'I've been a chef in New York for more than ten years, and, for the decade before that, a dishwasher, a prep drone, a line cook, and a sous-chef. I came into the business when cooks still smoked on the line and wore headbands ' After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain has decided ...
'I've been a chef in New York for more than ten years, and, for the decade before that, a dishwasher, a prep drone, a line cook, and a sous-chef. I came into the business when cooks still smoked on the line and wore headbands ' After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain has decided to tell all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he first experiences the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop the Rockefeller Center to drug dealers in the East Village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain's tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable, as shocking as they are funny. This unforgettable book will change the way you view restaurants for ever.
I'm not going to bother going over the details of this book. Lots of others have done that very well here. I will say, in case you missed this along the way, that this book is 'adult' only material. If you don't want to read crude words and activities, hear about minorities and women being harassed, etc. Skip this. Trust me it won't ruin your life not to read it. Also, if reading about some filthy kitchens and mishandling of food will put you off ever eating out again, skip this book. Personally I can't tolerate crudity very much. I did read all of this book however, for several reasons. And I sometimes laughed out loud while doing it.
First of all -- This guy loves food. This love oozes off the pages. I kept reading.
Next -- Anthony Bourdain is obviously an adrenalin junkie. Reading Kitchen Confidential is like watching a train wreck that never quite happens. You keep waiting for the author to either get back on the rails or fly off completely. I felt a bit voyeuristic at times, so mesmerized was I to see what awful thing would happen next.
Finally -- Bourdain is honest about himself and his life. He admits his mistakes, his self centeredness, and the many opportunities he wasted. He also doesn't pretend that in the end those mistakes didn't matter. He's honest, occasionally uncomfortably so. Perhaps what endeared the book to me was his admission near the end that he is not a 3 star chef, he couldn't be one if he wanted to, and he's OK with that. After the endless parade of over-inflated egos one sees on TV, this was refreshing. Thanks for being honest, chef.
Aug 11, 2008
Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
From Bourdain's first oyster in the Gironde, to his lowly position as dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he witnesses for the first time the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, to drug dealers in the east village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain's tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-04-24 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 Cahners Business Information.
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