Excerpt: Cooking Dirty by Jason Sheehan

Friday, August 7th, 2009

By Jason Sheehan

The following is an excerpt from Cooking Dirty by Jason Sheehan. Be sure to check out Chris Teja’s recent interview with Sheehan.

Prologue: Florida, 1998

Saturday night, early, no one was able to find a rhythm. We kept getting popped, then stalled, taking five tables like BangBangBangBangBang, then nothing for ten minutes. The FNG fell into the weeds—dans la merdeeven at this stuttering half-speed. Jimmy, the owner, was antsy on expo, alternating between giggling fits and bouts of screaming obscenity. Floyd rotated the line out for cigarettes. He had a speed pourer filled with rum and hurricane mix in his rack that he sucked at like a baby with a bottle, and he jumped on every check out of the printer as if it were the harbinger of the rush that steadfastly refused to come. It was difficult to see from the grill station at one end of the line to the fryers at the other because of the wavy heat-haze—the air squirming, like staring through aquarium water.

Five o’clock came and went. It seemed to me suddenly like there wasn’t enough air on the line for all of us to breathe. I had chills. Cold flashes skittered up and down my spine while my front half baked. This being Florida and me being too young for menopause, I imagined it was malaria and stood firm, waiting for the hallucinations to kick in. With the ventilation hood going full blast, Roberto and Chachi couldn’t keep the pilots on their unused burners going so had to keep kissing them back to life—leaning over and blowing across the palms of their hands to get the flame from one to jump to the next with the gas turned all the way up. The alternative method: smacking a pan down on the grate at an angle and hard enough to catch a spark. They did it over and over again until Floyd yelled at them to quit it. After that, they fought over the galley radio. After that, they amused themselves by drinking the cooking wine (sieved through a coffee filter to separate out all the grease and floating crap and then mixed with orange soda) and pegging frozen mushroom caps at Jimmy whenever his back was turned.

At some point, Jimmy—in an attempt to catch whoever was throwing things at him, and half in the bag to begin with—spun around too fast, caught his foot on the edge of one of the kitchen mats and went down hard, his head spanging off the rounded edge of the expo table with a sound like someone throwing a melon at a gong. He was unconscious before he hit the floor.

There was an instant of shocked silence, then a crashing wave of laughter. Seeing anyone fall down is funny, but seeing a drunken fat man fall down beats all. One of the waitresses ran for the hostess (who also doubled as FOH manager), and she came at the best sprint she could manage in her stiletto heels and stirrup pants. The prep/runner crew treated Jimmy like any other heat casualty, breaking in a wing and descending like Stukas to drag him clear of the flow of service. It took four of them. Jimmy was a big man and moving him was like trying to roll a beached whale back into the sea.

They dumped him, loose-jointed, beside the cooler and calmly went back about their business. Jimmy’s T-shirt (Pantera on that day, I think, black and sleeveless, making his thick, pasty-white arms look like they were made of lard) rode up over his hairy, pony-keg belly. His eyes were closed. There was no blood, which secretly disappointed us all.

Floyd spoke to the line. “No one cops to this. No one snitches.”

He ordered Roberto to the wheel, shifted Dump, the roundsman, from second steamer (backing me) to second fryer (backing the new FNG), and vaulted the line to take Jimmy’s place at expo himself. As was only to be expected, that was when the real dinner hit finally came tumbling in. With the hostess seeing to Jimmy (and probably quietly looking to see how she could get at his wallet) the floor was left unmanaged. Waitresses double- and triple-sat their own sections in the absence of an egalitarian hand. The ticket machine began to spit. Like a pro, Roberto false-called a half dozen steaks to the grill, crabs to the steamers, and twenty-upped fries to get things rolling in anticipation of steaks going well-done and missed sides down the line, then started working actual tickets, hanging them ten at a time. The machine didn’t stop. The paper strip grew long, drooping like a tongue, spooling out and down onto the floor. On the galley radio, the DJ came back from a commercial and kicked into the Misfits doing “Ballroom Blitz,” and I—up to my wrists in meat and blood, crouching down at the lowboy trying to retrieve cheap-ass skirts and vac-pac T-bones from the dim interior—yelled that I’d kill the next cocksucking motherfucker that touched the dial. After that, we were in it, the machinery in motion.

