PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “The Amateur Gourmet” (Plus another book giveaway!)

I am away in England for the week, so every day I’m turning over the site to a random Midtown Lunch’er.  Today, I’m pleased to welcome Adam Roberts aka The Amateur Gourmet, and author of the new book “Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hop like a Pro (Almost)”.  He doesn’t actually work in Midtown, but he eats here occasionally, and while he might not give you any good ideas for lunch’ing in Midtown, he is giving away copies of his book, which is a really fun read for anyone who likes eating…

Name: Adam



Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Midtown’s very own Park Slope. Ok, I don’t work in Midtown. But I’ve had lunch there before!

Favorite Kind of Food:
I really like pasta and I really like dessert. I guess, then, you could say I love carbs. I’m the anti-Atkins.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
I like everything. But if I had to pick something, I’d say really stinky cheese… though even that is beginning to grow on me. Literally!! I need a doctor!

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown: The best lunch I ever had in Midtown was at Le Bernardin—a $48 prix fix lunch of food so extraordinary, it made lunch look like dinner and dinner look like breakfast. Huh? But I know Zach doesn’t like these snobby high-end places, so for his sake I will mention Sapporo (49th btw. 6+7th) for excellent Soba noodles.  (I don’t like Cafe Metro & Chipotle.  Le Bernardin, I like.  Especially when someone else is paying.  -zach)

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: I don’t have any co-workers. I work alone. And my go-to place is in Park Slope; why am I on your blog again?? (Um… I thought it was obvious? To give away free stuff to my readers… -zach)

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: Hmmmm… the dark empty cavern in my soul?.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Purely for lunch purposes, I’d love to work in Paris. Baguettes with French butter; stews; macaroons, pastries…was this question limited to New York? (Definitely not. Although, lately a lot of Lunch’ers have been giving a lot of New York centric answers. Do I need to re-word this one? -zach)

And now… the reason Adam is here.  Free copies of the “Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop and Table Hop Like a Pro”, a really fun and down to earth book for anyone who loves food, but has felt like an idiot at a restaurant, or trying to cook at home.  Want one?  Post your funniest story about an eating out mishap, or the time you screwed up a home cooked meal in the comments section.  Obviously these stories will be from a long time, since I know all of you guys are food pros at this point.  Best 5 take home a copy of the book.

And as always, if you want to be the next Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er, email me at


  • Lame… Everyone knows how awesome Le Bernadin is. How can I take someones recommendations, or food opinions when they have never had jerky?!

  • (one of) my most embarassing dining experiences happened at the hot-spot Butter for a friend’s birthday a few years ago. i consider myself an adventurous eater but was not into organs (that has since changed). anyway, special app of the night was tandoori spiced sweetbreads. a friend and i planned to share an app and thought “tandoori – yum, we love indian food. breads – cool, we like carbs.” so we order it. other friends at the table kept going on and on about how impressed they were with us and how daring we were. we had no idea what they were talking about and at first tried to play it off like it was nothing. but then finally asked someone else at the table what they were talking about. she explained what sweetbreads are. we didn’t believe her so we actually pulled the waiter over to ask him (so embarrassing) and of course he confirmed. we stuck with our order though and dared a few bites. i wasn’t a fan, but who knows, could’ve just been butter’s sweetbreads. anyway, to this day, still get made fun of for that.

  • Ok….so, i have two stories….both from long long ago since now i am an excellent cook.

    My first cooking experiement for others came about when i was only 13. I had to prepare a dish for my french class. Each of us had to pick a country, outside of france, where french is an official language, and do a report on that country. A tranditional dish was part of the project. I cannot even remember what country i chose, some country in Africa, but the dish i chose to make was some sort of banana pudding. I decided that i was going to make it on my own, without a recipe, after all, it was just banana pudding. So, long story short, i though i’d “kick it up a notch” and add just a touch of my parent banana liquor. I wound up adding the whole bottle. Anyway….got in BIG TROUBLE at school. Maybe the most disgusting banana pudding ever and it stunk of alcohol, it was tryly inedible and i prob would have been drunk from eating it. After that i learned how to cook foods with just a touch of alcohol. And learned that you should always taste your food before you serve it.

    Other story…told my BF i’d make him some hamentaschen for Purim, (his fav’s) but i couldnt do it! So….i bought some, broke them up a bit, scrached em, made em look really homemade. He LOVED them and for weeks kept requesting different flavors! I spent soooo much moolah going to the bakery begging them for all these different flavors. It was terrible. I could have paid for a year at the culinary institue instead. Then i told him they were very fattening and he couldnt have any more!!!!

    Hope i get your book!…looks great!

  • Both of Melissa’s stories are winners. She should get two books and give one to me.

