Customer Reviews


321 Reviews
5 star:
 (155)
4 star:
 (98)
3 star:
 (28)
2 star:
 (22)
1 star:
 (18)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Dark Tale of Kitchen Life from the Inside
Tony Bourdain's breakthrough book Kitchen Confidential invites readers into a world few have seen more than the tiniest hints of: the hectic, high-pressure world of the professional kitchen.
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...
Published on June 18 2003 by John Nolley II

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but Choppy
Mr. Bourdain's bittersweet tale of being a chef rippled through the mass media in 2000 when it was first published. The candid account of his 25-plus years in the culinary industry outraged some (mostly restaurant owners), delighted some (mostly culinary professionals), and shocked many (the public).

Mr. Bourdain discovered his passion for food when he was ten,...
Published on Dec 1 2008 by P. Wang


‹ Previous | 1 233 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Dark Tale of Kitchen Life from the Inside, June 18 2003
By 
John Nolley II (Fairfax, VA United States) - See all my reviews
Tony Bourdain's breakthrough book Kitchen Confidential invites readers into a world few have seen more than the tiniest hints of: the hectic, high-pressure world of the professional kitchen.
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, drugs, rock n' roll... and french cuisine, too!, May 7 2002
By 
efrex (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Are you socially incorrigible, substance-dependent, able to curse fluently in multiple Spanish dialects, have a high tolerance for knife wounds, burns, cramped spaces, no sleep, and people looking to stab you in the back at every turn? Well, if you are, and you're not interested in a career in piracy in Latin America, you might want to try being a fancy chef.
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but Choppy, Dec 1 2008
By 
P. Wang (Toronto, Ontario) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (Paperback)
Mr. Bourdain's bittersweet tale of being a chef rippled through the mass media in 2000 when it was first published. The candid account of his 25-plus years in the culinary industry outraged some (mostly restaurant owners), delighted some (mostly culinary professionals), and shocked many (the public).

