There can be few people in the hospitality industry, locally and abroad, who haven’t heard of or admire Dr Bill Gallagher. His achievements as a chef, mentor, competitor and friend to chefs around the world are legendary. But how many people know he was born in one of the poorest parts of Jarrow, north England, and that his career is nothing short of a testimony of the spirit prevailing against incredible odds. To find out why he has called his autobiography, “Lettuce and a Lady’s Breast”, you’ll have to buy and read the book. And then you’ll be moved to buy the book for anyone you know who needs a handbook for life, business, perseverance, a walk down memory lane, to see if you or an event you were involved in are mentioned in it, or all of the above.
This extraordinary autobiography covers fifty years of Billy’s culinary career, plus his early years as a young boy and his life today as a quadriplegic who still manages to stay as busy as ever publishing magazines, organising top chefs’ dinners, sharing his knowledge with industry as a consultant and a devoted family man.
This is a remarkable story for both youngsters and adults who believe there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Billy takes us on a journey of growing up in the deprived post-war town of Jarrow in the UK where the future held, at best, the option of going down a mine or delivering mail to put food on the table. For this tenacious, engaging and spirited little guy, this was not sufficient. He was hungry for more.“His great passion for cooking would take him through the hallowed kitchens of the Dorchester Hotel in London, and drive him to become literate through hard work and the encouragement of his loving wife Linda, prior to embarking on an African culinary adventure on the southern tip of Africa.” Billy shares the amazing changes in his adopted country, his meteoric rise through the corridors of Sol Kerzner’s Southern Sun (now Tsogo Sun) hotel group, and discovering his true love for training and developing the young chefs of tomorrow.
His exploits with both the SA Chefs Association and holding the lofty title of President and Honorary Life President of the World Association of Chefs Societies are well document through witty and engaging anecdotes. “His never-give-up approach after being totally struck down in mid-career saw him bounce back against all odds and Billy is as mentally lively and strong today as ever, despite the daily setbacks of quadriplegia. “This is a story of courage, tenacity and raw guts set against the backdrop of a remarkable industry in which colleagues became family, and family remains the inner core that holds it all together.”
Advance Praise for Lettuce and a Lady’s Breast
“Billy, what a great book, I received my copy when in South Africa and virtually did not want to get off the plane when I landed in Singapore as I was so interested in the stories. I was wondering how you got the book title and now I know, had a chance to reflect on some of the crazy little things we all got up to while growing up in the big kitchens. So many stories in one book on being a chef, could not put it down, the challenges, the people you met (Ali my favourite) the adventures along with all the highs and not too many lows. A must for all young chefs to read to see how it was done and how it can be done!” -Dr. Rick Stephen, CMC Continental Director – Asia
“A powerfully emotional insight into the life of a super hero chef. A wonderful inspirational read of gastronomic pride and passion” –Chef Jade Sullaphen
“Dearest Billy. What an honour to be invited to the launch of your book last week. And what a beautifully written, anecdotal read. Every page has a lesson learnt from an experience we can all learn from, a story laced with your characteristic charm and humour we can now share with you. Each of the carefully preserved pictures that would otherwise be lost to the industry and to the people who share your memories tells a story of its own. Your book is a gift to the industry and to everyone who has had the privilege of walking this journey with you. Thank you for sharing your life, your successes and failures, your joys and tragedies with us.” –Vanessa Naude
“The long awaited Lettuce and a Lady’s Breast lived up to expectation and then some. What an awesome feel good, tell all story about Chef Billy’s life. From the start you dive straight in and he opens his heart fully. This act of vulnerability sets the tone for one of the most emotional and completely honest biographies that I have read. Thus completing the other half of the story that we never saw behind the scenes. Thank you for always giving us more and more Chef!” -Garry Reed