer. Not only has Alex Watts done what all of us say we would like to do, tested his mettle in a professional kitchen, he also writes about his experiences so well that you spend as much time being jealous of his writing skills as you do of his experiences. It's an annoyingly enjoyable read." - Simon Majumdar
"A rattling good read." - @chrispople
"It's a fab read. The Fat Duck chapters are class." - @Mcmoop
"If you claim to be a foodie you MUST buy this book." - @CorkGourmetGuy
"Bought your book and am hugely enjoying. Funny, engaging, interesting, lively." - @oliverthring
"A great read about the reality of working at The Fat Duck & other less famed restaurants." - @alanbertram
"Very funny, very close to the bone." - @AmeliaHanslow
"A great read and must have book for anyone in the industry." - @philwhite101
"Thoroughly enjoyed it." - @rosechadderton
"Excellent!" - @MissCay
"Just finished your book, and loved it! Thanks for ending on a happy note; it needed it after all the reality ;-)" - @voorschot
"Fab account of psycho chefs, plus work experience with Heston and Stein." - @Laurajanekemp
"Excellent read & loved the ‘scary duck’ tale! I look forward to the follow up book (no pressure ;D). Great memories of first being addressed as chef." - @granthawthorne
"Sensational account of a chef’s life, couldn't put it down. Get it from Amazon now!" - @Fishermansarms
"I'm loving your book. Very enjoyable. Some great one-liners. "His legs wobbled like a crab on stilts" had me chuckling." - @griptonfactor
"Highly recommended. A great book about changing careers for his love of cooking." @Whatsinmymouth
"Downloaded the book last Sunday and finished it the same day! Great read." - @MTomkinsonChef
"Very funny." - @SkyRuth
"Any of you who have flirted with chefdom, go and immediately download this book from Amazon - Down and Out in Padstow and London. Great read." - @el_duder
"Truly brilliant." - @kcassowary
"Just rattled through Down And Out in Padstow and London by Alex Watts in no time at all, what a great book." - @leejamesburns
"It's brilliant, a fine piece of work. If you've ever wanted to peer into a professional kitchen I can't recommend it highly enough." - @acidadam
"Fantastic read - the English Kitchen Confidential!" - @cabbagemechanic
"A great eBook to buy about serving your time (literally!) as a trainee chef." - @OkBayBach
"Great read." - @rankamateur
"Don't start reading it if you have things to do:)" - @NorthernSnippet
"Great book...couldn't put it down, read it non-stop on a train and finished it in one day." - @chunkymunki
"Jolly good read, feel free to do one more." - @esbens
There are also 12 reviews on its Amazon page.