‘Sous Chef’ cooks up a peek behind closed doors

Most of us have wondered what really goes on behind the closed doors of restaurant kitchens. Is there a secret society back there? Is the labor really as hard as we’ve heard? What about the artistry of the cuisine? Does that get dilluted on nights when the dining room is jammed? Of course, the biggest question is, Just what are they doing to our food?

The answers are in “Sous Chef: 24 Hours On the Line” by chef Michael Gibney (Ballantine, $25, 240 pages). In this startlingly frank memoir, the reader dons an apron to stand alongside the chef as he serves a slice of life in the kitchen in a typical “upscale Manhattan restaurant.” He’s well-qualified to do so, having worked at such New York dining destinations as Alinea, Per Se, Bouley, Ducasse and Momofuku.

As he explains in the preface, “I’ve compiled material from several restaurants and several periods in time. I only hope to provide a genuine impression of the industry.”

We’ll have what he’s having.