From his first job scraping trays at a pizzeria at the age of fifteen, Jason Sheehan has worked at all kinds of restaurants across America, from Buffalo to Tampa to Albuquerque: at a French colonial and an all-night diner, at a crab shack just off the interstate and a fusion restaurant in a former hair salon. In Cooking Dirty he tells the story of one man's addiction to the urgency, stress, and adrenalin of minimum-wage kitchen work. His universe becomes 'a small, steel box filled with knives and meat and fire', where the kitchen is a fraternity with its own rites and initiations: cigarettes in the walk-in freezer, sex in the basement, drugs everywhere.
Restaurant cooking sets a series of seemingly endless personal challenges, from the first perfectly done mussel to the satisfaction of surgically sliced foie gras. The kitchen itself is a place in which life's mysteries are thawed, sliced, broiled, barbecued, and fried — a place where people from the margins find their community and their calling.
Cooking Dirty is a passionate, funny, electrifying memoir of addiction: an addiction to kitchen work. It reveals the hell and glory of restaurant life, as told by a survivor. Jason Sheehan is his own unforgettable central character — edgy, driven, irresistible. Eating out will never be the same again.