An excellent book about the steamy jungle of the kitchen in many restaurants. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is sometimes crude, coarse, but honest. I can hear Anthony Bourdain's voice coming through loud and clear in his writing. I will miss his creative genius from his CNN show. A must read!
When Anthony Bourdain died this year, I hadn't read anything by him, but my partner got me to watch some of his CNN show, Parts Unknown and I could see why people really liked his work.
Kitchen Confidential was the book that put Bourdain on the map (or on the Food Network) and it is a good look at a weird style of workplace. Though in the book he's writing with the brashness of someone who knows everything, I wonder how much of the experience of these styles of kitchens only apply in New York City. In a late chapter he does tell the reader that what he's describing (a macho sadistic culture Jordan Peterson would admire) is not the only way a kitchen can be, but he's described his kitchens so well already they're what stick with you as a reader.
In the end, I prefer late-career Bourdain's work but I can see why this would become so well-regarded.
I did not like this book. After it was announced that the author committed suicide in 2018 I decided to read it hoping to learn more about what goes on in the kitchen. I was a waitress in the fifties and sixties I never saw any kind of activity like he describes. It starts out very vulgar and doesn't get any better. I tried to read a sentence or two in a different chapters and didn't find anything of value in my opinion. I thought it was vulgar crass and disgusting.
Anthony Bourdain was an amazing storyteller. Kitchen Confidential is an insiders look at the inside story of the restaurant industry. He is frank about his past substance abuse and how it affected his relationship with cooking, and we see his rise to the top. His voice with be sorely missed.
For any of us who used to or still do work in the culinary industry I can say that they will appreciate this book. A sous chef at a restaurant I was working at at the time recommended this book and I loved it. Most diners will have no idea about what really goes on between front and back of house staff, and what happens after the restaurant closes for the night. Great perspective, told in a raw fashion that agrees with the crudeness and cutthroat culture of this industry, this book is a great read.
He's crude, he's crass, he's also very funny and completely without any sort of off-switch, apparently! I liked the book a lot, because his personality comes through loud and clear.
One of the best books about professional cooking, without question.
If you can get past Bourdain's machismo and (what MUST be) exaggerated tales of him always coming out as the bad a** in every situation, it was an entertaining read. But, sometimes the machismo and the hyperbolic storytelling could become a little draining. I love his show, Parts Unknown. I wanted this book to be more like that. It's not. But, still fun.
I've enjoyed watching Anthony Bourdain on his CNN show Parts Unknown, so my wife (who is a chef by trade) told me that I'd probably like reading Kitchen Confidential - the book that put him on the culinary map. Written in 2000, Bourdain describes in great detail the seedy underbelly of what life in a kitchen is really like. Drugs, alcoholism, kickbacks - basically if you're the head chef, its like being the captain of a pirate ship. And through his tales, I learned quite a lot from a customer's perspective such as never going to a restaurant on a Monday or ordering a steak well-done. Although I assume much has changed in the 15+ years since Kitchen Confidential was written, I also suspect that a lot of it has remained the same. A really good page-turner for serious foodies and people like me who only have a very casual interest in the subject.
I listened to this, Anthony Bourdain narrates it himself. He has a dark, crass way of telling stories about his career and life as a chef that I find to be laugh out loud funny.
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