Prick with a Fork, by Larissa Dubecki
Allen & Unwin (2016), Paperback, 304 pages
Larissa Dubecki is now a well-known Australian food critic and writer, with a noted acerbic touch to her written output. Those wondering why she does tend to dip her pen in acid when reviewing restaurants will perhaps have their question answered by reading this inflammatory tome. For as it happens, Larissa, now on top of the food service food chain, as it were, began her career at the bottom, as a much put-upon waitress in a number of seamy, sleazy eateries, where apart from the arrogance, stupidity and just plain selfishness of the clientele, she had to contend with randy cooks, rampant drug-taking, disappearing cash, orgies in the cool-rooms and unintelligent restaurant owners who all believe their 1 star establishment is destined to be the next big thing. Dubecki pulls no punches, the writing is fast and frenetic and she plays the shock value for all its worth, producing what can only be described as Restaurant Babylon. In between her shocking and sometime quite disgusting tales, she has included many amusing anecdotes and asides from other participants in the hospitality industry. For myself, I found the gross-out stuff became quite excessive, and the manic writing style just a little OTT. For all that though, it’s still an entertaining and educational look at an industry that prides itself on being cutting-edge and trendy to the max. Many hipsters may die from sheer shock upon reading this book, for it punctures the mega-cool veneer of the foodie industry with needle-sharp precision, while the rest of us will get a good laugh, and maybe chose the next place we choose to dine just a bit more carefully.