Excerpted from COOKING DIRTY, by Jason Sheehan, published in July 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2009 by Jason Sheehan. All rights reserved.


READ an interview with Jason Sheehan

CHECK OUT some of his Denver restaurant reviews

BUY a copy of Cooking Dirty

Tags: ,

68 responses

  1. Interview: Jason Sheehan, author of Cooking Dirty | Memoirville says:

    [...] Excerpts and interviews from published memoirists, artists, and other storytellers. « Excerpt: Cooking Dirty by Jason Sheehan [...]

  2. regtidy says:

    It’s a wonderful story,thanks.

  3. Book Notes - Jason Sheehan ("Cooking Dirty") | IndieFan - Independent Television | Music, Movies, News & Culture says:

    [...] excerpt from the book [...]

  4. week end gastronomique says:

    this is a great story…thanks for posting it…;)

  5. John Rees says:

    Yep great story, glad to say my kitchen is a little more sane!

  6. rachael ray cookware says:

    I like this blog. My suggestion is try to optimize more your blog so more people can visit here and enjoy your nice blog. If you don’t mind, please also comment on my blog. Thanks.

  7. A taste for chefs’ memoirs says:

    [...] Confidential continues with Marco Pierre White’s The Devil in the Kitchen and, most recently, Cooking Dirty, by Jason Sheehan (who is notable within the genre for his relatively low status as a cook – Sheehan is a [...]

  8. Alexandra Dianne Cooper says:

    I am amazed with this line “Cold flashes skittered up and down my spine while my front half baked. ” It’s like the most striking/eye-catching words for me. I love it and I adore it.

    Best regards,

    AD Cooper
    used horse Saddles

  9. Beef Brisket – The Tragedy and the Drama « Cunningstuff says:

    [...] Basically, a homage to my favorite reviewer ever, Jason Sheehan. Share this:RedditTwitterFacebookEmailStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  10. stone island tracksuit says:

    Partly because of the type of flair players who play on the wing but largely due to the proximity of the crowd.‘There is going to be a lot of talk about Gerrard but the only thing that matters to us is to try to use this as a springboard for our season, It is difficult because these are games that we want to win, TheFlightDeal,The airline inadvertently sold flights from New York to Abu Dhabi for prices as low as $187 (?but that one day he would just be too tired to carry on. I never contemplated teaching him to sit-up-and-beg, I’m pregnant at the moment ?C the baby is due in March ?C and I think when this one is around Faith’s age and she’s about four.

  11. most healthy foods says:

    My spouse and i were so satisfied that Peter managed to complete his research from the ideas he got through your web page. It’s not at all simplistic to simply be releasing helpful tips the rest could have been selling. And now we remember we need the blog owner to thank for that. The most important explanations you have made, the easy website menu, the friendships you assist to promote - it’s got everything excellent, and it’s letting our son in addition to the family do think that subject is excellent, which is certainly wonderfully mandatory. Thanks for the whole lot!

  12. Argelia Wandless says:

    Hello.This post was really interesting, particularly because I was searching for thoughts on this topic last Saturday.

  13. latest fashion trends says:

    You made some nice points there. I looked on the internet for the subject matter and found most persons will consent with your website.

  14. odwiedz says:

    One more thing. I believe bikisoe that there are several travel insurance web-sites of dependable companies that allow you to enter your trip details and acquire you the quotes. You can also purchase the actual international holiday insurance policy on the net by using the credit card. All you have to do is always to enter your current travel details and you can see the plans side-by-side. You only need to find the system that suits your financial allowance and needs after which it use your credit card to buy them. Travel insurance on the internet is a good way to check for a respected company to get international holiday insurance. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  15. Cheap Tickets  says:

    I was just searching for this information for some time. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your web site. I wonder what’s the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this kind of informative websites in top of the list. Normally the top web sites are full of garbage.

  16. Company  says:

    hi!,I like your writing very so much! share we keep in touch more approximately your post on AOL? I need a specialist on this space to resolve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to peer you.

