by Joe Bastianich
Brilliance Audio (audiobook)
Those who have dined at Lupa in Hong Kong might be interested in this book about Joe Bastianich, Mario Batali's partner in that establishment as well as others in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Sounding like Anthony Bourdain in his use of profanity for punctuation, Bastianich is most interesting when he's talking money in the restaurant business: margins should be three times your cost on everything; desserts are almost pure profit; wine by the glass is usually marked up four times; and it doesn't cost more than US$5 to make a bottle of wine. It's hard to imagine someone whose mantra is 'Buy it, fix it, sell it for a profit', can also find happiness in drinking his own wine, especially when he acknowledges that his vineyard will never make a cent. But the book provides some clues as to what drives Bastianich to strive for four-star reviews; he also reveals how he sometimes cheats by placing friends beside known reviewers and having them ooh and aah about their meals. Bastianich narrates the book with a surprisingly easy-to-listen voice, although the excessive swearing can be hard to digest at times.