Two book reviews in one week?! Whaaaaat? Don’t get used to this 😉 this is a one off, a fluke. Write this date down in your calendars because it might never happen again.
I’ve owned a copy of Kitchen Confidential for a while now, and I’ve tried to read it a couple of times, but couldn’t really get into it. Then, my boyfriend suggested I listen to the audiobook as it’s read by Anthony Bourdain, and WHAT A DIFFERENCE THAT MADE. I devoured this book. I listened to it every chance I could get — on my commute to and from work, during my lunch break, at home while cleaning or cooking. This book made me laugh while simultaneously grossing me out.
The book was first written in 2000 after his infamous New Yorker article in 1999. Shortly after Bourdain’s death last year, the New Yorker article began making the rounds on the internet again and I read it. I was immediately hooked, and knew I wanted to read more. Like I said in the above paragraph, I tried reading Kitchen Confidential in book format, but it was missing a certain sort of pizzazz. If you can, listen to the audiobook.
Kitchen Confidential details Bourdain’s journey into chef-dom. He talks about his schooling at the Culinary Institute of America, 1970’s summers in Massachusetts working at a local restaurant full of debauchery, his first few gigs in New York, working at the Rainbow Room, his battles with heroin, and finally becoming executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan.
He doesn’t shy away from dishing out the dirt, so to speak. He discusses other chefs in the city at the time and what he thought of them. He discusses his staff from Brasserie, but also other staff he has worked with over the years. My personal favorite was “Adam real last name unknown.” What a guy. Sometimes it was hard to believe you were reading about actual people and not fictional characters. He discussed his first boss and mentor, Bigfoot (the pseudonym he created) at length and how important and vital he was during the start of his career. Also, Bigfoot is the coolest pseudonym.
This book doesn’t shy away from the the detail — good or bad — and I liked that. It was a no bullshit, no nonsense, and honest look into the restaurant world. It was brutal at times, but woven with Bourdain’s classic sense of humor and sarcasm. It never felt over the top or too shocking for me. (just the part about what to order at restaurants and when — ew)
Listening to the audiobook and hearing Bourdain’s voice made me quite sad that we will no longer be gifted by his incredible spirit. I think now more than ever is the perfect time to listen to (or read) this book if you haven’t — and then binge Parts Unknown, or No Reservations — or both.
I gave this book 5 stars and if I could give it more, I would. It was that good.
Until next time!