Top critical review
Informative but Choppy
on December 1, 2008
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.