Now in paperback: the beloved Lee Brothers take on the wild, competitive world of high-end catering, exposing secrets of the food business that no home cook or restaurant chef has experienced.
Hotbox reveals the real-life drama that takes place behind cavernous event spaces and soaring white tents, where cooking conditions have more in common with a mobile army hospital than a restaurant (think M*A*S*H instead of Top Chef) and clients tend to be highly emotional and demanding (think mother-of-the-bride).
Lee brothers Matt and Ted, known for their hip take on Southern cooking, steeped themselves in the culture of catering for four years, getting to know the business from the inside out. It’s a realm where you find eccentric characters, working in extreme conditions under insane stress, who must produce magical events and instantly adapt when, for instance, the host’s toast runs for a full hour or a hail storm suddenly erupts.
Working undercover at a catering firm, the Lee brothers take you from black-tie galas to celebrity-filled Hamptons cookouts, investigating the outer reaches of the industries that make the galas happen, such as an industrial park in New Jersey, where a party rental company’s warehouse flashes to life every day at three a.m. with the arrival of the silverware crew. They also introduce you to the incredible DeSoto brothers, who pioneered hotbox cooking, and trace the history of catering back to when crepe parties were all the rage. You’ll never attend a party—or entertain on your own—in the same way after reading this book.
PRAISE FOR HOTBOX
"Hotbox is the Kitchen Confidential of the big-ticket catering world."
—The New York Times
"Lively...[with] just the right combination of sophistication and self-deprecation [to] show us what really goes on behind the scenes."
—The Wall Street Journal
"Fast and furious and funny, Hotbox digs deep into the messy, mad world of catering. It's an absorbing, immersive, appetizing tale, written with sharp intelligence and style."
—Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book
“Hotbox takes you from the frying pan into the fire. The cutthroat world of catered events come to life in this compelling book by the Lee Brothers.”
“Catering chefs and their teams are often the unsung heroes of the culinary world. With compelling storytelling, Matt and Ted Lee take you behind-the-scenes to show the challenges, perseverance, integrity, and work ethic necessary to achieve excellence.”
—Drew Nieporent, Restaurateur: Nobu, Bâtard, Tribeca Grill
"Who knew that food improv was a thing? Hotbox is wicked and funny as hell. The Lee Bros. journeyed into the lowly outback of haute cuisine—catering—and came out with a new genre, food bouffe."
—Jack Hitt, author of Bunch of Amateurs
“A brilliant, gleeful, fly-on-the-lip-of-a-saucepan narrative, full of tips and secrets, and proof (yet again) that some of our greatest stories are in how we make food. You will never ever take a passed hors d’oeuvre for granted.”
—Bill Buford, bestselling author of Heat
"The Lee brothers...pull back the curtain on the catering world, an often-dismissed arm of the culinary industry denounced for its 'rubber chicken and dry salmon,' in this captivating tell-all.”
"Readers see behind the scenes of galas to show the conflict between sales teams and kitchen teams, understand the unique challenges of creating restaurant-quality food for a single evening, and meet the major players in the New York event world. The authors' reverence for caterers' work ethic comes through on every page. A mixture of history and memoir, the Lees' investigation offers insights into a segment of the food world that often deliberately keeps itself invisible."