All or Nothing: One Chef's Appetite for the Extreme

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9780062339300: All or Nothing: One Chef's Appetite for the Extreme

Blending Kitchen Confidential, Blood, Bones & Butter, and Breaking Bad, a culinary memoir that illuminates the highs and lows of addiction, anxiety, and ambition in the world of haute cuisine.

 Thirty-one-year-old Jesse Schenker has rocketed to the top of the culinary world. An Iron Chef winner and James Beard nominee, he was voted Best New Chef by New York Magazine, and his acclaimed Recette was named Best New Restaurant by the New York Times. But Jesse’s epic rise masks a little-known past filled with demons and obsession, genius and mania.

Growing up in wealthy suburban Florida, Jesse was introduced to the culinary world—and the world of hard drugs. Becoming a high-school dropout addicted to heroin and crack, he was alienated from his family and wanted by the cops. By twenty-one, he had robbed, cheated, and lied to everyone in his life—and had overdosed, been shot at and nearly beaten to death. His eventual arrest motivated him to get clean.

Jesse learned to channel his obsessiveness and need to get ever “higher” into his career. But his growing success fueled his anxiety, leading to panic attacks and hypochondria. In this startling and down to earth memoir, Jesse lays it all on the table for the first time, reflecting on his insatiable appetite for the extreme—which has led to his biggest triumphs and failures—and shares the shocking story of his turbulent life.

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Review:

“Jesse’s story of hitting rock bottom and working his way to the top is a must read.” (Marcus Samuelsson)

“Jesse Schenker has made his own success out of chaos, through sheer will and determination. A must read.” (Jonathan Waxman, chef and cookbook author)

“Go Ask Alice meets Kitchen Confidential… an engagingly written, compulsive read.” (Kathleen Squires, food writer, The Wall Street Journal, Zagat.com, Saveur)

“Warren Buffet famously said ‘Intensity is the price of excellence’… but it is also the foe of moderation! The same personality that makes for success makes for excess. The story of All or Nothing captures this great truth of life.” (Stephen B. Gullo, Ph.D., author of the national bestseller Thin Tastes Better)

“All or Nothing is a great read not only for young chefs but for anyone who wants to make a change for the better.” (Bill Telepan, chef/owner, Telepan & Telepan Local)

“Schenker’s candid memoir chronicles the painful journey of a man striving for both culinary perfection and inner peace” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This is the chef memoir we’ve been waiting for.” (Vanity Fair)

From the Back Cover:

"Remember, it's not just about the food—it has to be an experience."

Thirty-one-year-old Jesse Schenker has rocketed to the top of the culinary world. An Iron Chef winner and a James Beard nominee, he was voted Best New Chef by New York magazine, and his acclaimed Recette was named Best New Restaurant by the New York Times. Manhattan magazine has called him "a boy wonder . . . young, hungry, and talented," while Zagat has hailed him as a "wunderkind." But Jesse's epic rise masks a little-known past filled with demons and obsession, genius and mania.

"For as long as I can remember, I've had this unquenchable thirst to keep moving, going, and doing. I've never felt comfortable in my own skin and have always needed an outlet for that uneasiness." Jesse first found that outlet in the South Florida kitchens where he showed great promise as a teenager, but it was in those same kitchens that he was introduced to the world of hard drugs. He was fourteen when he first got arrested and seventeen when he became physically addicted to Oxycontin. Becoming a high school dropout addicted to heroin and crack, alienated from his family and wanted by the cops, by the age of twenty-one Jesse had overdosed and nearly been beaten to death while robbing, cheating, and lying to everyone in his life.

After getting arrested and going to jail, Jesse got clean and slowly put back together the pieces of his fractured life, ultimately channeling the same energy that had earlier fueled his addiction into making a name for himself in the fast-paced, competitive New York restaurant scene. In this startling and down-to-earth memoir, he lays it all on the table for the first time, coming clean about his insatiable appetite for the extreme—which has led to his biggest triumphs and failures—and shares the shocking story of his turbulent life. All or Nothing is a candid exploration of the manic culture of some of the world's most celebrated kitchens. A drug-fueled, anxiety-ridden epic, it reads like a rollicking rock-and-roll memoir—with amazing food.

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