  17. Branding  says:

    Great remarkable issues here. I¡¦m very glad to look your article. Thank you so much and i’m having a look ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  18. Financial Planning  says:

    I’ve been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this web site. Thank you, I¡¦ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

  19. Auto Parts says:

    I do agree with all the ideas you’ve introduced on your post. They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too quick for starters. May just you please extend them a little from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  20. Atv says:

    Thank you a lot for sharing this with all of us you really recognize what you’re talking approximately! Bookmarked. Please additionally consult with my web site =). We can have a hyperlink exchange arrangement between us!

  21. Bedroom Furniture  says:

    You made some nice points there. I did a search on the subject and found most individuals will consent with your website.

  22. Dining Room Sets  says:

    I happen to be commenting to let you understand what a fantastic encounter my friend’s girl found using the blog. She realized plenty of issues, which included what it is like to possess an awesome helping nature to let many people quite simply know precisely a number of complicated subject areas. You actually did more than our own desires. Thanks for producing such practical, trusted, revealing and even cool tips about the topic to Kate.

  23. Kitchen Rugs  says:

    I would like to express my appreciation to this writer for bailing me out of this particular challenge. As a result of browsing throughout the search engines and coming across principles which were not helpful, I thought my life was done. Existing without the presence of strategies to the issues you have resolved as a result of the post is a critical case, and the ones which may have badly damaged my career if I had not come across your blog post. Your ability and kindness in playing with all the pieces was important. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not discovered such a step like this. It’s possible to at this time look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time so much for this skilled and amazing guide. I won’t think twice to recommend your web site to any person who requires guidance on this matter.

  24. Kitchen Rugs  says:

    I¡¦m not sure where you’re getting your info, however good topic. I must spend some time studying more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I used to be searching for this information for my mission.

  25. Penis Enlargement says:

    You can find yourself fantastic. I found myself feeling down, and so I feel great! Sustain the actual work.

  26. says:

    Wonderful site. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to several friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you on your effort!

  27. Puppies For Adoption says:

    you are actually a excellent webmaster. The web site loading pace is amazing. It kind of feels that you’re doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve done a wonderful job in this topic!

  28. click the following page says:

    Thanks for every other excellent article. Where else may just anyone get that kind of info in such an ideal method of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the look for such information.|

  29. Broad Review says:

    “Helpful info. Fortunate me I found your web site unintentionally, and I’m shocked why this twist of fate did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.”

  30. Wedding Dresses says:

    “You could certainly see your skills in the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.”

  31. RankHigher says:

    “I am constantly invstigating online for articles that can assist me. Thx!”

  32. thajsko dovolena says:

    “Thank you for your whole work on this website. Kim delights in going through investigations and it is easy to understand why. A lot of people learn all concerning the lively method you make both interesting and useful guidelines via this web site and even foster contribution from visitors on the area plus our own simple princess is now studying a lot of things. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the new year. You’re doing a tremendous job.”

  33. Freshwater Fishing Tackle says:

    “Very neat blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.”

  34. web developers Cambridge says:

    “Fantastic post.Thanks Again. Really Great.”

  35. sar?±yer nakliyat says:

    “Very good article.Really thank you!”

  36. essay writer says:

    “”I believe this is among the most vital information for me. And i’m happy studying your article. However wanna observation on some general things, The website style is perfect, the articles is in point of fact great D. Good activity, cheers”"

  37. custom controllers says:

    “wow, awesome blog article. Awesome.”

  38. DISC Profile says:

    “Thank you ever so for you article.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.”

  39. natural hair shirts says:

    “We stumbled over here coming from a different web page and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking into your web page repeatedly.”

  40. 123movies series says:

    “Fantastic site. Plenty of useful info here. I’m sending it to a few pals ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you to your effort!”

  41. says:

    “I like to surf around the online world, regularly I will just go to Stumble Upon and read and check stuff out”

  42. Swakopmund says:

    “Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to generate a really good article???‚¬?¦ but what can I say???‚¬?¦ I procrastinate a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.”

  43. Local Deals says:

    “I am always looking online for posts that can facilitate me. Thanks!”

