Prick With A Fork serves up lots of laughs

IT'S a universal question: your steak's not cooked how you ordered it. Do you rage at the waitress and send it back to the kitchen, or suck it up and disguise the blood in lashings of gravy?

Larissa Dubecki says if a chef is asked to cook a steak longer, she's seen them throw it on the floor, then put it back on the grill.

Okay, so maybe not all chefs are guilty of the aforementioned, but steaks are the most common thing to come back to the kitchen, she says.

"Everyone thinks they are an expert and that they know better. The number of hours spent debating whether a steak is rare or medium-rare could solve the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict with time left over to catch a movie afterwards."

Before she was one of Australia's top restaurant critics, Dubecki was one of its "worst waitresses". Prick With A Fork is an hilarious expose of the restaurant industry, paying loving homage to her 10-year reign of dining room terror starting with crappiest Italian in a town Dubecki calls IlCrappo, where the food was "like a copy of a copy: a faded facsimile of one of the world's greatest cuisines".

Prick With A Fork by Larissa Dubecki, $29.99, published by Allen and Unwin.
Prick With A Fork by Larissa Dubecki, $29.99, published by Allen and Unwin. Photo Contributed

Prick With A Fork is a revelation for diners. It's cruel and it's horrifying: "all commercial kitchens have cockroaches". Full stop. And that sauv blanc you ordered is, behind the bar, less politely known as "cougar juice".

It's also enlightening. We know that ordering a wagyu steak well-done will anger any chef, but there's apparently a general rule of thumb among waiters that you can judge how well a person will tip based on how they want their steak cooked. "The well-done crowd are the misers who wouldn't even tip if there was a gun to their head," Dubecki says.

For anyone who's worked in hospitality, this book is therapy - just as it promises. You will laugh out loud. You're probably familiar with "the women who order a skinny latte with a side of chocolate cake". Or why one should never ask a waiter for a soy skinny decaf latte ("the universal consensus is just in: why bother?") or those who order their coffee "hot but not too hot" - how is this a quantifiable temperature? Then there are the one-in-10 Australians who claim to be gluten-intolerant: "Food allergies are a little more than a hobby of the bored elite … for so many people gluten sensitivity is no more than a dream," Dubecki says.

Read this one. And remember: be kind to your server, you never know what could happen.