  • When I was a kid I tried to bake a cake. I assumed baking powder and baking soda were the same thing. Let’s just say few cakes have had the kick that this one did. Plus it looked like a corkboard. I think we could have used it AS a corkboard.

  • I love to bake. It all started when I was really little helping my mom bake loaves of bread in the fall, pies at Thanksgiving, cookies at Christmas, and so on. At one point my favorite baked goods were muffins. I was baking up a storm with my mother. Finally, she let me go it on my own. Being one of my ultimate muffins, I decided to make Cranberry. I thought I was a hot shot getting to measure everything on my own, stirring the bowl like a wild child, and marching around with the oven mitts. Well, I neglected to pay attention to the label on the ingredient jars. Instead of adding 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 cup of sugar, I did the complete opposite. Needless to say, there’s nothing like biting into a dry cranberry muffin that tastes like the ocean. Tail between my legs, I gathered my first solo muffin batch and took them out to the sheep. They devoured them; I guess it wasn’t a total loss, I created the first cranberry salt lick for our farm.

  • Just give me a fucking book or Zach gets it.

  • I knew that was coming from you McB… what a shocker.

  • It’s a whole new Rudy now. His comedic stylings brighten my day in a totally hetero, non-sexual way.

  • I never grew up cooking at home. While my mother was a terrible cook, at least she was aware of it and we ate out for nearly every meal. While it was fun, my freshman year of college I was broke and tried to impress a girlfriend by cooking her dinner. I had no prior cooking experience to rely on, and it was a disaster.

    We actually never got past the salad. While the recipe for Caesar Salad called for 2 CLOVES of garlic, I unknowingly put in 2 HEADS. She politely took a bite of the salad, gagged a little, and offered to take me out for dinner.

  • be shush,clarise.

  • Oh I love Paris… but what I love more than Paris is Montpellier (Languedoc Roussillon region)… and the little vendor on Grand Rue Jean Moulin who serves the roasted chicken breast sandwich with lettuce, tomato, honey mustard and a little mayo on a soft (yet crunchy on the outside) grain baguette. It was only 3 euro, which is what.. $4.5? $5? Perhaps eating one of those every day on my way to class was why I came back to the states the size of a house. :) It was worth it.

  • Know him well, the cheese eating surrender monkey.

  • Marge, do you have an aunty Em and an uncle Henry?

  • The summer after graduating high school, I went to Paris to visit a friend. On top of the amazing restaurant food, she made home-cooked meals that involved fatty bacon, butter, potatoes, and cheese, as well as French onion soup. When I got back, I invited my best friend over for a French meal. Since she’s Hindu and a vegetarian, I made the potatoes without ham. I still made the French onion soup. She loved everything, especially the soup, commenting on how she’d never had anything like it before. As I was clearing the plates, I saw the cans of BEEF broth I’d used and was horrified at what I’d done. I knowingly, but unconciously, fed her a holy animal. I confessed, but if she goes to Hell, I’m gonna feel kind of guilty.

  • Early this year, I made something similar to the Harry & David Moose Crunch mix for a party I hosted. It’s got chocolate in it, peanuts, walnuts, marshmallows—just a whole bunch junk.

    I had some leftovers from the party, so I brought them into work. A bunch of people grabbed them from the kitchen and my pseudo-boss/co-worker grabbed one of the last ones from the kitchen. He was sitting in his office and he calls me on the phone and asked “What’s inside the chocolate balls…?”
    I rattle off the ingredients and he stops me at ‘walnuts’. Apparently, he’s highly allergic to tree nuts i.e. walnuts.

    So, I hang up the phone and run to his office and he was all red and sweaty, his voice was raspy and he looked really bloated and awful. Soo, he stumbled out of his office and went to his apartment…he ended up taking a bunch of Benadryl and stayed home for the next two days.
    [Luckily], he only took a small bite because apparently he didn’t have his allergy pen on him.
    For a few weeks after that I was referred to solely as the ‘Poisoner’.

  • When i was younger i asked my dad “what’s a Hindu?”

    Reply “Lays eggs son, lays eggs”

  • Zach, is there lunch outside of NYC? I thought everyone just ate bologna and cheese sandwiches.

    I think I have all classic early cooking experiences: Was ignorant of the difference between baking soda and baking powder; Attempted to make delicious dessert for high school boyfriend which went awry (used really old orange zest from a jar to make an orange mousse… mousse should not have chewy chunks in it…); Didn’t realize the difference in oil – thought olive oil = vegetable oil.

    No great, traumatic or embarrassing food stories apparently. That or I’ve done a great job of repressing them. No book for me!

  • the first time i ordered sweetbread, i thought it was just that…sweet bread. can’t really think of anything else, cause i’m just that good.

  • matt, which bits did you get?

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