  44. footy headlines says:

    “Great blog article.Much thanks again.”

  45. ?°thl?µti?? ?•h???µ?• says:

    “I dugg some of you post as I cogitated they were very useful very beneficial”

  46. CIPD business books says:

    “Fantastic blog post. Really Great.”

  47. logistics business book publishers says:

    “Your blog is one of a kind, i love the way you organize the topics.,`:*~”

  48. entrepreneurship books says:

    “Hiya very cool web site!! Guy.. Excellent.. Superb.. I will bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally??¦I’m happy to seek out numerous useful information here in the post, we want develop more strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing……”

  49. 10 best animals to see on an African safari says:

    “Might be practically not possible to find well-advised men or women on this theme, however , you come across as like you be aware of the things you’re preaching about! Gratitude”

  50. ancient astronauts says:

    “It???¦s actually a cool and useful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.”

  51. Australia e liquid says:

    “Attractive component of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to say that I get actually enjoyed account your weblog posts. Anyway I??™ll be subscribing on your feeds or even I achievement you get entry to constantly quickly.”

  52. Gennie Hilmer says:

    Thanks so much for giving everyone such a remarkable chance to read articles and blog posts from this website. It is often very pleasant and also jam-packed with amusement for me and my office co-workers to search your website on the least 3 times every week to read the fresh guidance you have. And lastly, I’m just always contented with your attractive concepts served by you. Some 4 tips in this posting are in reality the most suitable we’ve had.

  53. Benito Benike says:

    Thanks for another informative site. Where else could I get that kind of info written in such an ideal way? I’ve a project that I’m just now working on, and I have been on the look out for such information.

  54. Ismael Riccelli says:

    You made some nice points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will approve with your blog.

  55. Leigh Mongon says:

    I have not checked in here for some time because I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

  56. Bernita says:

    I intend to blog about issues I do not want associating with my ‘job’ self. Just how do I select a blog host that has a good privacy record, simply put, I do not want it to be simple for people to match up my IP address or accessibility my personal information. Likewise, having established the blog up, just how do you encourage high volume visitors?. I’ve only made use of LJ prior to and I want to try something a bit various, however anonymity is the biggest issue for me. Would invite tips of excellent complimentary blog hosts.

  57. chocopie says:

    Onjbqe site is something that as needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

  58. Ila says:

    How could I write blogs or short articles and also get paid for it?

  59. Antony says:

    I intend to gain even more fans by submitting my images to blog sites. Like when individuals click with, they will certainly link to my blog.

  60. Olive says:

    How to upload a template that was made in dreamweaver to my joomla site?

  61. Dorethea Ripke says:

    It?s hard to locate knowledgeable individuals on this topic, however you seem like you understand what you?re talking about! Many thanks

  62. Fatima Carrothers says:

    Your area is valueble for me. Thanks !?

  63. Wanda Mondelli says:

    Tuve un combi de la marca Indesit con sistema no frost en todo el aparato (frigorifico y congelador) al final se me terminó estropeando salió muy malo, pero era un regalo…. y cuando fui a comprar uno nuevo elegí Liebherr, por garantia de calidad, y lo elegí solo con nofrost en la parte del congelador, ya que con el otro me habia dado cuenta que las verduras me las resecaba y terminaban arrugandose y ahora con este genial, las verduras me aguantan muchiiisimo.

  64. urban fashion tv says:

    It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people in this particular subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  65. JordanASpahn says:

    I truly do consider all the ideas you’ve offered for your personal post.
    They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for novices.
    May just you please lengthen them a lttle bit from next time?
    Thank you for that post.

  66. Rebecca Blake says:

    Thankyou for a rare possibility to see a truly well-researched material.
    I don’t frequently come across such articles. The previous one was possibly the
    one at And also how
    you have structured the text is brilliant. Truly ,
    this really is a good read worth recommending. Thanks.

  67. demostración de video says:

    ¡Gracias por el post!

  68. says:

    Qué maravilla de artículo.

Leave a Reply

The name you want displayed with your comment.

Emails are not published with comments (i.e., everyone won't see it).

Your Website. This is optional.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.