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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars An Insider's Book - Why You Might Not Like This Book, Nov. 19 2002
By 
Dennis Grace (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Tony Bourdain's work unpretentiously describes the world of cooking as seen by a cook. His gruff prose and semantic swagger match perfectly the world he describes, often reading like a collection of choice transcripts from kitchen conversations. If you want insight into a world you don't know, if you want the lowdown on what those immigrant are doing to your food while you enjoy candle light and conversation, or if you want information on how to become, yourself, a culinary master--this is not the book for you.
If, however, you've spent any time at all behind the swinging doors--as cook, expediter, dishwater, or even waitron--even for just a short time--you'll love it. You'll see a lot of people you know, you'll relive luxurious and painful experiences. You will laugh until you cry.
This insider-chic is not, however, Tony's one big flaw. That flaw, rather, is the foolish notion that his life outside of the restaurant is uninteresting. He left me hungry for more information on his drug problem (and, no, I do not consider this non-pertinent to his culinary career) and more about his wife, Nancy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Are you SURE you want to be a chef?, May 6 2002
By 
Andrew S. Rogers (Houston, Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I admire Anthony Bourdain. Because I consider myself such a dilettante in so much of what I do, I have a lot of respect for people who are absolutely focused, to the point of monomania, on achieving greatness in what they do. Working in a Bourdain-run kitchen would be easy: all you have to do is be invariably punctual, absolutely reliable, committed to the same high standards he is ... and then work yourself to death to achieve them.
Bourdain's story is entertaining, fast-paced, profane, funny, iconoclastic (at least if you like celebrity TV chefs), revealing, occasionally nauseating, deeply personal ... and probably a lot more fun to read about than to have lived through. You won't look at restaurant food the same way again. Sure, you may be more suspicious about what it is you're really being served. But more importantly (to Bourdain anyway, I suspect), you'll have greater understanding and respect for the people who prepared it. The seamy underside of the restaurant world is the most headline-grabbing part of the book, but the real value comes from the author's own experiences, his revelation of the life of an NYC chef, and his obvious love of great food prepared well.
At the same time, though, it seemed to me like there's a little bit of bait-and-switch to it. Bourdain spends the whole book talking about the manic, hard-rock, drug-driven, frenetic, foul-mouthed, take-no-prisoners world of the professional chef, laying it all on the line for us: this is what it's really like. And then, in one chapter, he pulls the rug out from under himself with his profile of Scott Bryan, another New York chef who, Bourdain admits, is night-and-day different from our author, and also more knowledgeable, more respected, and more successful. It's to his immense credit that Bourdain is absolutely up front with us about why Bryan is a three-star chef and he isn't.
I plan to read Bourdain's other non-fiction work and his two novels. This soul-baring book has put Anthony Bourdain on my list of authors I definitely plan to keep an eye on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Bon appetit!, April 20 2002
By 
Dennis J. Buckley (Harrisburg, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
About 30 years ago, I worked in a restaurant kitchen for all of five days. So I am no expert in the business. But I value good food.
What sets Tony Bourdain apart from the stock _Food Channel_ crew of performers is his candor and hard-won understanding of food both as a passion and as a business.
This is not really the horror story some described when the book first appeared, and it will not put you off from eating in restaurants. Maybe you will be a wiser consumer, and more apt to push your own limits and to try new fare. That's all to the good.
But on a much more elemental level, what I really value about Bourdain is how he tackles, head-on, the really serious subject of our relationship with food. This absolutely essential part of our lives gets the respect it deserves from Bourdain.
Bourdain has an easy and familiar writing style. He is also clearly no peasant, but a thoughtful, sometimes disarmingly introspective man-- a persona that belies the "tough guy in the kitchen" image he must maintain to run a business.
Excellent and insightful.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Fun book...give it a taste., April 4 2002
By A Customer
I just read this book by recommendation and really enjoyed it. If you've spent a lot of time eating or working in restaurants you will appreciate how grueling of a job it is for the staff. Bordain convinced me that maybe my office job IS cushier, but his job may be more fun. I liked him for his brashness and honesty and enjoyed his cultural references to the more seedy late '70's and early '80s, Provincetown and his drug use intertwined with a solid work ethic, once he got himself going in the morning. I felt like I knew him.
He also offers some good insider advice on how restaurants work their specials, what knives to use and my favorite-how to cut garlic, "[like the two mafiasos in the movie Goodfellas who use a razor to cut the garlic paper thin]." That's love of food! To me this feels like a coming-of-age autobiograhy about a guy who struggles to stay afloat in a tenuous business, often flying by the seat of his pants (or his wits) and manages to survive. I hardly saw it as shockingly revealing about the restaurant business-I've heard much worse stories than days old fish on the Monday special. For me it was an honest and entertaining view of the world behind that plate of food that arrives on your table. It made me respect that world a bit more too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe we should eat in from now on...., March 29 2002
By 
Like many readers probably did, I got my first "taste" of Tony Bourdain's prose in the pages of The New Yorker, where one of the more infamous chapters of Kitchen Confidential (you know the one I'm talking about -- are you planning to eat mussels and swordfish anytime real soon?) was excerpted prior to the book's publication. And in that little morsel, we got a sense of just what we were in for when this book hit the stores: a perpetually (often self-consciously) hip style, total lack of qualms about delving into the grime and grunge of the restaurant business, and a great comedic flair.
Like many others, I actually laughed out loud while reading Kitchen Confidential -- it's that good. The way that Mr. Bourdain studiously deflates the rarefied aura that so many celebrity chefs today work so hard at cultivating is refreshing, as is his unconcealed loathing for one Fall River-expat in New Orleans (believe me, Tony, you're not alone! When I saw him drop a bundle of asparagus into a pot of boiling water, saying that he tied them together to keep them from floating apart in the pot, I knew that he was a certifiable hack, too!). Yes, the fact that he's now channel-mates with that very same hack is indeed ironic (especially after one reads his line in KC mocking that very possibility), and after watching him on TV, the inescapable conclusion is that he's better taken through the medium of prose. Still, you won't do better than this gem of a book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Great insider tale, March 11 2002
By 
Bourdain explains that he's trying to write a book like the stories he'd tell you late at night after a few drinks. About what restaurants are really like and how chefs really talk and think. And that's exactly what he does. The book's crude, rambling, ego-centric, drug-addled, downmarket, egotistical, depressing, downright scary, and obnoxious, but also insightful, upmarket, generous, upbeat, and ultimately uplifting. Bourdain may be annoying, but he knows he's annoying, and not only doesn't care, but uses the tone to good effect. This feels like the straight story, at least in part because Bourdain isn't concerned with making himself the hero of every story.
I particularly appreciated the author's soul searching on how he got where he is rather than becoming a world class chef, which he claims not to be. He attributes it to taking head chef jobs rather than learning more from masters early in his career. The education and apprenticeship theme is played up as the focus of both Ruhlman's "The Making of a Chef" and Dornenburg and Page's "Becoming a Chef". Although this is not corner diner food, in a typical self-deprecating aside, Bourdain points out that it's really the shallots and monte au beurre that lend the professional taste.
Bourdain's respect for food and cooking is evidenced most clearly in the reverential tones reserved for Scott Bryan of Veritas (in New York). He begins the chapter by asking the reader to forget everything they've read up to this point and to look at Veritas, where you can tell how good they are from the spotless side towels, the shallot brunoise in the mise en place, and the fact that everything is prepared a la minute.
Although just about every aspect of running a restaurant is covered, I really appreciated the running discussion of creating menus and specials; you realize every chef-owner is first and foremost a Garde Manger.
This book's strong medicine. If you love food and need an antidote, try Ruth Reichl's autobiographically inspired "Tender at the Bone" which is as sweet as Bourdain's book is sour.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars He's become what he disdains, Feb. 27 2002
By A Customer
I enjoyed most of KC, including the childhood reminisces, the cooking tips, and the dining hints. As with other reviewers, I know when not to order fish, what kitchen tools are truly essential, and, most importantly, what goes on behind the kitchen doors (at least at some restaurants).
Two things grated on me, however (pun sort of intended). First, Bourdain has obviously read a lot of Hunter S. Thompson, and tries to style his writing after the original Gonzo journalist, but it's very difficult to mimic Thompson. The references to whacked-out, drug abusing, thieving kitchen staff were entertaining for awhile but began to wear thin 2/3 of the way through the book.
Second, Bourdain expresses contempt for a particular celebrity chef. Although he never mentions Emeril Lagasse's name, we know who he's talking about. He never gives a basis for such contempt, however, and fails to give credit where it is due. Before they were celebrity chefs, Lagasse and a few of the other Food TV folks spent years and years honing their craft and doing perfectly legitimate and respectable work.
The kicker, however, comes when I see advertisements for -- you guessed it -- Anthony Bourdain on Food TV! I saw the first of his Cook's Tour series. It was mildly interesting. But the irony was more than delicious -- the Emeril-basher doing a 22-part celebrity chef series on television!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 233 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (Paperback - Jan. 1 2007)
CDN$ 18.00
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews