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.