Kitchen Confidential Paperback – May 15 2001
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Most diners believe that their sublime sliver of seared foie gras, topped with an ethereal buckwheat blini and a drizzle of piquant huckleberry sauce, was created by a culinary artist of the highest order, a sensitive, highly refined executive chef. The truth is more brutal. More likely, writes Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential, that elegant three-star concoction is the collaborative effort of a team of "wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths," in all likelihood pierced or tattooed and incapable of uttering a sentence without an expletive or a foreign phrase. Such is the muscular view of the culinary trenches from one who's been groveling in them, with obvious sadomasochistic pleasure, for more than 20 years. CIA-trained Bourdain, currently the executive chef of the celebrated Les Halles, wrote two culinary mysteries before his first (and infamous) New Yorker essay launched this frank confessional about the lusty and larcenous real lives of cooks and restaurateurs. He is obscenely eloquent, unapologetically opinionated, and a damn fine storyteller--a Jack Kerouac of the kitchen. Those without the stomach for this kind of joyride should note his opening caveat: "There will be horror stories. Heavy drinking, drugs, screwing in the dry-goods area, unappetizing industry-wide practices. Talking about why you probably shouldn't order fish on a Monday, why those who favor well-done get the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel, and why seafood frittata is not a wise brunch selection.... But I'm simply not going to deceive anybody about the life as I've seen it." --Sumi Hahn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Chef at New York's Les Halles and author of Bone in the Throat, Bourdain pulls no punches in this memoir of his years in the restaurant business. His fast-lane personality and glee in recounting sophomoric kitchen pranks might be unbearable were it not for two things: Bourdain is as unsparingly acerbic with himself as he is with others, and he exhibits a sincere and profound love of good food. The latter was born on a family trip to France when young Bourdain tasted his first oyster, and his love has only grown since. He has attended culinary school, fallen prey to a drug habit and even established a restaurant in Tokyo, discovering along the way that the crazy, dirty, sometimes frightening world of the restaurant kitchen sustains him. Bourdain is no presentable TV version of a chef; he talks tough and dirty. His advice to aspiring chefs: "Show up at work on time six months in a row and we'll talk about red curry paste and lemon grass. Until then, I have four words for you: 'Shut the fuck up.' " He disdains vegetarians, warns against ordering food well done and cautions that restaurant brunches are a crapshoot. Gossipy chapters discuss the many restaurants where Bourdain has worked, while a single chapter on how to cook like a professional at home exhorts readers to buy a few simple gadgets, such as a metal ring for tall food. Most of the book, however, deals with Bourdain's own maturation as a chef, and the culmination, a litany describing the many scars and oddities that he has developed on his hands, is surprisingly beautiful. He'd probably hate to hear it, but Bourdain has a tender side, and when it peeks through his rough exterior and the wall of four-letter words he constructs, it elevates this book to something more than blustery memoir. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Written as an expose of sorts, many of the things Bourdain covers will shock the casual diner reading his book, from staff parties afterhours with lines of coke all down the bar to the reasons not to ever order the seafood special or get your steak cooked well-done. Primarily, the book covers Tony's life as a chef, from his drug-filled college days to stints at what must seem half the restaurants in NYC to his getting his life back on track and his success at his current job--yet the book is not a biography (unless of the industry itself); it instead offers on-the-mark observations on personalities, the business of restaurants, and the trials of achieving one's dreams.
While the book's subject matter is in itself interesting, what really makes Bourdain's book excel is his writing style: harsh, frank, and unapologetic yet still paced well and very readable. His descriptions leap out like something from a hard-boiled detective novel and make for an easy read.
Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" is a salty, rambling, rambunctious love letter to the world of a professional chef and to the insane people who inhabit it, interspersed with some advice to the general public (such as why you should never order your steak well-done or a fish frittata, and how many knives you REALLY need to make all those hoity-toity dishes you see on TV). Bourdain gleefully jumps from describing his falling in love with french cuisine as a boy, to his experience as a junior "know-nothing" in Cape Cod, to what a typical day at Les Halles is, to a full-blown food and alcohol orgy in Japan, all at a pace that will leave you gasping for breath.
Not necessarily for the faint-hearted, but if you want to know what life is like behind your fancy dishes, this is a must-read.
Tony's personality transmits seamlessly from written word to reader---he is well-spoken and cultured with just the right amount of vicious self-deprecation and distain for the world. He has been true to one mistress, it seems, throughout his life: Food. I share Tony's love affair and this book was impossible to put down.
Critically speaking, there was a little shifting around throughout the book so the flow was occasionally a little choppy. I didn't mind at all. I felt the book was the perfect illustration of Bourdain's true thoughts and feelings about his life as a chef. One day I'm hoping to meet he man in person, and hopefully buy him a drink. Or two. Possibly enjoy an oyster with him as well! Cheers, Tony.
Mr. Bourdain discovered his passion for food when he was ten, while on a family vacation to France. He stumbled into the restaurant business when he took a job as a dishwasher in Provincetown during his college years. This was when he discovered the dysfunctional yet fascinating world of the culinary profession. The eye-opening experience as a novice cook introduced him to the world of booze, drugs, power, and money. He knew by then there was no turning back.
Mr. Bourdain's tales are candid and raw. He starts as a ruthless punk and finishes as a professional chef. How the 25-plus years have changed him is remarkable, although Mr. Bourdain rarely dwells on retrospective analysis . Rather, he relies on his stories to lead the way.
In a mere 300-some pages, Mr. Bourdain explains why readers should not order seafood on Mondays, why so many restaurants fail, why good cooking is not about creativity, how to get professional-grade cookware cheap, and how he keeps on top of things via his private intelligence network. As a result, his narrative is sometimes choppy.
Most recent customer reviews
Book was in great condition. Cover was a different one from the one listed. That doesn't matter to me at all, but maybe to someone else.
I love it!
The book came in wonderful condition! I very happy with the purchase!Published 5 months ago by Jessica Jacklin
Boring! You really have to like the guy to enjoy this book!Published 6 months ago by Norbert Fournier
I tried to like this book and some parts were okay but more of a puff-chested read on the part of this author. I do, however, enjoy his tv shows.Published 6 months ago by pauline
Entertaining book. Once I finished it I wanted to see his show. Lots of details about how Anthony Bourdain started of as a chef and his many adventures in the business.Published 7 months ago by Gamesmart
Not bad at all. Sometimes interesting. I'd give it a thumbs up. His honesty in writing is apparent and admirable. Worth your time. Especially if you are a chef to be.Published 9 months ago by Suraj Rai