From Bill Buford, one of our most interesting literary figures--eight years as fiction editor at "The New Yorker"--comes a sharp, funny, exuberant, close-up account of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook. A marvelous hybrid, "Heat" offers a memoir of Buford's kitchen adventure as well as an illuminating exploration of why food ...
From Bill Buford, one of our most interesting literary figures--eight years as fiction editor at "The New Yorker"--comes a sharp, funny, exuberant, close-up account of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook. A marvelous hybrid, "Heat" offers a memoir of Buford's kitchen adventure as well as an illuminating exploration of why food matters.
It was funny; detailed account of the restaurant business from behind the scenes
Oct 5, 2007
This author takes you on an enjoyable trip to kitchens around the world. Imagine a whole chapter on the history of pasta. Well, it's done so well, you forget you're reading about flour and water. The personalities in that special room where food is prepared are brought to life. By the end of the book, you not only learned how to bone a bistecca, but about the scores of cuts people endure, the scaldings, the long-term stirring... survival of the fitest. It is fascinating to be behind the scenes where your meals are prepared when your only problem is figuring out what wine goes with it.
Feb 15, 2007
Compelling if slightly disjointed
I first became aware of Bill Buford from his highly entertaining "Among The Thugs" - a very entertaining account of soccer hooligans, based on Buford's time living in London. That book was great, but in my opinion got off track when Buford started an academic discussion about mobs - I wanted more stories of hooligans acting badly. (Perhaps this reflects poorly on me.)
"Heat" does go off the rails a few time (Buford becomes obsessed with finding the FIRST recipe for some things...and it's never clear why), but in general is a very compelling, often funny account of Buford's time working for, among others, Mario Batali and the chefs in Italy who originally trained Batali. Buford dives in headfirst, going so far as to buy a whole pig once he's back in Manhattan - no small feat - and describing in hilarious detail the process of bringing it home on his moped and cooking it over a period of weeks.
The only other thing I'd caution about this book is that I have heard several people refer to it as "that Mario Batali book." Batali certainly appears throughout the book, but it's very much NOT about him. The book is about Buford, and his immersion in his passion of cooking. In that, it's a highly entertaining read and recommended.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-04-03 Buford's book starts smartly-he first met dynamic celebrity chef Mario Batali at a dinner party at his own home, where Batali sparkled until 3 a.m.-and continues at a fast clip as he conceives the notion of becoming Batali's "kitchen slave." Buford wanted to profile Batali for the New Yorker but also wanted to learn about cooking; he would be a "journalist-tourist" in the boot camp of a "kitchen genius." His subject became an obsession, and over the next three years, he investigated a rich menu of subjects: what makes a three-star restaurant work; what it takes to be a TV food star; the techniques and history of Italian cooking, not just from library research but also from repeated trips to Italy to visit Batali's relatives. Terrific culinary writing tracks Buford's successive passions for short ribs, polenta, tortellini and then the butcher's art, Italian-style, of pig and cow. Along the way, to his own surprise, Buford found that he had become a kitchen insider. This is a wonderfully detailed and highly amusing book from the writer who once took an insider's look at English soccer hooligans in Among the Thugs. 100,000 first printing. (June 13) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-07-10 Buford's voice echoes the rhythms of his own writing style. Writing about his break from working as a New Yorker editor and learning firsthand about the world of food, Buford guns his reading into hyperspeed when he is jazzed about a particularly tangy anecdote, and plays with his vocal tone and pitch when mimicking others' voices. At its base, Buford's voice is tinged with a jovial lilt, as if he is amused by his life as a "kitchen slave" and by the outsize personalities of the people he meets along the way. Less authoritative than blissfully confused, Buford speaks the way he writes, as a well-informed but never entirely knowledgeable outsider to the world of food love. Listening to his imitation of star chef Mario Batali's kinetic squeal, Buford ably conveys his abiding love for the teachers and companions of his brief, eventful life as a cook. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover. (Reviews, Apr. 3). (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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